If you’re blessed to be a parent to an amazing daughter (or, like me, four), you may know multiple ways to braid hair. And you’ve probably hosted your share of tea parties. You may paint a really mean manicure, especially on your daughter’s dominant hand. And you’re really good at listening (because she often has a lot to say).
But as the proud parent of an amazing young lady, you also need to make sure to take your daughter to a county fair.
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Raising four daughters over the last two decades, I’ve thought a lot about girls and STEM. We’ve enjoyed wonderful resources, like FIRST robotics and TechGirlz, that made sure my girls knew how awesomely fun Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) can be. One daughter runs a business; another has a successful blog and helps friends build websites; one’s on her way to becoming an amazing Mechanical Engineer; and one will someday be rescuing marine mammals, once she’s completed her Marine Biology studies. All have spent hundreds of hours teaching middle school girls to program robots, and they know how to write some cool code. So, yes, my girls know STEM.
But my daughters’ love of STEM started long before they even knew what robots were. Their love of STEM started with natural science, with observing caterpillars and daises in our backyard, with meeting goats at a petting zoo. And, of course, agricultural communities–epitomized beautifully at local county fairs–are seeped in natural science. My point? Take your daughter to a local county fair! But just in case you need some convincing…
12 reasons to take your daughter to the fair
1- She’ll feel like you took her on vacation, but unlike a day at Disney, a day at the fair won’t requiring auctioning off a kidney to afford it.
2- She’ll see a different kind of princess–one who wears dusty cowboy boots, works hard, and loves every minute of it. One who, instead of waiting to hitch a ride with prince charming, calms and rides her own monstrous steer. Your daughter will learn that while it’s never easy, doing something well that she loves to do, will put her head-and-shoulders (maybe even bovine-head-and-shoulders) above the rest.
3- She’ll learn that sometimes being in the right place–which for an agriculture-kind-of girl is in the barn–is not synonymous with keeping your nose clean. In fact, some of the best noses are often dirty.
4- She’ll see real life and learn that sometimes it stinks (quite literally).
5- But she’ll also learn that life can be sweet, thanks to God-given flavors, if we’re willing to do hard work (like Backyard Maple Syrup making…), tap into the sweetness (like we’ve learned to do on our New England farm…), and sometimes wait many seasons.
6- She’ll melt when a hairy boy with big ears flashes his deep-set, wide-spread eyes her way. Don’t worry, you won’t mind cause he’ll be a nice kid, or gentle guy who doesn’t give you any bull.
7- She’ll understand where real food comes from. And if she understands this as a young girl, she may grow into an amazing homesteader, full of compassionate animal husbandry skills that she shares with her generation, which has long since strayed from such things. This I know first-hand. My then-7-yr old met a calf named Honeypot who melted her little heart at the Fryeburg Fair in Maine many moons ago. (She’s pictured with Honeypot in the pinable image of this post, near the bottom.) She is now a teen who runs a business to pay for her cow, chicken, rabbit, duck, and farming expenses–you can read about it here. She is passionate about agriculture, homesteading, and responsible animal husbandry. And it all started in a little cow’s stall, at the fair. Read more about her in this CNN article.
8- She’ll see that good things are worth the hard work and the most beautiful accessories are not purchased at Kohls.
9- She’ll appreciate animals and understand they’re more than the sweet eyes and big ears that make her melt. She’ll understand that caring for them is a lifestyle. A hard, messy one that many people seem to love. Because there’s no “behind-the-scenes”at the fair. You see the tired caregivers who fell asleep on a hard barn floor, on top of a bale of hay. You smell the piles of manure that need to be dealt with daily. And you witness the sweet-tempered cow who follows her beloved girl. A view I now have every day, on our homestead.
10- She’ll see agile women–of all ages–winning competitions, earning ribbons, and carrying trophies. Not because they walk fashion runways or run long-distance. But because they help others–from animals who need their care, to people who need the food they raise.
11- She’ll witness the value of teamwork, from two young oxen learning to pull on a yoke, to beautiful draft horses doing amazing work side-by-side.
12- She’ll learn a new way to define and appreciate “adornment.” Not the latest fashions on supermodels, but worn leather gear on a beautiful team of drafts and the patina on an antique tractor that still does the job, after all these years.
So run, don’t walk, to your local fair with your daughter. She will be a better woman because you did. And there’s no better place, in my opinion, to spark a young lady’s interest in natural science, which may naturally lead her to more STEM involvement. There’s no doubt that this world needs more bright young women who are interested in all areas of STEM, including agriculture.
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As soon as you follow along on SoulyRested.com (by clicking “FollowThisBlog” in the right-hand column), I’ll send you a FREE 7-page, chock-full-of-information printable that will get you started on an unbelievably easy, unlimitedly rewarding journey of nature study with a child. The free printable even includes an ID page to help you learn more about mammals with a child–why not start with a favorite animal you see at the fair? And even the least science-oriented parent (or grandparent) ever can dive right in to nature study.
And love it.
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