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Bureau County Ag Fair best kept secret

Posted: Wednesday, Mar 28th, 2012

Tim Harris explains the use of dairy equipment to fourth grade students at the 18th Annual Ag Fair, March 15 at the Bureau County Fairgrounds. (Photo contributed)

PRINCETON - In an effort to demonstrate to all the fourth graders in Bureau County the importance of agriculture in their lives, the Bureau County Farm Bureau Women's Committee held its 18th Annual Ag Fair on March 15. The Ag Fair is a daylong event at the Bureau County Fair Grounds in which students made timed stops to 14 different stations. These stations ranged from dairy, embryology, safety, pork, corn, seed science, conservation, beef, soybeans, wheat, crop scouting, equipment, large animals and small animals.

The Farm Bureau Women's Committee and the Bureau County Ag Coalition Committee originally started Ag Fair. The Ag Coalition Committee consists of a member from each participating Ag Fair station. This committee was originally formed to develop and oversee the goals set for the Ag Fair. Over time, the Ag Coalition Committee has handed the organizing process over to the Women's Committee, where the chair and co-chair persons take the lead on final decision-making. The Ag Coalition Members then handle the planning of their individual presentations. Each year the Ag Fair is evaluated. Any considerations for changes come through observation of the event, teacher's input from evaluation sheets and suggestions made by volunteers.

The committee begins the planning process about 5 months in advance of the Ag Fair each year. The committee works with local businesses, farmers, county commodity groups, U of I Extension, the local FS and SWCD as well as state commodity groups to make presentations at each station. Volunteers are recruited, a total of 75, to serve as presenters, leaders of the classes, time keepers, bus parkers, goodie bag distributors and several other jobs including set-up and clean-up workers.

The day prior to the fair the presenters take time to set up their displays and the set-up crew puts up tables, chairs, and partitions at each station. The day of the fair coffee, juice, rolls, and lunch, provided by local businesses, are served to all the presenters and volunteers.

Following the Ag Fair, each student was given a bag of goodies that the committee put together which contains items donated by each of the presenters from coloring books to balloons and pencils. The teachers were given an evaluation that will assist not only the committee but also the presenters next year. As a follow up, the committee is sponsoring a thank you card drive for all the volunteers for the event. Students are encouraged to draw about their favorite part of the educational event.

A teacher attending a past Ag Fair best sums up the event, "Ag Fair is the best-kept secret in Bureau County." This year over 435 students from 23 classrooms attended the Ag Fair.

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