Editor of the Iowa Soybean Review

(Photo: Iowa Soybean Association / Joclyn Bushman)

Rural Route 2: Summer of fun

June 28, 2024 | Bethany Baratta

There were tears in my son’s eyes as we talked about the end of the school year. He didn’t want to leave his first grade classroom, his group of friends, or his incredible teacher. But a summer of fun awaited. There were pool dates to keep, soccer balls to kick, bedtime curfews to delay, and lightning bugs to catch. There were strawberries to pick, Iowa State Fair corndogs to devour, and new parks to discover. His eyes are on the grand prize awaiting the winner of the library’s summer reading program.

In addition to ice cream treats, water play and trips to the zoo, we’re also diving into a new workbook to keep his brain busy. We try to prevent the “summer slide” or the tendency for kids to forget the skills they learned in school while out for summer break. (We’re also avoiding the summer slides — the metal slides we played on during summers growing up that burned our bottoms.) It’s a delicate balance of letting him be a kid and enjoy his summer and not wanting him to fall behind academically.

A workbook may be sufficient for math and writing, but this summer’s studies also include lessons about agriculture, specifically soy. These are lessons that are more hands on. Thanks to my network of farmers and industry experts, I learn more every day about soy. Throughout these 90 days of summer, our son will discover the role soy plays in feeding pigs that provide the bacon on his favorite burger. He’ll learn there is soy in the tires that transport him to summer activities and adventures. He’ll delight in learning that soy is used in the crayons he likes to use for drawing, coloring and playing Tic-Tac-Toe. And he’ll learn that soybeans, like those we see growing in fields near our home, are a global treasure. They’re not just plants in a field, they are pods of potential — for feed, for fuel, for food and for fiber.

As his sun-kissed body heads back into the classroom next month, I hope he not only packs his new crayons and glue sticks, but also a greater appreciation for the world — and the soy — around him.

P.S. It’s election month! This month, you’ll receive a ballot in the mail to vote in the ISA Board of Directors election. Follow the instructions on the mailer and make your voice heard in the election.