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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Agriculture Appreciation Month Summed Up

March is my favorite month of the year.  I love to see everything come to life after it’s long winter rest.  I love seeing new life on the farm.  I also love seeing my family and other farmer friends prepare for the planting season.  To me, January is not for new beginnings, March is.

I also love the month of March because it’s Agriculture Appreciation Month and there is nothing I enjoy more than educating, promoting,  AGvocating, and appreciating farmers and all their hard work they do for me.

This year to celebrate those hands that feed us, my sister, mother, and I donated books about agriculture to all of the elementary school libraries in our home county of Morgan County.  We donated them in memory of my father, Tim Thomas, who passed away in a farming accident 6 years ago.  Our hope is for the librarians, teachers, and students to use these books to help educate their students and/or themselves about the importance of agriculture and farmers.  I enjoyed picking out the books and educator guides we donated.  It was so hard to only donate a couple! So, my sister, mom, and I decided we will continue to donate and grow the ag book bundles for each library in Morgan County in the years to come.

As a teacher I have many opportunities to teach my students about agriculture. Throughout “Ag Week” (March 14-18) I read many books about farmers, farming, and ag products to help my students understand what farmers do for them and how they get their food and other products they need to live.  After we read the books and watched MANY Peterson Farm Brothers videos we brainstormed and wrote down facts about farmers and farming on our planning sheets.  Then, my students took their notes to write sentences about farmers.  After their writing was complete I let them create their own farmers.  My students had so much fun doing this!

I did a lesson on seeds and plants with my kindergarten class.  We read books about what all seeds need to grow for them to turn into the plants we eat.  Then we made seed necklaces.  This was a fun way for them to learn about seeds and then take their seed home and plant it if they wish.

As a member of the Morgan County Young Farmers I helped some of our young farmers go into classrooms in our county to read agriculture books to students.  Our president, Patrick Maxwell, visited a school in Mooseville’s school district.  He read to his cousin’s students.  Our secretary, Maggie Voyles, visited South Elementary, a school in Martinsville’s school district.  Joe Cleveland, our treasurer visited Monrovia Elementary school and member, Wayne Vaught, visited Eminence Elementary.  Together our young farmer group reached every school district in our county to help educate students about ag.  I was so proud of our young farmers for doing this and I hope to plan more visits to schools in our county for our members.

At my school, Monrovia Elementary School, I planned an Agriculture Appreciation convocation.  All of the students in my school building came to the gym.  There I gave a quick little speech about famers and farming and why it is important we know what they do and to thank them every chance we get.  Then, my principal, Mrs. York, read How Did That Get in my LunchBox?  This book was one of the books we donated in honor of my Dad.  I also made a power point of the pages so our students could see the colorful book pages as Mrs. York read aloud.  When she finished reading I played the Peterson Farm Brothers’ video, I’m so Farmer.  The students and staff absolutely loved the songs and message!

This month I also cowrote an article with my sister, Katie, about women in agriculture that was published in our local newspaper.  I love writing with my sister.  Agriculture has connected us in such a unique way and we love sharing our writing on our blogs and in our hometown publication.

To sum it up, March provides opporutinties for me to share the story of agriculture.  Please say a prayer for farmers as the prepare for the busy planting season.  Pray for safe travel to and from the fields.  Pray for good weather to get the crop in the ground.  And always, always praise and be thankful for their hard work.  Do your part to appreciate agriculture and thank a farmer.

  

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

Celebrate National Ag Month With Us

This month is National Agriculture Month.  With spring right around the corner, March is a perfect month to plant seeds and share the story of agriculture with people.  My sister, Katie and I are passionate about working together to share and educate others about the work farmers and ranchers do for us.

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We loved visiting the sunflower fields with Dad. To this day they are my favorite flower.

Katherine, (that’s what I call her) recently started her own blog, Fancy in the Country where she shares stories about being a farmer’s wife and her life of all things fancy and country.  She also uses her blog as an outlet to share her passion of agriculture.  I started my blog for similar reasons, but the thing I love most about our blogs is they share stories about our father.  The first farmer we knew and loved.  That passion we use and share so immensely in our writing came from him.  He taught us to do things with passion or not at all.  He taught Katherine first and then me.  Now that he is no longer with us, I look to her for this guidance.  Boy she does a fantastic job filling his shoes!

My sister is the most passionate person I know.  I am so lucky and blessed that I get to do this thing called life with her.  I also love that within the past year we have combined our writing skills, thoughts, expertise, and ideas to produce some of the work we share on our blogs.  Looking back I think it’s ironic that the first piece we wrote together was the eulogy we read at our father’s funeral over 5 years ago.  I like to think of it as Dad’s way of making us work together and to discover we have a way with our words when they are written together.  I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for us as we continue to work together in sharing our passion for agriculture.

To sum it up, I ask you to celebrate National Agriculture Month with us!  Mark your calendars for Ag Day on March 18th and stay tuned for more from the Thomas Sisters!

There’s Just Somethin’ Bout a Farmer

For the past couple of months a certain story keeps popping up in my newsfeed on my social media accounts. It’s a story of a fallen Farmer from Illinois. I’ve read it and every time I see this story I’m reminded of a similar story. The story of my own fallen Farmer. The stories are not the same, they never are. But one similarity they do share is the word, “farmer.”

When I go visit my dear friends in Greens Fork, Indiana, one of my homes away from home, the story of my fallen Farmer always comes up in conversation. It especially comes up when I am talking to the mom in this family. She has a story of her own fallen Farmer. She, like me, will always be a Farmer’s daughter. I feel so comfortable talking to her about my Dad and I think she feels the same about hers. Every single time we talk about them she says, “You know Sarah, there’s just somethin’ bout a Farmer,” and she stops there. Neither one of us finishes the sentence. We sit there in silence. Both of us finishing the sentence in our own way. We say the words about ours Dads that are too hard to say out loud, we see the memories we made with them, we hear their voice. We take a moment of silence to remember our Farmers. We take a moment to be thankful for them.

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As you sit down tomorrow to give thanks for the many blessings in your life, take a moment of silence to remember those that are no longer on this earth with us. Take a moment to be thankful for them. Especially those Farmers, well to sum it up, there’s just somethin’ bout them.