I still remember the first time I heard the phrase “thank a farmer.” As a senior in a small high school in rural Nebraska, it had simply never occurred to me that I even needed to say thank you to a farmer. I saw many farmers on a daily basis, and I knew where my food came from, I just never thought about showing any sort of gratitude towards them.
Within a couple of months, my perception of the agricultural industry changed greatly. In the summer of 2010, I attended the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute for the first time. NAYI is a five day conference held on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s East Campus for high school juniors and seniors. The conference focuses on the agricultural industry and educates students on how important agriculture is in everyday life. For the first time, I realized how fortunate I was to grow up on a farm and know where my food comes from. The speakers we listened to at NAYI taught us how to share what we know about agriculture with others and how valuable the agricultural industry is to the entire world. I left NAYI that year with a new passion for agriculture, and I wanted to find a way to share it with everyone that I could.
A couple of months later, I was walking through the Nebraska State Fair when I walked past a magic show. I’m not usually one to be attracted to magic shows, but this one definitely caught my attention. There was a large group of children surrounding a small stage with a woman on the stage. This lady was not dressed the way you might expect a magician to dress; instead of a black cape and top had, she was wearing denim overalls and shoes that resembled the spots on a dairy cow. The sign on the stage next to her read “The Ag Magic Show” and she had a case full of props for her magic tricks. However, the most interesting thing about this show was that after she would finish every trick, she would have all the children yell the phrase “thank a farmer!” I was amazed at what she was doing. Most of these kids probably lived in a city and knew very little about where their food comes from or who produces it. This lady was using simple magic tricks to engage the kids and then she would work in some interesting agricultural facts to teach the kids how important farmers were to the world. I watched the rest of the show, and afterwards I went up and talked to the woman in overalls. She told me that her daughter, Rhonda, started Thank a Farmer as a way to educate others about what farmers do for us. They travel around to fairs and other events making these presentations to educate children and adults.
Here, Rhonda is signing her “Fun Farm Facts” book for children who attend her show.
(Photo courtesy of: http://www.thankafarmer.org/2014/food-for-thought/it-takes-a-village)