Ag Progress Days brings together clean fuel, good clean fun

University Park, Pa. -- Pennsylvania's attention is captivated by the serious business of fluctuating fuel prices, the future of the environment and economic independence. But the Commonwealth needs a little fun, too. So this year, Penn State's Ag Progress Days, set for Aug 19-21, will offer information on the issues that matter even as it provides a wide range of fun and educational activities sure to appeal to children and families.

The theme for the 2008 edition, to be held at the University's Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, is "Ag Energy: Harnessing the Potential," and the College of Agricultural Sciences Exhibits Building will feature special displays focusing on renewable energy and biofuels research. "The need for energy independence and clean, renewable and affordable fuels is only becoming more critical," said Bob Oberheim, Ag Progress Days manager. "Visitors will be able to see how Penn State research and extension are helping to shape our energy future."

In what may be a first in the nation, the exhibit building will feature two new tractors powered by pure vegetable oil, operated in a long-term research project by the College of Agricultural Sciences. In addition, faculty and staff will be on hand to answer questions about ongoing research and provide information about the college’s undergraduate programs. The college’s Ag Publications Distribution Center will offer a free Energy Selector Guide along with other free and for-sale publications on topics ranging from agriculture and natural resources to community affairs and lawn care.

This year's expo will introduce several new items:

--The Natural Gas Impact Area. Visitors can learn about the impacts of the deep-well natural-gas boom in Pennsylvania and have their questions answered about the legal, social, economic and environmental issues associated with gas exploration and production. Located in the Ag Renewable Energy Tent, the Natural Gas Impact Area will house faculty and extension educators who will offer expert advice about leasing property for natural gas exploration, and other natural-gas-related issues.

--Myth Busters: Animal Agriculture. Anyone interested in animals will enjoy this take on a popular cable TV series that investigates and analyzes widely believed agricultural misconceptions and scientifically shows why they are false.

--Theatre Presentations. Visitors to the College Exhibits Building Theatre will see presentations on ag energy by leading extension specialists in the field. New presentations this year include "Diesel Fuel from Fields to Wheels," "Natural Gas Leasing: What You Need to Know," "Potential of Wind and Solar Energy" and "Energy Efficiency on the Farm."

--Equine Experience. New this year in the Large Horse Arena are horse-training demonstrations with 2008 Mustang Challenge winner Suzanne Myers. Once again, youngsters and adults can come to the Small Horse Arena on Wednesday and saddle up to ride a pony provided by K&B Stables. Also planned are demonstrations by professional horsemen, breed clinics, mule-packing demonstrations, and Diamond Lane Farms' Black Percheron Hitch.

--Crops, Soils, and Conservation Tent. The Natural Resources Conservation Partnership and Penn State's Department of Crop and Soil Sciences will co-sponsor a new, unified Crops, Soils and Conservation Area, which will incorporate exhibits and specialists from USDA's Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and other agencies.

Popular features returning to Ag Progress Days include:

--PA Preferred Best Chef of Pennsylvania Regional Competition. Modeled after the Food Network's "Iron Chef" competition, the event will pit eight local chefs going whisk-to-whisk with ingredients reflecting the Pennsylvania-produced foods found on contemporary restaurant tables. The winner will represent the region in the state finals in January. Back to defend his regional crown will be Harrison Schailey, owner of Harrison's Wine Grill & Catering in State College.

--Research and Conservation Tours. Free bus and walking tours of the 1,500-acre Larson Research Center will provide insights on the future of food production and natural resources in the Keystone State, addressing field- and vegetable-crop production, insect and disease management, crops for biofuels, honey-bee research, soil conservation, water quality and forest stewardship.

--Food Demonstrations. In the Family Room, cooking demonstrations with helpful hints for preparing nutritious and tasty meals are held throughout the day with a theme of "Healthy Family Recipes -- Fast and Flavorful." Interactive exhibits cover such topics as nutrition and food safety, eating smart and moving more, food allergies, family finances, youth development and family togetherness.

--Children's and family activities. The 4-H Youth Building will feature a 3-D community planning area where kids can place child-sized model towns and villages to create an environmentally friendly landscape that protects natural resources and shows the importance of proper planning. At the Kid's Climb, children can safely climb a tree like a professional arborist with ropes and harnesses. Families can get "lost" in a corn maze while learning about Pennsylvania agriculture. Shavers' Creek Environmental Center will offer demonstrations with live wildlife.

--Machinery and equipment demonstrations. Producers can see state-of-the-art machinery in action and shop for dairy equipment, animal housing, feed, seed, fertilizer and other suppliers. They also can talk to representatives of lenders, insurance firms, crop consultants and other business services.

--Farm safety demonstrations. With an all-terrain vehicle accident and safe-operation demonstration, free health screenings and on-site agricultural emergency specialists, visitors can learn to stay safe and healthy on the farm.

--Pasto Agricultural Museum. Rare and antique farm and home tools and implements are on display at this "please-touch" museum of rural life. A silent auction benefitting the museum endowment will offer more than 400 lots of antique tools, furniture, photographs, Penn State Football tickets, antique milk bottles and other memorabilia.

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 state Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 19; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 20; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 21. Admission and parking are free. For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days Web site at http://apd.psu.edu.
 

EDITORS: Contact Bob Oberheim at (814) 692-5262, or by e-mail at rlo1@psu.edu.

Writer-Editor:
Gary Abdullah office 814-863-2708
e-mail gxa2@psu.edu
 

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Last Updated November 18, 2010