INDIANAPOLIS — Progress on the Glass Barn, an educational
building funded by the Indiana Soybean Alliance, is continuing as it nears the
last stages of construction at the Indiana State Fair.
The barn will open to the public and serve as a new
attraction at the fair this summer. It will feature interactive exhibits, games
and technology in order to show how a modern farm in Indiana is operated.
“We’re in the building phase now, and construction is
scheduled to wrap up here in the next few weeks,” said Megan Kuhn, ISA
“The goal is that early May construction will be done, so we
have a full month to put up all the inside exhibits. We want to have the
building ready to go by June, so we can test exhibits and train volunteers to be
ready for the Aug. 2 state fair kickoff.”
The barn will encourage visitors to think about where their
food originates in a fun, hands-on environment.
“We really want to be able to tell the story of the Indiana
farm family and their role in producing the food that other Hoosiers eat,” Kuhn
“We’re very interested in focusing the story around a
soybean farmer, a hog farmer and a dairy farmer. We’ll show their farms, what
they raise and how they raise it.”
A variety of technological platforms will be used to connect
fairgoers with farmers, including Face Time, iPads and a green screen that
allows visitors to choose what type of farm background to have behind them as a
picture is taken. In the spirit of technology, the pictures will be uploaded
digitally where they can be emailed and put on social media sites.
“Farmers use smartphones and GPS just like we do,” the
spokeswoman said. “We want to tie that into the message, so people know they use
technology on the farms like we do in everyday lives.”
Kuhn also said that the space will be utilized to talk about
other important topics such as biotechnology and precision agriculture. Plans
are being made for the Glass Barn beyond fair season, as well.
“The 17 days of the fair are very important, but we are
working with the fair to use the buildings and exhibits to extend reach to
younger audiences and even older kids,” Kuhn said. “We want to build curriculum
and bring diverse groups of students to the fairgrounds all year round.”
Justin Armstrong, director of advancement at the fair, said
that educational programs have progressed to a point where it no longer is just
outreach, but inviting others on site to use the fairgrounds’ resources for
“The objective is to engage youth in science, engineering,
technology and math education using agriculture as a unifying concept,” he said.
“The Glass Barn is a place where contemporary agriculture
can be explained. Myths can be busted. I think we can provide people with an
opportunity to understand how their food, fiber, fuel resources are being
produced on Indiana farms.”
Armstrong said that the barn’s architecture was designed
purposefully to represent agriculture today.
“You see a building that’s made largely of glass on the
exterior,” he said. “Agriculture is transparent. There are no big secrets. We
have a gabled frontage that is reminiscent of old barns because we believe and
honor our past in the industry. In fact, we’ve built on it to be where we
The computers, technology and analytical tools inside the
barn are there to show how farmers make decisions now, Armstrong said. And
having the conversation about agriculture take place in a high-tech,
contemporary building is fitting to today’s agricultural scene.
The Glass Barn has no admission cost and will be
air-conditioned. For more information visit www.indianasoybean.com.