By Gary Abdullah and Chuck Gill, Penn State
UNIVERSITY PARK – Agriculture is serious business in Pennsylvania, but young people attending Penn State’s Ag Progress Days, set for Aug. 16-18 at Rock Springs, can discover that farming also has a fun side.
As one of the nation’s leading agricultural expositions, the event can be an action-packed place for kids. Young people can take part in interactive, science-based exhibits and other activities that combine education and enjoyment.
“Our young visitors will get to learn by doing,” said Mya Rushton, 4-H project development specialist in the College of Agricultural Sciences and coordinator for the Ag Progress Days 4-H Youth Building. “The exhibits will get youth up and moving with a variety of activities designed for hands-on learning, so youth can take the skills learned and apply them in their homes, schools and communities.”
The 4-H Youth Building displays, sponsored by such groups as 4-H, FFA, Pennsylvania Dairy Princess Promotions Services Inc. and several academic departments in the College of Agricultural Sciences, will offer several kid-friendly activities.
Young visitors can look at diseased plants under microscopes, learn about embryology and watch chicks hatch, pet rabbits and learn about spinning their wool, participate in nutrition and fitness activities, check out the world of insects, and pedal go carts around an outdoor track for fun and exercise.
Nearby, the Family Room Building, located on Main Street between West Eighth and West Ninth streets at the Ag Progress Days site, offers several displays dedicated to promoting healthy eating, healthy lifestyles and spending time together as families.
Adjacent to the Family Room building, the Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center exhibit returns this year with opportunities to see live turtles, snakes, amphibians and birds of prey, presented during daily talks and demonstrations.
Other youth and family-oriented activities at Ag Progress Days:
— 4-H Seeing-Eye Puppy Club. Visitors can talk with young people involved in a special 4-H program that socializes puppies being raised to become service dogs and teaches them to be with people. Children can pet and interact with the puppies on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. in the Equine Arena.
— The Kid’s Climb. Near the Equine Exhibits Building, kids can use ropes and harnesses to safely climb 40-foot-tall trees just like professional arborists. Climbs are available Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
— A-Maze-N-Corn. Flanking the Crops, Soils and Conservation Tent, a stroll through a one-acre corn maze will provide environmental infotainment for entire families. The maze is wheelchair and stroller accessible.
— The Farm Safety and Health Quiz Bowl. On Wednesday on West Ninth Street near the College Exhibits Building and Theatre, teams of 4-H and FFA teens will engage in a head-to-head battle of wits, answering farm-safety and health questions in this semifinal quiz bowl event. Winning teams will advance to the state finals at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in January.
— The Pennsylvania Equine Council’s Learning Station will allow visitors to groom a horse, visit with council members and learn what issues are at the forefront of Pennsylvania’s equine industry.
– -At the 4-H Horse Demonstration, representatives will show the equine skills that young people can develop through Pennsylvania 4-H programs.
— Very young children will enjoy the “Stick Horse Show” (sponsored by the Pennsylvania Equine Council), when they’ll get an opportunity to ride stick horse toys and win ribbons in jumps, barrel racing and other “horsemanship” games.
— At the Destiny Horse Ranch miniature-horse demonstration, kids can see the diminutive animals up close.
Sponsored by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, nine miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 16; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 17; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 18.
Admission and parking are free. Free shuttle bus service between the Ag Progress Days site and downtown State College will be available.
For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website at http://apd.psu.edu. Twitter users can find and share information about the event by using the hashtag #agprogress.
For more information, contact Mya Rushton at 814-865-2351, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.