Agriculture has long been a cornerstone in Iowa’s history, and the Iowa Hall of Pride has decided to pay tribute to this sector along with the help of the ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The Iowa Hall of Pride, which opened eight years ago and is located in downtown Des Moines, was initially started to pay tribute to Iowa high school extracurricular activities.
It has since branched off into areas that honor Iowa’s history, like agriculture.
“We wanted to showcase what is good in Iowa,” said Jack Lashier, director of the Iowa Hall of Pride. “Agriculture is an industry people are moving farther and farther away from, and we wanted to give people a way to connect to it.”
The agricultural exhibit, which opened Dec. 19, 2012, features interactive activities such as the interior of a combine and displays the growing cycle of corn using time-lapse photography.
Lashier said the main goal of the exhibit is to educate the children that visit the Hall of Pride about the agricultural sector; the Iowa Hall of Pride has about 50,000 child visitors every year.
The exhibit also includes a video kiosk which features testimonies by six current ISU students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and by Dean Wendy Wintersteen.
The students are seen describing their majors, the different career opportunities that the agriculture industry offers and their experiences at Iowa State.
One student participant in the exhibit, Nathan Johnston, senior in agricultural business, stressed the need to educate Iowa’s youth about agriculture and how a person does not have to have an agricultural background to work in agriculture.
“It is important to educate the youth about agriculture because of how huge of an economic driver it is and how it impacts how we live our lives every day,” Johnston said.
Funding for this exhibit came from a collaboration between agriculture companies and individuals, with an end result of $335,000 for the exhibit.
Wintersteen said the college was approached by Charles Sukup, president of Sukup Manufacturing Co., about this exhibit, asking if they were interested in partaking in it.
“We were blown away by the quality of the exhibits,” Wintersteen said. “The message is fantastic, and we immediately knew how important it was to be part of it.”
Wintersteen, in her video portion, spoke about the opportunities Iowa State held and the growing need in the agriculture sector.
She pointed out that the population of the college had grown 30 percent from 2006 to 2010 and highlighted the college’s job placement rate over the past decade, which has been 97 to 98 percent.
Wintersteen said that participating in this exhibit was critically important for the college in order to maintain an informed population so the right kind of policies can be made in the future, and to keep things moving in the right direction.
“So many people think agriculture is just about farming, but there are so many other things that are part of it,” Wintersteen said. “Children will now see and understand agriculture more and will hopefully increase their interest in it.”