FFA members educate at Black Hills Stock Show
For the first time, the state organization will host an interactive booth for all ages
The students have become the teachers.
For the first time, FFA members from across South Dakota will host their very own agricultural educational booth at the Black Hills Stock Show.
Officially kicking off Jan. 29 and running through Feb. 6, 2021, the Black Hills Stock Show, at the Civic Center in Rapid City, South Dakota, hosts thousands of visitors each year – from longtime ranchers, to curious soccer moms and their energetic kids.
Dani Herring, the state’s Executive Secretary and former advisor in Wall, South Dakota, said the Sutton family invited SD FFA to take over a booth that had recently been vacated in the Rodeo Zone (known as the Ice Arena other times of the year.)
“We provide interactive ag exhibits at the state fair every year. They wanted something similar to that for the Stock Show. We said ‘Absolutely. We’ll do it.’”
In addition to the booth space, the state FFA organization has access to the stage for an hour each afternoon from 2 p.m to 3 p.m., when they will host a different educational speaker each day, with state FFA officers and other members taking the stage on FFA Day – Sunday, Jan. 31.
Along with the state officer team- which will split up, with three taking the first half of the Stock Show and three taking the second half, all of the West River FFA chapters have been invited to help at the booth.
As of press time, Rapid City, Sturgis, Faith, Harding County, Philip, Belle Fourche, Lemmon, Hot Springs, and Newell planned to take part.
South Dakota state FFA Secretary Hunter Eide, Gettysburg, said he has helped with the Ag Adventure Center at the state fair in the past, and even remembers enjoying the interactive puzzles as a kid.
Of course, new items are added each year, and the BHSS display will include a recipe kiosk, interactive puzzles with wholesale beef cuts, educational items about dairy, hogs, poultry, buffalo, soybeans, corn and more. A cheese puzzle should fill in some educational holes and a plywood cow cutout, complete with an udder made of bottles that kids can milk – was made Philip, South Dakota, and will be on hand to satisfy the curiosity of little hands.
Herring said each of the daily speakers was also invited to spend time in the booth. Some won’t be able to, but some, such as a wool spinner on Tuesday, Feb. 2, will join the FFA students’ educational endeavors.
Eide looks forward to working at the booth and said that throughout his years as an FFA officer he has been presented with a variety of questions, including ‘what is FFA?’ and ‘is this really where my food comes from?’
Eide said at the state fair, many people who stop at the booth want to understand more about the production, packaging and marketing of their food.
“It is insightful to me that something that has always been obvious isn’t as apparent to everyone. We help people understand that their food doesn’t just come from the store – it starts out on the hoof, and goes through many steps to make it to the plate.”
Interacting with a variety of people is enjoyable to Eide. “It is important to start conversations about agriculture. Whether it is an FFA member talking to a kid with questions about animals or listening and learning from a farmer or rancher about how agriculture has affected his life. As South Dakota’s number one industry, it is important that we keep this conversation on the forefront of everyone’s minds,” said the South Dakota State University freshman with a double major in human biology and pre-med, who plans to return to his home community as a family practice physician.
Eide, who grew up on a cattle, soybean, sunflower and wheat farm and ranch, has not shown or judged livestock at the Black Hills Stock Show in the past, although many FFA members do.
The well-loved petting zoo at the Black Hills Stock Show was an FFA-run activity but is not manned by FFA members any longer, said Herring, who explained that accessing appropriate animals and workers became next to impossible.
Herring will spend the entire week overseeing the booth and many other advisors and FFA members will help out throughout the event.
Speakers will be from 2 pm to 3 pm in on the stage in the Rodeo Zone.
January 29, Electrical Safety, hosted by Touchstone Electric Cooperative.
Jan. 30, Today’s Agriculture, hosted by South Dakota Farm Bureau
Jan. 31, FFA Day, hosted by SD FFA State Officers and members
Feb. 1, Soil and Range Health hosted by SD Soil Health Coalition and NRCS
Feb. 2, Sheep Day, hosted by SDSU Extension
Feb. 3, Precision Ag Integration, hosted by RDO Equipment Company
Feb. 4, Beef Day, hosted by SD Beef Industry Council, featuring Miss Rodeo America and SD Junior Beef Ambassadors
Feb. 5, Creating Tomorrow Today, the Future of Meat Processing, hosted by Tyson Fresh Meats
Feb. 6, Pork Day, hosted by SD Pork Producers Council
Sponsored by South Dakota Farm Bureau, Rodeo Rapid City and SD FFA Foundation
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In response to the severe drought conditions in the West and Great Plains, the Agriculture Department this week announced that plans to help cover the cost of transporting feed for livestock that rely on grazing.