Farm Talk

Ag News from Around the Country

August 20, 2013

Smithsonian museum seeks farmers’ stories

Parsons, Kansas — No one knows how much agriculture has evolved and transformed over time better than America’s farmers. That’s why the Smithsonian National Museum of American History is seeking farmers’ help in telling stories of the innovation and experiences of farming and ranching across the United States.

Farmers are invited to share their personal stories about the ways innovation and technology have helped to continually improve the industry at www.american history.si.edu. The museum is currently seeking stories, photographs and other memorabilia to feature in its upcoming “American Enterprise” exhibition, which will paint the picture of American business through agriculture, consumer finance, information technology /communication, manufacturing and retail/service.

“Agriculture continually evolves and has become extremely efficient and sustainable with the help of new technologies,” says Sharon Covert, a farmer-leader on the United Soybean Board (USB), which recently committed a $1 million investment in support of the exhibition. “Sharing your stories and artifacts of agriculture’s transformations will allow the public to see incredible strides the industry has made in order to provide food, feed, fuel and fiber for the rest of the world.”

Submitted stories could be included in the exhibition or featured on the museum’s blog and social media sites. A few suggested themes include personal experiences, the effects of technology, or the roles of finance, competition, safety, animals, water or labor.

Scheduled to open in May 2015, this multimedia “American Enterprise” will capture the nation’s history of business spanning the mid-1700s to the present, highlighting agriculture and its many contributions to our economy.

“Growing up in the 1950s, I remember ‘walking the beans’ to remove weeds from the fields with a long-handled hoe,” says Covert in her story submission. “Now, we can spray that same field to remove the weeds and our soybeans are strong and vigorous.”

The development of American agriculture will be demonstrated through objects such as road signs related to no-till production and organic farming, a 1920s Fordson tractor and a computer cow tag and reader unit to show the change in dairy farming from an intensive hand-labor process to a modern computer-run operation.

The National Museum of American History is currently renovating its West Exhibition Wing with new galleries on American business, democracy and culture; an education center; new spaces for the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation; public plazas; a Hall of Music for live performances; and the addition of a first-floor window wall with views to the Washington Monument. For more information, visit http:// americanhistory.si.edu. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. For Smithsonian information, the public may call 202-633-1000. £

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