VIDEO: Interview with Matt Eddy of the Iowa State Fair’s Animal Learning Center


In February, I wrote a post asking about places and things I should see as I get to know the Midwest. One of the people who took time to give me his ideas was Matt Eddy aka Twitter’s @aged4me. Matt had simple suggestions for me as I asked my questions:

Where are you or where do you think I should go? Some of the unique sights or experiences nearby? Iowa State Fair — more specifically our FFA chapter hosts the Animal Learning Center. Baby farm animals being born daily.

When do you think a trip is best? Aug 9-19th – special VIP tour of Learning Center. You could be lucky enough to deliver pigs/calves/sheep/goats?!?

So, as I headed to Des Moines, I gave Matt a shout and he said he was still up for it and he agreed. We traded phone numbers and agreed I’d be in touch when I got on-site so we could figure out what the day looked like. I may have been naive, but I really didn’t do any additional research. A lot of friends kept reinforcing the idea that the Animal Learning Center was a must see.

students from Southeast Polk FFA at the Iowa State Fair

VIP Tour of the Fair!

So…. When I got into the fairgrounds, I called Matt and he said to come on by cause he had a bit of time. I got there and called again, realizing I had no idea who I was looking for in a crowded building that’s probably as big as a football field. He said he was on the other end of the building in purple scrubs. I walked down there and he said he needed to go pick up some students so we could hop on the cart for a tour along the way. Once we got to the opposite side of the fair from where we started, the students came out with a kid (baby goat) wrapped in a blanket.

a mama sheep with her new baby lambsBack at the Learning Center, Matt continued with the “VIP tour” by showing me the pens for the cows, goats, sheep and pigs. And I got to go in the area where the caretakers do so I was seeing everything incredibly close up!

There were a couple of cows that had calved the day before, a sheep that had given birth not long before I arrived and the mom was still trying to clean the new ones up & get them fed and moving. It was awesome to have someone who works with the fair throughout the two weeks of it, but as Matt told me more about the center, I realized Twitter & my blog had given me a priceless view of things! (And I later heard he was recognized for leading the state’s outstanding middle/secondary school ag education program.)

FFA Staff the Learning Center

I noticed that Matt wasn’t the only one in the purple scrub shirt. There were a few more folks walking around in those and high school students in a deep red or maroon color. He explained that his students and supervisors who are past students, etc not only man the facility throughout the fair, but students are responsible for the car of the livestock throughout the year. He says a lot of the students aren’t from a farm background — Southeast Polk is in Des Moines so families there have a broad range of occupations. Since many students are interested in animals and veterinary science, etc.

Matt talked with me for a while about the FFA program and how they have come to work so closely with the Iowa State Fair organization. You’ll want to listen to what he’s got going on:

More Photos of the Animal Learning Center

It was a great time had by all! lots to see close up too!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Please Support Ag Education

You can learn more about agriculture education programs in high schools around the country through the Teach Ag site and you can read about the programs Matt has at Southeast Polk are far too rare. You can also learn more about the program through the Southeast Polk FFA Facebook page.


Enhanced by Zemanta

About Janice Person

I'm Janice & this blog is about my passions -- photography, travel, agriculture & whatever else comes to mind. Putting all those things together is intriguing to me…. I can spend a lot of time soaking it up! It's almost always a colorful adventure!

, , , , , , , ,

5 Responses to VIDEO: Interview with Matt Eddy of the Iowa State Fair’s Animal Learning Center

  1. Katlyn Rumbold September 10, 2012 at 11:18 am #

    Sounds like you had a great time at the fair! This brought back many fond memories of when I was in FFA:)

    • Janice Person September 10, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

      I didn’t grow up around FFA so I am still learning some of the neat things it does… that is an incredible experience for kids at Southeast Polk!


  1. Lots of Fun at the Nebraska State Fair on a Roadtrip (Video/Photos) - October 26, 2013

    […] students to talk about what is happening and answer any questions the public has. It is a lot like the animal learning center I saw at the Iowa State Fair in some of the activities & outcomes but it’s not nearly as […]

  2. Have you heard it's National FFA Week? - a colorful adventure - February 18, 2014

    […] National FFA is a youth leadership program that aligns with agricultural education in schools throughout the U.S and several foreign countries. I didn’t grow up in a world where the highly recognizable blue corduroy jackets were commonplace, but I sure landed in an industry where I have come to appreciate the work behind them. I’ve had the chance to see the impact of a chapter in Iowa first hand as Matt Eddy showed me what his students learned by managing the animal learning center at the Iowa State Fair. […]

  3. Thankful for the Potential Our Youth Offer! - a colorful adventure - September 27, 2014

    […] first “real” FFA experience was getting to know Matt Eddy and students with the Southeast Polk chapter through the Iowa State Fair. Talk about incredible kids! Wow! These kids were caring for animals, […]

What are you thinking?