By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — Kyli Brown and Mark Cournoyer lead a committee on 10 adult and youth that will bring a wide range of activities to span the entire spectrum of youth interaction. The traditional Farm Technology Days youth tent has now become the Future Generations area, to accommodate youth from infancy to young adulthood.
“They all bring a different taste of what the future generations of Wood County looks like, and that is something that Mark and I, as co-chairs of this event, wanted to make sure we encompassed is programs for everybody from the littlest of youth all of the way up to looking for career choices as a young teenager,” said Kyli.
“We kind of split it up a little bit. I worked on coordinating some of the under 10 type of activities, and Mark is the FFA advisor at Auburndale (High School), and he has a real big hand in knowing what our older youth are looking for, as far as career choices. So, together, we collaborated really well on having a nice selection of activities, demonstrations, hands-on things that are going to meet the needs of all of our families in Central Wisconsin.”
“We are trying to make this for kids from toddlers through teens,” Mark added. “One activity in that kids life – they get involved with that and they really remember that – that could be the thing that really changes their thought pattern, their thought process, their career plan; thinking that they want to do this, but then they tried this at Farm Tech Days and it sent them down a different path.”
Mark said that taking care of the younger kids and their moms was something they also addressed. This included implementing a Mom Center, with a changing area and a Mom’s VIP area for privacy.
Time has gone quickly
“It seems like forever, but I think it was three summers ago that Kyli called and said, ‘Hey, you want to be co-chair for this Farm Tech Days thing?’ I thought this would be an awesome opportunity to engage the youth of our area and work with some really cool movers and shakers in our county – adult and youth – to make this thing happen,” Mark explained.
“As time clicks down, I was just looking at my phone the other day and I have a countdown picture of 548 days ago, and it seemed like yesterday. Now, we are one cutting of hay away.
“In the last six months, this has really come together. Getting to know the vendors and how the vendors are getting excited… they want to reach out to these kids.”
How the area is set up
Kyli said that much of the youth area is run by kids and through an adult-youth partnership.
The Future Generations area is broken down into four main areas: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programming, natural resources, agriculture, and healthy living. All vendors, hand-on activities, and performers fall under these areas.
“We are on the far eastern edge of the main drag – if you want to call it that,” Mark said. “We are about 200 feet from an entrance, where buses will be able to drop you off for day cares and any other school groups that want to come in. You can keep them in our area. We are a fenced off area, so it is easy to keep track of the kids and then, as well, exiting them as they leave. We’ve made accommodations for if they bring their own pack lunches and things like that in.”
Appearance of Vince Biegel
“Another exciting thing that is happening with the Future Generations area at Farm Tech Days is the appearance of Vince Biegel,” added Kyli. “A lot of our Wisconsinites know Vince Biegel as a Green Bay Packer, but maybe what you didn’t know was that he grew up in the south part of Wood County at his family’s cranberry marsh.
He will be attending Farm Technology Days in the Future Generations area on Thursday (July 12), from 9:30 a.m. until about 10:30-11, doing a little talk about how he grew up in Wood County and how farming and technology has affected him and his family’s cranberry marsh, as well as what it is like to be a Green Bay Packer. He will also sign some autographs and do a little tour within our area.”
The Wood County Youth Llama project
“During Farm Tech Days, we will have the llamas there every single day, the whole entire time,” said Youth Llama project and committee member, Michelle Kundinger. “People can take pictures with them, pet them, greet them, learn about them, and stuff like that.
“We are also going to have them make a wet-felted soap bar, where they can learn what we use llama fiber for.
“We will also have our llama poo tea. Our llama poo tea is for gardens. We will also be doing obstacle demonstrations with our llamas.”