You will have the opportunity for to take part in a new agricultural literacy experience at the 2014 Nebraska State Fair. The Nebraska State Fair Board recently reviewed plans for the "The Nebraska Agriculture Experience that will be housed within the new Nebraska Building now under construction at Fonner Park, home to the state fair in Grand Island.
The 25,000-quarerfoot exhibit is a collaborative effort between the Nebraska State Fair, which is providing the building; the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for coordinating the efforts of the state's commodity groups; and the UNL Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The latter is developing and managing the educational display area.
"The focus of this experience is providing visitors with an innovative, interactive view of where Nebraska agriculture is today and where it's headed," says Dr. Chuck Hibberd, dean of extension at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. "This will be a comprehensive look at food production in the state—and how Nebraska is positioned for global leadership in feeding the world."
UNL Extension is taking a lead role on the project in terms of content development, educational delivery and overall concept and design.
While the experience opens during the 2014 State Fair, it will be open year-round. IANR has committed to funding a full-time Extension educator to manage the area and coordinate visits from school groups, trade teams and other visitors throughout the year.
Through the use of technology, several components of the experience will be available worldwide—allowing Nebraska agriculture to tell its story outside the walls of the building, Hibberd adds.
Key areas of focus will include water management, technology and innovation, animal agriculture, the new bioeconomy, crop production, environmental stewardship, the economic impact of agriculture in Nebraska and consumer-focused information about food production and food safety.
"The emphasis will be on interactive experiences that focus on helping consumers better understand and appreciate the scope and impact of Nebraska agriculture—and how farmers and ranchers are responsibly producing the food, feed, fuel and fiber for a growing global population," Hibberd says. "We intend for this experience to talk about what consumers what to know about farming, ranching and food production."
A fundraising goal of $5 million has been set for the project, with just over $1 million of that total targeted to an endowment to cover ongoing maintenance, utilities and other costs. Several contributions or pledges have been received from a number of groups, including the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Ethanol Board, Nebraska Wheat Board, Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, and the Nebraska Soybean Board.
Individuals, organizations or companies wishing to learn more about underwriting opportunities can Stuart Shepherd at 308-530-7351.
In addition to the Nebraska Agriculture Experience, the new Nebraska Building will also house the Nebraska State Fair offices and educational displays and exhibits from the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission.