FDA takes ag history on the road with exhibit
JOHN BUCHANANThe Florida Department of Agriculture has debuted another aspect of its innovative educational program designed to celebrate 500 years of agricultural history.
Published: March 6, 2013
Published: March 6, 2013
A traveling exhibit titled "Florida Agriculture: Then and Now" made its first official appearances last month at the Florida State Fair in Tampa and Southwest Florida and Lee County Fair in Fort Myers.
Developed in partnership with and funded by a grant from the Florida Department of State, the exhibit delivers a comprehensive, interactive overview of the fascinating history and evolution of the Sunshine State's agriculture industry.
"One of the things we wanted to do as part of the overall program we created to celebrate 500 years of our agricultural history was develop a traveling exhibit that would go all over the state during 2013 and showcase where Florida agriculture has been and where it is currently," said Erica Der, agricultural education liaison at FDA.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam personally led the charge to develop the exhibit, Der explained.
"It highlights all of the major commodity-growing areas in Florida, including citrus, nursery plants and row crops, cattle, livestock, aquaculture and fruits and vegetables," Der said. "It shows how each kind of crop or type of livestock began in Florida and where they are grown or raised today."
The innovative exhibit features educational texts and historical photos, as well as a videotaped welcome message and overview of Florida agriculture from Putnam.
"The exhibit was designed to be educational, informative and fun," Der said. "And it's very interactive. For example, the citrus exhibit gives you the opportunity to pick oranges and put them in a picking bag, just like you would if you were out in a grove. On the cattle and timber side, you have the chance to emboss a brand on a sheet of paper so you can actually experience how that process has worked."
Vina Jean Banks, director of agribusiness at the Florida State Fair, said the FDA exhibit is the most comprehensive educational presentation event at the fair in her 22 years there.
"It's an outstanding display and a really original way to promote Florida agriculture," Banks said. "It's extremely important, because as in everything we do at the fair, agriculture is a very important topic. So the more we can put the importance of agriculture before the public, the better off we are as a state."
The new exhibit joins an ongoing series of "university forum" panel discussions at Florida colleges and universities and an arts-based program in schools that also were created to highlight 500 years of agricultural history.
"I think he has done such a great job because he grew up in the Florida agricultural industry and he has a real passion for agriculture," Banks said. "He was always very active in 4-H and he remains proactive about 4-H and FFA and how important it is for young people to learn at an early age about the role agriculture plays in the state's economy."
Upcoming appearances of the "Florida Agriculture: Then and Now" exhibit include the Polk County Agrifest in Bartow Friday through March 22; the Clay County Fair in Green Grove Springs April 4-9; Florida Southern College in Lakeland April 10-30; the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga., Oct. 14-17; and South Florida Fair in West Palm Beach Jan. 17 to Feb. 2, 2014.
For more information or to book the exhibit, call (863) 899-4811 or visit FreshFromFlorida.com.