Now, children in the Chicago area have a hands-on opportunity to learn more about soybeans in a new exhibit at the Farm-in-the-Zoo Presented by John Deere . Soybeans: Growing Food, Growing World was unveiled to key officials during a ribbon cutting at Lincoln Park Zoo  in Chicago. As part of the festivities, Colleen Callahan, an award-winning broadcast journalist who specializes in agriculture, served as emcee and introduced members of the Illinois Soybean Association  (ISA) and United Soybean Board  (USB).
Teaching Future Generations
Developed and funded by the ISA and USB, Soybeans: Growing Food, Growing World is the most extensive interactive soybean exhibit in the nation. Through special effects and multiple buttons/cranks, the exhibit offers children a unique opportunity to learn what soybeans look like, where they come from, how they’re produced and what various countries use them.
The exhibit includes everything “from farm to fork” to help children understand the importance of soy, not only in terms of its positive effects on our nation’s economy and nutrition, but also the ways in which soybeans affect other nations, as well.
“Children can move shapes, press buttons, turn cranks and watch as soybeans are planted, grown and harvested,” David Hartke, chairman of the ISA board, says. “Whether they are pressing buttons to see the stages of growth or turning the crank to make the combine work, they will be entertained and educated. For children who grow up in a city and may never see an actual farm, this exhibit offers the next best thing. In some ways, it’s even better because it illustrates so much about soybeans in one place.”
The exhibit also teaches future generations about the importance of soybeans, which ultimately helps soybean farmers.
“These children will walk away understanding the many ways soy is used and the ways in which it helps our economy,” Hartke continues. “Perhaps one of them may affect our world some day with what they learn from this exhibit.”
The Importance of Soy
Soybeans are used throughout the world in a variety of products and foods. In fact, there are many humanitarian groups that use soy as an affordable source of protein for undernourished populations and for those living with devastating diseases. Considered the “miracle crop” because it’s so versatile, soy can be used in everything from animal feed to biodiesel, printing inks and crayons, to cleaning supplies and human food.
About the Hosts
The statewide organization for Illinois soybean growers, ISA uses checkoff funds to support research, promotions and educational programs designed to increase demand for Illinois soybeans. Lincoln Park Zoo, a historic Chicago landmark founded in 1868, is dedicated to connecting people with nature by providing a free, family oriented wildlife experience. A leader in conservation science both globally and locally, the zoo exemplifies the highest quality animal care and educational outreach. The not-for-profit zoo, managed by The Lincoln Park Zoological Society, is a member-supported organization and one of the nation’s only free, privately managed zoos.