South Dakota FFA will have a new addition to its building on the state fairgrounds set up to showcase modern agriculture.
The South Dakota FFA Foundation received a $6,000 grant through Farm Credit Services of America’s (FCSAmerica) Working Here Fund, it was announced Aug. 7.
It will be used to build a breezeway between two existing FFA buildings and add new exhibits focused on teaching the public about modern agriculture.
“We do live in an ag state — we’re very ag oriented, but there’s still a lot of people that don’t know where their food comes from,” building superintendent Chris Howard said.
Construction of the breezeway — measuring about 60 feet by 14 feet — started the week of Aug. 5. It connects the current Ag Adventure Center barn and the building to the north that houses FFA exhibits. The exhibit building — currently a rough pole building — will be finished inside as part of the upgrade. Some new exhibits will be ready in time for the State Fair, which runs Aug. 29 through Sept. 2 in Huron, and more will be completed for the 2020 fair.
New exhibits include a beekeeping wall where visitors can view bees working in a hive, a grain auger and grain safety exhibit, and a feature on making cheese.
“We’re excited about the dairy manufacturing side to show agriculture beyond the farm a little bit,” FFA Foundation director Geri Eide said.
They also hope to have a dairy cow ready to calve on site during the fair, she said. It ties in well with the robotic milking system on display outside the FFA building, Eide added.
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The building has long been a spot where fair visitors can see young farm animals. Howard took his piglets there 30 years ago, he said, and today showcases sows and piglets in a modern farrowing crate. There are also eggs hatching in incubators and baby chicks.
“It’s a popular spot,” Howard said.
Another new exhibit on soil health gives a glimpse of an important part of agriculture people don’t usually see beneath the soil surface.
Focusing on safety around grain bins, a new grain tug-of-war will demonstrate how heavy grain can be when trying to pull an object out of it.
About 75 FFA members work in the ag adventure center during the State Fair, teaching visitors about agriculture and FFA's role in the future of the industry.
“Implementing these exhibits will bring youth and adults into direct contact with areas of agriculture they do not typically get to see up-close,” Eide said in a news release. “It will also build leadership in our FFA members who work in the facility, as they will be trained in answering questions on more diverse areas of agriculture than they themselves may be involved in.”
Eide thanked those in the ag industry who supported the project.