The Ohio Soy Sustainable Summer is in full swing as OBIC student assistants, Brad Collins and Shivani Patel, visited the Paulding County Fair recently. Pulling into the Paulding County fairgrounds, we were greeted by Sarah Noggle, an OSU Extension Educator. She was extremely enthusiastic about our program and helped us feel as if we were at home in Paulding County. We set up the Sustainable World Tour (SWT) van outside of Acres of Fun – an indoor entertainment area filled with fun and educational booths for people to check out at their leisure.
With the eye-catching SWT van set up outside of Acres of Fun, we received a steady flow of traffic throughout our time at the fair. We were able to talk with a wide variety of people from children and high school students to adult consumers and agricultural producers. While we had a large range in our audience, our core message remained the same: We want to help consumers feel good about the products they use, the companies they support, and the environment they leave behind. In talking with young kids, we explained the numerous ways people can utilize the corn and soybeans their parents or neighbors produce locally to create products they use every day. They were especially interested in competing against each other in our biobased Jeopardy game, and were fascinated by the many uses of Ohio’s crops, such as soybeans. With the older students, we explained what the bioeconomy means to them, their potential future role, and what the future could look like if the Department of Energy’s billion-ton goal is achieved.
A few moments stuck out during our time at the Paulding County Fair. As we were driving into Paulding County, we watched as the magnificent turbine blades from the wind farm spun around, almost as if to greet us; we knew that our message of sustainability would be well received. Shortly after we began, the Ohio Soy Sustainable Summer was featured in a Facebook live video that showcased the fair’s activities for the day. Then, we were interviewed by Unger Broadcasting, and had a great conversation about our summer program and the support we’ve gotten from the Ohio Soybean Council.
Overall, our first county fair experience was a success! We were able to talk to many consumers about bioproducts, why they are important, and how they can contribute to a circular economy. Speaking with consumers one-on-one has been a key part of OBIC’s mission as we have found that only 8% of consumers are able to identify a specific biobased product.
This article was written by Bradley Collins, OBIC Student Assistant and Senior at The Ohio State University.