(Photos by Gabe Licht) [Order this photo]
Greg Lear explains which cuts of meat come from each area of the animals.
They wrinkle their noses as he tells them the gelatin in gummy bears and marshmallows comes from the hooves of swine and cattle.
It was all part of the Spencer Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee's second annual Ag Experience, which took place Thursday in the Livestock Pavilion at the Clay County Fairgrounds.
"It's just focused on the agricultural impact we have on the area, as well as showcasing to young and old the different types of livestock and their purposes," said Jarrett Smith, president-elect of the Spencer Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. "With kids this age, it's very educational for them and they soak it up like a sponge. Last year, we had comments from adults saying, 'I didn't even know that.'"
Cassie Galm, one of the group leaders for the event, said, "It amazes me how little some people know about agricultural life, when it can literally be in their backyard."
As the state reporter for the Iowa FFA Association, Galm is among the local contingent trying to change that.
"Be the voice for agriculture," Galm said. "Don't be afraid to talk and explain what's going on, to let people know what agriculture is and the life of a farmer is just awesome."
She enjoys being able to excite kids about agriculture and show them the many different career paths related to the field. Raising up a new generation of agriculture enthusiasts is important, she believes.
"The average age of a farmer is 56," Galm said. "There are so many farming operations that we need younger generations to come in and learn how to run them."
Animal science was another agricultural field represented Thursday, as veterinarian Mark Rees was on hand to share a little bit about his profession. Rees was a new addition to the event, as was the corn-based food display.
The event was expected to triple in size, with 250 individuals pre-registered and more than 300 anticipated to attend.
Smith is pleased to see the success of the event, which evolved from a farm and city mixer the Chamber had hosted for about 20 years.
"We kind of changed the format a little bit to get better participation and better education for the folks who live in town about what happens on the farm in agriculture in this area," Smith said.
He also thanked the volunteers who made the event possible.
"We have a great group of volunteers here in the agricultural community that are willing to pitch in and do this," he said. "If it wasn't for those people, this event wouldn't happen."