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Illinois Children’s Museum adding Ag-Mazing display
By TIM ALEXANDER
Illinois Correspondent

NORMAL, Ill. — The Children’s Discovery Museum of Central Illinois, located in Normal and situated among thousands of acres of the richest farmland in America, is raising $1 million to create “the premier agriculture exhibit in the country,” museum officials said.

The permanent exhibit, set to debut on the museum’s second floor this fall, will allow children with no hands-on experience in agriculture to relate to the importance of farming in the area.

“The United States has the safest, most affordable food supply and yet many school children (and their parents) think their food comes from the grocery store,” said Museum Director Shari Buckellew. The museum, along with the University of Illinois Extension Service and the McLean County Farm Bureau is developing the permanent exhibit, to be called AgMazing.

The exhibit will highlight the importance of the agricultural industry in Illinois, the relevance of agricultural products in a child’s everyday life, and the use of science and technology on today’s farms.

Museum officials said fabrication will begin this spring with installation beginning in the fall; a tentative opening date for October has been set.

The exhibit, which will be seen by around 150,000 kids and parents each year, will feature four main components: planting season, harvest, feeding dairy cows, and processing grain.

Kids will be able to “drive” a tractor and “unload” a combine, make equipment repairs, “plant” wooden crops and seeds, hook milk machines to cows, learn about the planting, processing and shipping of crops, and making cereal and other farm-related products.

Sources claim fund-raising efforts have already reached the $500,000 mark, but more donations are needed.

“Your donation will help educate the future leaders of tomorrow about agriculture today, improve the public’s knowledge of the agriculture industry, and market your organization to over 150,000 visitors every year,” Buckellew said.

Donations may be sent to the museum at 101 E. Beaufort St., Normal, Ill., 61761.

For information on donating, contact Buckellew at the museum by phone at 309-433-3444.

This farm news was published in the May 24, 2006 issue of Farm World.

5/24/2006