Every Spring, Three Sisters Park offers 5th through 7th grade students a hands-on opportunity to learn about the agricultural history of Central Illinois. This is done through the use of interactive demonstrations in the areas of soil preparation, seed selection, and corn planting using 1918 techniques and horse-drawn equipment.
Six educational stations are set up to teach how our forefathers went about the planting process. Students are encouraged to actively take part in each area to get a better understanding of the efforts and methods used at the turn of the century. Below is a brief description of what awaits attendees at each station:
Draft horses are used to show how the land was plowed and prepared for the planting. Students are given the opportunity to try their hand at plowing and driving the horses. They are also be given the chance to try to pull the plow themselves with a tow rope to demonstrate the power of the draft horses.
Corn planting techniques are demonstrated using horses, check wire, stakes, and a planter. Students help load the seed corn into the antique planter and help move the check wire. They also plant corn using manual seed planters.
Before learning to pick corn by hand, students learn how to quickly identify a good seed ear. As they pick the corn,
they will throw promising seed ears into a small seed box and toss the other ears in a moving horse-drawn wagon.
Station #4 - 5:
In the Park's Pavilion, visitors learn about seed preparation in the early 1900's. They select and shell the seed corn using various types of old shellers. They then prepare germination tests which can be completed at home or at school. They also learn to read germination tests already in progress. The difference between open-pollinated hybrid seeds are be explained.
Visitors learn about draft horses and their importance on early Illinois farms. They see how live draft horse teams were harnessed and learn about how farmers treated them with great care. Classes even compete in a horse harnessing relay race, using life-size “dummy” horses!