Minnesota soybean farmers were busy in April visiting schools and sharing their story as part of Provider Pals, a program that allows schools to adopt farmers, ranchers, miners and loggers.
During the week of April 13-17, the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, which invests soybean checkoff dollars into Provider Pals, sponsored six soybean farmers across the state of Minnesota to go into schools and form a connection with kids from elementary students to high school students, about agriculture and the food that is grown in our state.
“I was asked a few times what I like best about farming,” Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) Director Theresia Gillie said as she recapped her experience. “Mostly, I tried to enforce that we are good at what we do, and we want to make money and make a living,” she said. “They understood that very well. We discussed the cost of production and the cost of equipment. We talked about the chemicals we use and why we use them. The size of the equipment is a little hard to understand, but when I told them my combine header was wider than the room we were in, they were a little shocked.”
MSGA Director Matt Widboom is a longtime participant in Provider Pals and has gone into various schools to talk to kids about farming.
“The first time I heard Bruce Vincent from Provider Pals speak, I became inspired to become involved and had the opportunity when Minnesota Soybean took the step to become a partner of the program.”
Through his years of connecting with kids around the state, Widboom said there are usually a few common themes and questions that come forward no matter the location.
“Whenever I am in big-city schools, there is a lot of surprised looks when I tell them my kids ride the bus for an hour to and from school.” Widboom said. “For me, the cattle always generate a lot of questions like what we name them.”
When looking at the overall goal of the program, Widboom said he tries to make it as personal as possible.
“I talk a lot about my kids, our pets and the things we do as a family to show that our family is just like each of theirs,” he said. The job of a farmer is very unique compared to what most of their parents do but they are excited to learn about it.”