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Educating children about ag through books

Educating children about ag through books

An Iowa farmer has authored nine books about different types of farms

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A U.S. farmer is doing her part to inform children about how modern farms operate.

Katie Olthoff, a turkey producer from near Stanhope, Iowa, recently published “My Family’s Soybean Farm.”

The story follows a young boy named Alexander on his family’s soybean farm.

He takes readers on a tour of the farm, discussing how soybeans are produced for livestock feed, industrial applications and human food. He also discuss technology found on modern farms.

My Family's Soybean Farm

The soybean farm story is the ninth children’s book Olthoff has written.

Her other works, written for a third-grade audience, include stories about life on dairy, egg, turkey, beef, corn, pig and apple farms. She even wrote a children’s book about wind farms.

Olthoff, a former teacher, began writing these books after having a conversation with her pre-school-aged son.

Katie Olthoff

“He wanted to know why our farm didn’t look like the farms he saw in his books or in cartoons,” she told “My children have brought home books from school that were very derogatory towards farmers that were part of their curriculum in rural Iowa.”

Olthoff doesn’t shy away from any part of a modern farm operation.

Some school materials may not mention that livestock and poultry are processed for food.

But her books do include that step because it’s a part of farming and it’s important to be honest about agriculture, she said.

“Transparency in food production is really important right now,” she said. “Younger consumers are looking for the story about how their food is produced and we, the farmers, are there to provide the story starting at a young age.”

The books also include small details that can be important in the big picture.

In the soybean book, for example, the illustrator drew the farm mom operating the combine.

“That’s not typically how (farm moms) are portrayed in children’s literature, so it was great to see that,” Olthoff said. “I know plenty of farm moms who are out there running the combine at harvest time.”

Engaging young minds about food production now is important.

These children will grow up to be consumers, so providing them with the right information will help them make better decisions as adults, Olthoff said.

The soybean book is available through Feeding Minds Press, the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s printing press.

The other eight books can be purchased through the Iowa Ag Literacy Foundation and other online retailers.

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