Agriculture Storybook Time at the Morgan County Fair

Reading and agriculture have always been a daily part of my life. Growing up my mother always read to me. She instilled a love for reading and education that has stayed with me into my adult life and professional career. My farmer father, planted my passion for agriculture in me that has also helped me attain some of my personal and professional goals. Those goals lead me to become a teacher and an active advocate for agriculture in my community. I am a teacher at Monrovia Elementary School and a first year Morgan County Fair Board member. One of the many reasons I wanted to join the board was to use my experience in education to help promote agriculture to the general public. I saw the county fair as a perfect platform to present agriculture education materials. With this goal in mind, I presented an idea to the board to incorporate reading and agriculture, Agriculture Storybook Time. This idea is much like the storybook events that happen at your local libraries or bookstores where children gather around to listen to someone read a story. This new event will take place at the Morgan County Fair (July 29 – Aug. 6) everyday on the Free Stage. There will be two opportunities to hear stories about agriculture at 11:00 a.m. and 5 p.m. A different book about agriculture will be read each time by a volunteer from the community.

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These are some of the books that will be read.

As a lifelong member of Morgan County and 10 Year 4-H Member, I have attended the Morgan County fair since I was a baby. As the years have passed, I have noticed the need for more educational events for small children and their families to participate in during the fair. Agriculture Storybook Time gives children and their families an opportunity to do something at the fair as a family and to participate in an agricultural education experience. Studies have shown the importance of reading to a child for at least 20 minutes a day and the great impact it can have on a child’s development. Reading and/or listening to someone else read helps children’s brain and literacy skills develop. With the busy schedules families have today, it is hard to get in that special reading time especially during the summer months. Agriculture Storybook Time will create an opportunity for children to get this important reading time.

In addition to receiving the recommended 20 minutes of reading, children will learn about agriculture and what farmers do on their farms through the books I have selected to be read during Agriculture Storybook Time. Every child and their family members are consumers, but many are so far removed from the farm and where their food comes from they don’t understand the work farmers are doing for them. This opportunity will help bridge the gap between consumers and our farmer producers.

To sum it up, I encourage you to attend our Morgan County Fair (July 29 – Aug 6) and stop by the Free Stage at 11:00 a.m. and/or 5:00 p.m. for Agriculture Storybook Time. I hope you enjoy this special reading time with your family while learning something I am very passionate about, agriculture!

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Celebrate the Year of the Farmer

By Sarah Thomas and Katie Thomas Glick

It’s the “Year of the Farmer” at the great Indiana State Fair and we are so excited that our favorite people and their hard work they do for each one of us will be featured. Honestly, every year is the “year of the farmer” because without them there would be nothing to showcase at the county and state fairs or growing in the many farm fields throughout the country. There would be no animals that 4­-H members raised or selected from a farm for their projects. There would be no fair food that has everyone marking their calendars for when they get to put their hands around a delicious tenderloin sandwich or pork burger. Or an ear of buttery sweet corn that you know will get stuck in your teeth, but honestly don’t care because it happens to everyone!

Year of the Farmer logo

The Indiana State Fair dates are August 7 – 23. A farmer or a farm family that represents different components of Indiana agriculture will be featured every day at the State Fair. There will be aquaculture (fish), corn, soybean, wheat, apple, mint, pumpkin, strawberries, tomato, beef, chicken/egg, dairy, sheep, swine, tree/hardwood, and wine farmers. They have graciously opened up their farms and businesses to tell their agriculture story, and each one will be showcased throughout many exhibits on the fairgrounds.

Our Morgan County Fair is also honoring farmers, keeping with the same theme as the Indiana State Fair, “Year of the Farmer ­ Feeding America in the Past, Present, and Future”. The dates for our county fair are July 31 – August 8. There will be many farmers attending 4­-H livestock shows, walking through the Merchants Building and eating at the many different food tents. They will be more than happy to talk to you about what they do on their farms and in their fields. Attending our county fair is a great way to educate yourself on agriculture and the people that are involved in the industry that provides food for you and your family.

We believe in the importance of educating others about farmers and our family farm businesses. We want you to understand how farmers have worked hard in the past and present, and how they will continue that hard work in the future because we need them to. Today, one U.S. Farmer feeds 155 people. In 1960, a Farmer fed only 26 people. Farmers are producing more food on less land while using less water and fuel. They work extremely hard to make sure that we have a variety of safe food to put on your tables and theirs. Farmers also understand that you, the consumer, may not know what exactly their job entails. They want you to trust them and know that they do have your best interest in hand because they also have to look after the best interest of their families. More and more farmers and farm families are welcoming people to take a glimpse into their world­­, their job and their livelihood, it’s one in the same.

Forever our favorite farmer, our Dad, Tim Thomas.

Forever our favorite farmer, our Dad, Tim Thomas.

Agritourism is becoming more popular throughout our state. It’s when farmers open up their farms or facilities to the public to help educate consumers on where their food comes from and how it gets to our tables. With the huge disconnect among consumers to the family farm in today’s society, agritourism has become essential for farmers to showcase their businesses and livelihoods. Our county and state fairs are a great example of agritourism, but there are other agritourism opportunities that are available in Morgan County. Driving around our county you see the abundant corn and soybean fields, but there are other products being grown or raised in the county. You can go to Hunter’s Honey Farm to get local honey or to pick out and chop down a beautiful Christmas tree for your home. In the fall you can visit Anderson Apple Orchard for all your apples and to pick out that perfect pumpkin to create your Jack ­ o ­ Lantern. Visit Willowfield Lavender Farm to see the pretty purple colors and smell the aroma of lavender while touring the farm and purchase some of their lavender products. Morgan County is also home to many in the aquaculture business. Clear Creek, Curtis, and Ozark Fisheries raise their fish in the ponds you may see on your drive. The Morgan County Farmers Market is another great showcase of the products our local farmers work hard to produce. The market is open May ­ September with locations in Martinsville (Saturdays 9-1 PM), Mooresville (Tuesdays 3­-6 PM), and Monrovia (Saturdays 12­-3 PM).

Agritourism is also taking the Internet by storm! Many farmers have created personal blogs to share their farms with consumers. What is a blog? A blog is like an online journal. It’s a perfect tool for farmers to use to document what happens on their farms. Many use pictures and try to simplify agricultural terms for you to better understand what they are doing. Here is a list of some of our favorite farmer and agriculture blogs we recommend:

The Farmer’s Life: http://thefarmerslife.com

Agriculture Proud: http://agricultureproud.com

Boilermaker Ag: http://boilermakerag.com

From My Front Porch: http://www.jentsfrontporch.com

Fancy in the Country: http://fancyinthecountry.blogspot.com

Sarah Sums It Up: http://sarahsumsitup.com

We hope that you are able to visit our great Indiana State Fair and the Morgan County Fair to show your support of Indiana Agriculture and to honor those hands that feed us, the American Farmer.

My brother in-law, Brett Glick on his farm in Columbus, IN. Photo Credit: Katie Thomas Glick

My brother in-law, Brett Glick on his farm in Columbus, IN. Photo Credit: Katie Thomas Glick

Head, Heart, Hands, Health

By Katie Thomas Glick and Sarah Thomas

Every year, we know when it’s coming. We can feel it in the summer air and we prepare our schedules accordingly for a visit back home to eat our favorite taco salad and pork burger, walk the livestock barns and reminisce about old times at the Morgan County Fair!

Growing up as farm girls, it wasn’t a question if we were going to participate in 4-H or not. We were participating in 4-H because it was in our blood. Our dad was an active member of 4-H along with our uncles. The question was what were our projects going to be, and how much money could we save to buy several lemon shake-ups each day of the fair.

And while it is a place to soak up the last bits of summer with your friends, enjoy midway rides or eat some fried food, the county fair means much more to some individuals in our community. For some youth in our county, it’s about taking a pledge, having responsibility for a project or an animal and being an active member in the community. The fair is a time for 4-H members to show their projects, make memories with their friends from around the county, and play a part in shaping their future—our future. As the nation’s largest youth program, 4-H helps shape young people into responsible and active citizens.

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This picture was featured in my home town newspaper back in when my Dad was an active member in 4H.

It was 1902 in Clark County, Ohio when A. B. Graham started a youth program for youth and adults to come together to learn and teach each other about agricultural practices. We now consider this the beginning of the 4-H programs in the United States. Now there are 4-H clubs serving youth members in rural, suburban, and urban settings all around the U.S. It is the nation’s largest youth program with clubs that spread over every state.

You may have found yourself walking into the fairgrounds and seeing that familiar four leaf clover with an H stitched on each leaf and thought to yourself, “What do those four Hs stand for?” When 4-H members make the decision to join a club or to be an active member in their county 4-H they take a pledge, they learn it and know it well.

I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

While you may think that to be in 4-H you have to show some kind of livestock, this is completely untrue. Many 4-H members do have livestock projects but there are many that get involved in other ways. Be sure to visit the exhibition hall at the county fairgrounds to see other projects such as: photography, baking, sewing, electrical, genealogy, gardening and much more. All the 4-H members, in all areas, work diligently on their projects whether they are in the exhibition hall or the livestock barns.

The youth participating in 4-H make a conscious decision to take a challenge and be responsible for a project and along the way learn how to better themselves and their community. Therefore, we challenge you, as a former 4-H alumni or not, to visit the projects in the buildings and the barns and to learn something to better yourself. And along the way, you will help better your community by supporting our county 4-H members.

And as you walk to get your lemon shake-up or stand in line to get your favorite fair food, you can usually spot the 4-H members with some ribbons in their back pocket. We encourage you to talk to these members and ask them about their projects. They take great pride in their hard work. The hard work that has taught them responsibility and lessons that will be with them forever and that they will use in their community—our community.

Read more about 4H on my sister, Katie’s blog, Fancy in the Country.