One of the benefits listed for the Glass Barn built on the Indiana State Fairgrounds was that it would be useful in expanding education programs to students from around the state. The Glass Barn was built by the Indiana Soybean Alliance with $2.9 million from the soy checkoff.
The futuristic-looking building was a big hit during the fair. It featured interactive displays and a chance for consumers to interact through video and live chats with real farmers. It also featured an interactive farming game, a retail consumer grocery check-out activity and a chance to have your photo taken in a postcard backdrop of various farm scenes. You could then email the photo to yourself.
Stephanie DeCamp is the person responsible for developing the education program at the state fair. Other facilities beside the Glass Barn they can use include the Normandy Barn, where her office is located, the Pin barn where livestock are kept and the Greenhouse located next to the Normandy Barn.
One of the most successful programs is the 'pizza' program where kids learn what goes on a pizza and how each ingredient is produced. Aimed at very young children, this program has drawn hundreds of children each year.
The goal now is to develop programs that will entice teachers to bring older children, including older elementary ages through middle school, and even high school students, to the Fairgrounds.
Another resource used in some programs on the grounds is the Pathway to Water Quality. It celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, and is maintained by the soil conservation partnership in Indiana. DeCamp offered a program that featured the Pathway to Water Quality this fall, and taught one session to about 40 students. She hopes it will grow in the future.
"We do mostly word-of-mouth marketing, although we mail postcards to every school and teacher that we can about specific programs," she says. "We know it will take time to build up attendance in some of these newer programs for older students."