Stockyards Ag Experience Barn continues to promote agriculture during the pandemic

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Stockyards Ag Experience has kept its doors opened to visitors.

Not only has the museum adopted stricter cleaning, face masks and social distancing protocols, but they have added additional services to help educate kids on the farm-to-table concept, said Abby Bischoff, Executive Director of the Stockyards Ag Experience.

They have launched a club for kids where they can receive a monthly box of ag related activities, so even if they are not able to come into the museum right now, they are still able to learn about agriculture.

During the first month, they had 20 boxes available for the club. Now they have about 50 families who have signed up. They are still working on modifying how the club looks to meet consumer needs, Bischoff said.

The stockyards museum has also started hosting private playtime, where families are able to rent the museum for an hour and get to come and experience the museum without having to worry about coming in contact with others. These hours are available on days that the museum is not normally opened to the public.

“It has been really nice to see people just relaxed. I think a lot of people have anxiety about doing things and being out-and-about and making sure that their families can be safe,” Bischoff said. “My office is right above the central part of where kids would kind of play and explore in our modern farm to table exhibit. I love hearing kind of that relaxed laughter and enjoyment from the families.”

Bischoff said it is really rewarding to know that people are able to come enjoy and learn and play and forget the stresses that exist for just an hour.

The museum is also working on launching a new exhibit this summer that will introduce visitors to people who work along the food chain.

“The pandemic highlighted that there is confusion about how the links of the food chain connect, Bischoff said. “Our goal is to show the faces of folks, from farmers and ranchers to production line employees and grocery and restaurant workers. Everyone along that chain plays an important role and what better way to illustrate how we are all connected than through their stories.”

The stockyards museum is a opportunity for people to learn about agriculture, those traditions and the industry that helped shape the community into what it is today, Bischoff said.

“When you look back at the history of Sioux Falls, the first paved road in the county and the first bridge in the county, they were build because of the stockyards, to bring livestock down to the stockyards,” Bischoff said. “I think understanding that history is really important and appreciating that history too, the roots.”

The stockyards has been planning to build an outdoor learning plaza on the land where the Sioux Falls Stockyards used to be located. However, due to weather and the pandemic, the construction start time has been put on hold.

The park is going to be a continuation of their modern farm to table exhibit. There are no exact plans, but they have been looking at including a little farmhouse, some buildings that will represent commodity buildings, a large barn, as well as have some crops planted on site. They will be also be able to bring in livestock occasionally.

Bischoff said there are no exact times for when construction will begin, but they will start talking about it again after the winter months.

“We know the community is ready. We had a ton of support from the business community from our Chamber appeals process that we went through back in 2018, and we know that those supporters are ready to see a park and we are too,” Bischoff said.

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