Fairgoers get Agricultural Education from CHS Miracle of Birth Center

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. – Nearly two million people experienced the Minnesota State Fair during a 12-day period with over half of those fairgoers visiting the FFA Chapter House and Leadership Center, CHS Miracle of Birth Center and Christensen Farms Stage. Alec Harder from the New Ulm FFA chapter served as a (CHS Miracle of Birth Center barnyard attendant or FFA Chapter House Ambassador for Leadership) during this year’s fair.

Throughout the fair, the general public has an opportunity to connect with agricultural education whether they come from a farm or an urban neighborhood.

The CHS Miracle of Birth Center houses the largest free exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair, attracting over a million fairgoers to see the birth of nearly 200 calves, lambs and piglets. The CHS Miracle of Birth Center also houses several other animal species such as goats, rabbits and poultry. This year, the CHS Miracle of Birth Center was named the Minnesota State Fair’s Best Animal Exhibit by WCCO.

To participate, barnyard attendants fill out an application in the spring before state fair and are then asked to interview at the annual state convention. Attendants are selected based on their communication skills and background in agriculture. Each day, barnyard attendants wake up early in the morning, sometimes as early at 3 a.m., to do chores for the animals or partake in media interviews. These activities, along with questions from the public during the facility’s open hours, allow students to positively promote animal agriculture.

“The state fair is a chance for millions of people to connect with agriculture in a way they normally don’t during the average day. Through interactive experiences and conversations with real farmers, people start to connect the food they are eating with the hands that produce it as a result of what happens at the state fair,” commented Rebekka Paskewitz, the 2016-17 Minnesota FFA Reporter.

The CHS Miracle of Birth Center involves a collaborative partnership between the Minnesota FFA Association, the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association. The current facility completed construction in 2006 and is nearly triple the size of the previous building.

Many volunteers, including experienced veterinarians, students studying to be veterinarians, CHS employees and FFA members, staff the exhibit. All of these volunteers work to inform fairgoers about animal agriculture’s dedication to welfare, the economy and healthy lifestyles.

The FFA Chapter House and Leadership Center is attached to the CHS Miracle of Birth Center and encouraged guests to consider agriculture as a career through hands-on activities engaging students and adults in thousands of possible career. Sponsors of the FFA Chapter House and Leadership Center include the CHS Foundation, Northland Ford, Minnesota Soybean Growers, AgriBank, AgStar Financial Services, Minnesota Corn Growers, Wells Fargo, West Central, Inc., CF Industries, Hormel Foods, McDonald’s, Minnesota Biofuels Association, Minnesota Grain and Feed Association, Ralco, Rosen’s Diversified and United FCS.

During each day of the fair, the Christensen Farms Stage features performances and entertainment that educate guests about agriculture. This includes the daily Thank-a-Farmer Magic Show by Rhonda Ross, FFA talent acts, agriculture commodity demonstrations, contests, audience games, guest speakers and other events.

Anyone can donate to the Minnesota State Fair Foundation and specifically restrict their gift to agricultural education purposes. In addition to the CHS Miracle of Birth Center and FFA Chapter House, previous donors have helped support the Horticulture Building, AgStar Arena and Moo Booth. Supporting agricultural education at the Minnesota State Fair not only helps youth in 4-H and FFA develop agriculture and leadership skills, but it also connects the public with agriculturists.

The Minnesota State Fair has been a historical event since 1859 after being granted statehood the year before. Traditionally an agriculture event, fairgoers also come to be entertained, show off various skills, learn about new products and enjoy many different types of food.

To learn more about agricultural education projects and needs, contact (651) 288-4323 or info@mnffoundation.org for more information.