Children Enjoy the Gift of Agriculture through Art

By Lydia Zerby

At the Iowa State Fair, opportunities to engage with fairgoers about food, farming and agriculture are endless. Each year, the Iowa Food & Family Project (Iowa FFP) creates an engaging and informative exhibit highlighting how agriculture impacts and is integrated into consumers’ daily lives.

In 2022, Iowa FFP’s exhibit was “Agriculture is Iowa’s Masterpiece.” Thousands of people visited the display located in the southeast atrium of the Varied Industries Building. At the center of the Fair exhibit was an amazing celebration of Iowa agriculture, created throughout the Fair by eight-area artists. Each artist created a mural masterpiece depicting everything from farm animals to generations on the farm to locally grown and raised food. Lisa Rasmussen, a farmer who grows corn and soybeans and raises pigs near Goldfield, notes, “This was a fantastic tribute to agriculture! Thanks for allowing people to see the artists’ work in progress. As an art girl myself, I especially appreciate this too.” 

In partnership with Iowa’s commodity groups who collaborate with Iowa FFP, strategic locations were chosen to donate the final mural creations. As a new partner and content contributor with Iowa FFP, UnityPoint Health (UPH) came to mind as having a potential location for one of the murals. After a discussion between the Iowa FFP and UPH teams, locating the mural at UPH’s Child Development Center in Des Moines was determined to be a perfect fit!

In April, the mural was installed and revealed to the staff and children at the Child Development Center. Read below about the highlights and activities during the presentation event.

Sue Huffman, director of UPH’s Child Development Center in Des Moines, welcomes the children, teachers and Iowa FFP team.

The children are excited and eager to ask questions about the mural.

Lydia Zerby, consumer insights and engagement manager with Iowa FFP explains the mural’s background and how Iowa FFP engages with families about food, farming and agriculture.

Huffman and Joyce McDanel, vice president of human resources for UPH, pull down the curtain to reveal the colorful and eye-catching mural.

The delight on the children’s faces is infectious as they get their first look at the mural, which is installed just inside the main entrance of the Child Development Center.

Ally Frame, the local artist who created the mural, talks with the children about her inspiration for the design, colors and theme.

Downstairs in the gym, Alyson Fendrick, marketing communications manager with Midwest Dairy, reads the children’s book, “Tales of the Dairy Godmother: Chuck’s Ice Cream Wish.” The book takes children through the inner workings of a dairy farm and shows what it takes to be a dairy farmer. Please note, by clicking the book link, you’ll be leaving a partially funded checkoff site.

After listening to Fendrick read the book, the children participated in “cow yoga,” which helped them to “moo-ve” their bodies in different ways.

Fendrick passed out cow hats to all the children, which they found “dairy” funny!

The children pose with Frame.

The Iowa FFP team thanks the staff at UPH and Midwest Dairy for coming together to create this fun and exciting event.

Pictured from left to right: Donna Kennebeck, daycare supervisor; Sue Huffman; Ally Frame; Lydia Zerby; Angie Fagervik-Chia, senior community relations specialist, UPH; Ann Thelen, Thelen Public Relations; Alyson Fendrick; and Brianna Schechinger, creative design coordinator, Iowa Soybean Association.