Investing in the future: New Ag Education Center in Cresco, Iowa
You often hear stories about kids that don’t know where their milk, meat and eggs come from. Now, there are no more excuses in Cresco, IA. Over the summer, a new Ag Education Center was opened at the local Mighty Howard County Fair in Cresco and it has been a great success.
The Ag Education Center is over 20,000 square feet and hosts more than 120 pigs. The center also has dairy cattle and sheep. There are numerous education sessions within the center, which focus on a wide range of topics including: genetics, nutrition, marketing, bookkeeping, health, animal selection and show ring basics. The Center is equipped with state-of-the art technology to support animal confinement comfort and biosecurity.
The effort is a great example on how many people in the pork sector come together to create more awareness about animal agriculture. The Howard County Agricultural Society, who manages the fair, developed the initiative after youth participation in swine projects dwindled following the PEDv outbreak. The society’s goal was to provide the public, and especially children and students, access to modern swine production, while maintaining biosecurity. Many local producers and companies, including PIC, supported the project with financial and in-kind donations. Reicks View Farms, a family farm in Iowa, was one of the major supporters and the center was named after them. Paris Foods, a PIC customer, provided the pigs.
Dale Hover, Account Manager at PIC, visited the Center during the fair and saw how kids lined up all day to watch the farrowing of PIC sows. Dr. Laura Bruner, from the Swine Vet Center in St. Peter, Minnesota was on hand to help kids dry the pigs. When one sow was having difficulty farrowing, Dr. Bruner had the kids put on sleeves and help pull the pigs. Most of these kids had never been around a pig or had seen a sow farrow.
Gary Sovereign, President of the Howard County Agricultural Society, has been very pleased with the first months since the opening. Gary stated: “The response has been overwhelming. Already more kids have expressed interest in signing up for next year than we had originally planned.”
These types of centers offer one of the best opportunities to educate the consumers and developed the next generation of farmers.