Traveling along Interstate 43 between Milwaukee and Green Bay, Wis., you’re bound to see a vast agricultural landscape. Today it’s safe to assume that most people traveling this stretch of highway couldn’t tell you much about the farms outside their window, evidenced by the more than 98 percent of the population now having no direct connection to farming.
Luckily, now there is a stop at Exit 144 that’s all about telling the story of modern agriculture. Along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center provides an interactive experience for visitors to better understand the importance of agriculture and farming. The facility, which opens to the public July 28, hosted a special ribbon cutting event July 16 celebrating the public and private support that brought the Farm Wisconsin Discover Center to life.
Around 300 of the center’s key sponsors and allies spent the afternoon hearing from key contributors, including Land O’Lakes, Inc. and the state of Wisconsin, and getting a sneak preview of the interactive exhibits meant to bring agriculture to life. At the event, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker emphasized the importance of telling the story of agriculture every day to help people gain an understand where their food comes from while also attracting new talent to the industry.
“I’ll go to the state fair every year and it’s great to see agriculture for those few weeks. But those exhibits are temporary, the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center is permanent,” says Walker. “This place can help people see all the areas to get involved. Getting young people who are interested in farming connected to those opportunities.”
From the beginning, Land O’Lakes dairy and retail-owner members in the state have made it a priority to donate, get involved and get the word out on the importance of this center. Many of our cooperatives have leveraged member match programs as well, in which the Land O’Lakes Foundation matches contribution dollar-for-dollar. Then, in 2015, the Land O’Lakes Foundation took it a step further and contributed $1 million to the project, which supported the building and naming of the Land O'Lakes Birthing Barn, where visitors can watch calves being born.
“The company we know as Land O’ Lakes organized as a farmer owned cooperative nearly 100 years ago,” Land O’Lakes Board Chairman Pete Kappelman. “Our strength has its roots in our ability to come together to work towards a greater good – achieving success together that we could not, on our own. We are now teamed with Farm Wisconsin on a collaborative mission to innovate, educate and promote agriculture.”
Visitors will be able to spend the day seeing baby calves being born, climbing on-board a combine simulator and learning how food gets from the field to their table. Exhibits include:
- Educational displays and hands-on learning opportunities about Wisconsin farming and sustainability.
- An interactive globe that will showcase population density and highlight the importance feeding the world.
- An opportunity to tour Grotegut Farm, a progressive third-generation dairy farm focused on sustainability and farming best practices.
“We all play a role in agriculture’s future prosperity and to ensure a better tomorrow. We need to let scientists dream, and engineers imagine, how we will grow more with less,” Kappelman says. “We all need to engage in this conversation. Children and adults, experts and lawmakers, farmers and consumers. And that is why Land O’Lakes had to be here, to be a leader in this project.”
Learn more about the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center.