County Farm Bureaus are Bridging the Gap Between Youth and Agriculture

Sydney Garrett

Communications Assistant

County Activities of Excellence recognizes the following counties for programs focused on education and agricultural promotion. 

photo credit: Coles County Farm Bureau, used with permission.

Through its annual County Activities of Excellence Awards, the American Farm Bureau Federation celebrates county Farm Bureaus for their unique, volunteer-driven programming. The following counties are being recognized for their programs and activities in 2022 and 2023. The programs featured here focused on education and agricultural promotion.

Touch-A -Truck & Tractor – Coles County Farm Bureau, Illinois

With the goal of bridging the rural-urban divide while providing an interactive and fun environment, Coles County Farm Bureau hosted Touch-A-Truck & Tractor. At the event, which helped community youth learn about farm and construction equipment from local professionals who use the equipment in their daily lives, kids were able to climb into the equipment and talk with the operators.

The event also included an educational activity called “Guess the Grain” featuring locally grown crops. Buckets filled with corn, soybeans and wheat were placed on a table along with food from the grocery store. Participants were then asked to match what products came from what type of grain.

Touch-A-Tractor brought students who commonly see farm and construction equipment in their daily lives together to learn more about various types of precision agriculture.

Sow and Tell: Building Bridges in Agriculture – Shelby County Farm Bureau, Illinois

“Sow and Tell: Building Bridges in Agriculture” is a unique program designed to foster meaningful connections between farming families and classrooms. The project brought together four farming families and four classrooms for a pen pal-like program that allowed the students to have many of their farming questions answered. Comprehensive help sheets guided both farmers and students through topics of conversation each month, ensuring a variety of topics were covered.

Beyond the classroom, this program has initiated a broader dialogue about the origins of our food within students' homes, families and communities. Sow and Tell has significantly advanced the Farm Bureau’s mission by promoting the welfare of ag products within Shelby County, IL.

Farmer for a Day – Van Buren County Farm Bureau, Michigan

Van Buren County Farm Bureau’s Promotion and Education Committee conducted two “Farmer for a Day” events to educate local youth about different areas of agriculture within Michigan. Five different education stations were set up at each event, covering agricultural machinery, livestock, pollinators, blueberries and a “make and take” where students created a farm charm they could take home.

The event was hosted at the county’s two schools, ensuring it was easily accessible to all the students. Kindergarten through fifth grades participated for a total of over 900 students and 50 teachers completing all the stations. At the end of the event, each teacher was given a gift bag containing five accurate agriculture books they could use in their classroom.

“Farmer for a Day” not only helped increase Farm Bureau’s connection with local youth, but also with potential new members. Of the 20 volunteers needed to host the event, eight of them were community members who were not currently Farm Bureau members. The goal was to share the benefits and impacts that Farm Bureau has on its community and members.

I Love Strawberries – Meeker County Farm Bureau, Minnesota

To increase agricultural literacy, Meeker County Farm Bureau hosted a live reading of “I LOVE Strawberries,” written by Shannon Anderson, to 127 local first grade students. Students were given fresh strawberries to enjoy while being read the book by a local strawberry farmer and Farm Bureau members. After the reading, students had the chance to ask questions about strawberry farming and other types of agriculture.

At the event's end, each student was given their own copy of “I LOVE Strawberries” to share with their families. Additionally, each teacher was provided with an educator’s guide to use in their classroom and six strawberry plants were donated to the school garden.

Building for the Future of Agriculture – Muskingum County Farm Bureau, Ohio

One goal of the Muskingum County Farm Bureau is to increase awareness about careers in agriculture with local youth in their community. To achieve this goal, they repurposed an under used building at their county fair as a “Building for the Future of Agriculture.”

The space allowed youth to interact with displays about different careers in agriculture and participate in hands-on activities led by the summer intern and volunteers. The project reached over 1,500 fairgoers while increasing the community’s knowledge of Muskingum County Farm Bureau.

These counties displayed their winning activities at the 2024 American Farm Bureau Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, in January. County award winners received up to four free registrations to the Convention (cost of travel and housing not included) and a $2,250 stipend to apply toward the cost of travel and exhibition. More information on the County Activities of Excellence can be found here.