News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 29, 2013

Children learn about Indiana’s forgotten food

‘Soybean Sunday’ teaches guests crop’s benefits

Dianne Frances D. Powell
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Sitting in a chair by one of the displays at the Terre Haute Children’s Museum, birthday girl Grace Owens enthusiastically described one of the projects she worked on Sunday afternoon.

“I made the sun all by myself, and I put real beans down there, and I wrote my name in the grass,” said Grace, who will turn 6 on Tuesday.

Using colors, beans and other materials, Grace and her younger sister,  Ciara Tompkins, created a craft project that described the soybean plant life cycle, one of the things they learned from the program, “Soybean Sunday.”

Soybeans are such an “important crop in Indiana,” said Terre Haute Children’s Museum executive director Lynn Hughes, and yet many people do not know much about them — unlike another Indiana crop, corn.

“Soybean is kind of a forgotten food,” Hughes said.

“One Sunday a month, we offer Soybean Sunday to teach guests about a wide range of soy-focused topics including biodiesel, products made with soybeans, soy science and the health benefits of soy,” Hughes said.

 And guests like Grace are learning a lot.

“You water them every day,” said Grace when asked what else she learned from the program, co-sponsored by the museum and Indiana Soybean Alliance.

Grace, Ciara and their mother, Carol Owens, visited the museum Sunday as a birthday treat to Grace. The children also got to spend some time with their grandmother from out of town.

Sitting beside Grace was 4-year-old Ciara, who pointed to the color blue on a picture (of a soybean) she was coloring and said, “This is my favorite color.”

Ciara also learned from the two-hour session on Sunday about how to make a soybean necklace that describes the process of growing a soybean stalk.

With a smile on her face, she shared that after watering the seed and putting it under the sun, “they grow.”

Children got the chance to learn from other exhibits in the museum, including “Agciting: Follow Your Food,” which teaches guests about agriculture and farming. The exhibit also has soybean-related displays.

“It’s a different learning experience from going to school,” Owens said of her children coming to Soybean Sunday.

This is the family’s third time attending the monthly event at the museum.

The sisters were only two of the 15 children that volunteer Lillian Hayhurst taught about soybeans Sunday.

The Ivy Tech student majoring in agriculture said she has been involved with the program since it started two years ago. But the event is open to all who visit the museum.

“It’s a good family activity,” said Hayhurst, a Terre Haute resident.

She said she just wanted to share her knowledge from growing up in a farm and from school.

“A lot of people don’t realize the various uses of soybeans,” Hayhurst said.

For example, soybeans are used in crayons, wax, shampoos, soaps, baby food, hot dogs, noodles and cooking oils. Hayhurst mentioned that people who are lactose intolerant most often use soy milk.

Her goal is to “educate the public” about  the versatile virtues of soybeans and to “let people know what they’re buying.”

“The community has given me a lot so I want to give back to it,” she said.

And she loves working with the kids.

“I love seeing the kids smile,” she said.

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or