Archive for Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hands-on soil exhibit to stop at Ag Hall

November 10, 2010

Food doesn’t arrive on the dinner table only from a grocery store.

“It has to grow somewhere,” says Cheri Miller, district manager with the Wyandotte County Conservation District.

That “somewhere” includes soil, of course, and the importance of soil and the effects soil has on many areas of our ecosystem is the subject of a traveling exhibit this weekend at the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame.

The Soil Tunnel Trailer will be a featured attraction during the Harvest Celebration at the Ag Hall. The 12- by- 8 1/2 - foot trailer houses a museum-quality exhibit that includes roots hanging from the ceiling, fossils and three-dimensional models of the living organisms, such as worms, centipedes and insects, that make their homes underground. The manmade effects on soil, like wells and septic systems, are also represented.

“What it does is it provides an elastic view of the world beneath our feet,” Miller said.

The Miami County Conservation District designed the trailer as a way, Miller said, “to make that connection with kids between soil and where their food comes from.” Before it was entirely completed, the trailer had its debut showing during the Wyandotte County Conservation District’s annual Water Rally in April at the Theodore Naish Scout Reservation.

Since then, Miller said, it has traveled across Kansas, making stops at schools, fairs and special events.

“We’re hoping to connect people again with our natural resources that are available and what they provide us and the importance of maintaining those natural resources,” Miller said, adding that soil is a precious, and even scarce, commodity. “Two percent of our soil is viable to grow food for over 6.5 billion people. It kind of gives the idea that’s why it’s important … there’s a lot of things that go into making the food that gets on our table.”

Miller said the Soil Tunnel Trailer was funded in part through a grant from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, through sponsorships and funding provided by the Miami County Conservation District. It’s meant to be utilized, she said, by all the 105 conservation districts in Kansas.

The trailer isn’t just for youths, however. Miller said the exhibit also has some components adults might find enjoyable, as well, including a 45-minute film called “Dirt” that highlights different soils found across the planet.

“It’s just a good, hands-on exhibit,” Miller said. “It brings a lot of questions more from adults a lot of times than from the students. It’s a good conversation starter.”

The Harvest Celebration will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Ag Hall, 630 N. 126th St. Festival admission, which is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $3 for youths ages 5-16, allows for free admission to the Soil Tunnel Trailer. Activities just outside the trailer will include soil painting and seed mosaics. Other activities at the celebration will include square dancing in the barn, canning demonstrations, miniature train rides and more.

For more information about the Soil Tunnel Trailer, contact the Wyandotte County Conservation District at (913) 334-6329.

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