Kids Will Find Fun at Penn State’s Ag Progress Days

UNIVERSITY PARK – Adults visiting Penn State’s Ag Progress Days, to be held Aug. 18 – 20 in Rock Springs, will find acre after acre of exhibits, demonstrations and displays at the state’s largest outdoor agricultural exposition. They will be relieved to know that their children will also encounter fun and fascination as they discover the youthful side of agricultural literacy.

The Family Room building, located on Main Street between West 8th and 9th streets at the exposition site, offers several displays dedicated to promoting healthy eating, healthy lifestyles and spending time together as families. Nearby, the 4-H Youth Building will feature kid-friendly booths that promote hands-on learning.

The 4-H Youth Building booths, sponsored by 4-H, FFA, Pennsylvania Dairy Princess and several academic departments in the College of Agricultural Sciences, will have activities for kids, who can earn prizes by visiting each booth and completing exercises related to agriculture.


“Our goal is to provide an educational experience for children that is science-based and fun, too,” said Sanford Smith, natural resources youth extension specialist, who is coordinating activities for the building. “With activities addressing insects, food and nutrition, international agriculture, land-use planning, plant pathology and egg embryology, we are showcasing some of the best our college and educational efforts have to offer.”


“The building will feature a central exhibit on insects and entomology science,” Smith said, “and 4-H youth from several counties will be there to educate visitors about insects and their life cycles.”


Adjacent to the 4-H Youth Building, the Family Room building focuses on “strengthening families through practical information about family life,” said Patreese Ingram, professor of agricultural and extension education.


“The Family Room is designed to introduce families to the wonderful educational programming that Penn State Cooperative Extension offers to parents and children,” Ingram said. “These programs provide information on healthy nutrition, cooking tips, financial planning, integrated pest management and inter-generational programs.”


Family Room exhibits will include:


— “Get Out and Play: Explore Nature, Exercise for Good Health, and Be Safe,” presented by the Better Kid Care childcare training program;

— “Pesticide Education,” with a mini-golf activity;

— “Money Is a Tool: Are You Maximizing Its Use?,” which will alert visitors to simple things they can do to better manage their money;

— “The Hurdle Effect: Barriers to Keep Your Food Safe,” an interactive display that provides information about control measures used to ensure food safety;

— “Dining with Diabetes,” a new program from the Diabetes Education Program that will help visitors assess their risks for diabetes;

— “Let’s Have Fun: From Me to We,” an inter-generational game designed to help family members of different generations discover activities they can do together.


“The food demonstrations have been some of the most popular features in the Family Room for the past 10 years,” Ingram said. “Visitors will receive free cooking tips on preparing healthy family meals revolving around the theme of ‘Garden to Table: A Family Affair.'”

Outside the Family Room building, the Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center exhibit returns this year with daily talks and demonstrations featuring live turtles, snakes, amphibians and birds of prey.


Other family-oriented activities at Ag Progress Days will include:


— The Kid’s Climb: Near the Equine Exhibits Building, kids can climb 40-foot-tall trees just like professional arborists, with ropes and harnesses for maximum safety.

— A-Maze-N-Corn: Adjacent to the Crops, Soils and Conservation tent, a 1-acre corn maze will provide a huge green-and-growing puzzle for entire families to wander through, with wheelchair and stroller access.

— Pedal Go-Kart Derby: Daily on Main Street near the Family Room, kids supply the power that sends these go-karts whizzing around a serpentine track. Bring your children for some fun and exercise.

— The Farm Safety and Health Quiz Bowl: On Wednesday on West 9th Street near the College Exhibits Building and theatre, 4-H and FFA teams will battle head-to-head, 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.


Penn State‘s 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. 18; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 19; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 20. Admission and parking are free.

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