by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune
---- — Layne and Liam Klein watched with wide smiles as they let water stream out the bottom of cups they hovered over a model of Logansport, complete with tiny buildings and toy cars.
“Make it rain!” said Judy Buttice, administrator at the Cass County Soil and Water Conservation District.
It was a statement she made to children throughout the day Saturday, explaining afterward how rain can take pollution into the city’s groundwater. Then she would point to tiny cubes cut from sponges soaking up the water on the model, representing wetlands, to illustrate how certain plants can absorb pollutants before they seep into the ground.
“You need to make kids aware that even if they plant a tree, it helps,” Buttice said. “They’re not going to go out and build a wetland, but now they know.”
It was one of several activities amid the row of silos towering before the corn and soy fields at the Baker Brothers’ Farm off of Ind. 17 Saturday, where attendees of Cass County Farm View 2013 harvested knowledge several of them said would promote more awareness and respect for the industry.
Layne and Liam’s father, Mark Klein, said he feels events like Farm View are important for kids because they help instill a respect and knowledge for agriculture that will preserve it for the future.
“So they can continue on,” he said. “So they can keep doing what needs to be done to try and help the country thrive.”
Jessica Galbreath, a summer intern at the Purdue Cass County Extension Office, was handing out bags of trail mix to kids, each element of which corresponded to something pigs need in their diet as well. For instance, the soy nuts in the mix corresponded with protein for pigs, while the kids’ raisins paralleled with the vitamins pigs need in their feed.
Galbreath said the event promoted community cohesion, awareness and education.
“It really brings the community together and informs others that don’t know about farming in the community,” she said.
A poster board at her table displayed facts about pork production in the area, like how Cass County is ranked as the 14th largest producer of pork products in Indiana, which itself is fifth in the country.
Jeremy Wise, secretary of the Cass County 4-H Junior Leaders, volunteered at the event. He said he grew up on a farm helping his grandfather with wheat, oats, corn and soybeans every year and that it was important for him to participate in the event to show that younger generations care about the industry.
“It’s good for us kids to care,” he said. “We’re going to keep it the way it has been for hundreds of years.”
Beyond the tent housing all of the games and activities, attendees browsed farming equipment on the property and visited a petting zoo of goats, pigs, a cow, horse, donkey and rabbits.
There was plenty for adults to check out as well.
At the Dow AgroSciences table, Sara Bennett and Larry Sernya were talking to visitors about their two corn plants on display. One was a standard corn plant and the other contained a transgenic agent that deters corn earworms. Because the plants looked almost identical, the only way for attendees to tell which one was which was to take a sample from the plants’ leaves, mash them up inside test tubes filled with a saltwater solution and apply test strips that would reveal the identities.
Bennett said the agent can allow farmers to have pest-resistant plants without having to spray chemicals.
“And it’s in there all the time, so it’s always working,” Sernya added.
The table also featured two different kinds of popcorn, one that was cooked with olive oil and another in a canola oil with far less fats.
Sernya said about 60 percent of participants favored the taste of the healthier popcorn.
“We typically see that,” he continued, adding that their recent visit to the Indiana State Fair saw a 70 to 80 percent favor rating for the healthier popcorn.
Jerry McQuiston and Deb Ploss of First Farmers Bank & Trust offered a game in the spirit of Plinko at their table. Participants would drop a ball down the board that would land within a question category having to do with agriculture or financing. Together, the two dispensed trivia — for example, there are 24 million farmers in the country, or dairy cows produce up to 7 gallons of milk a day.
McQuiston said their participation in the event was to contribute toward the theme of the day.
“A lot of people in town don’t get the chance to get out and farm,” McQuiston said. “The biggest thing is to give everyone an understanding of agriculture. It’s not just somebody out there with pigs and cows.”
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.