Great Insect Fair headlines Ag Progress Days youth activities

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Families and youths accustomed to attending Penn State's Great Insect Fair each fall will need to adjust their schedules. For this year at least, the popular annual event will leave the Bryce Jordan Center and instead will be part of the 2015 Ag Progress Days expo, Aug. 18-20.

"With five straight home football games on tap in September and October, the schedule for Saturdays on campus wasn't conducive to holding the event at the Jordan Center this year," said Steven Jacobs, senior extension associate in entomology and the fair's lead organizer. "Although this will be a change for many, a positive aspect is that we'll have three days when we can focus on different aspects of the insect world."

Located in the Entomology Tent beside the 4-H Youth Building on West Eighth Street at the Ag Progress Days site, the fair will feature a different theme each day:

Tuesday, Aug. 18: Bugs that Cause Diseases -- Some insects and their relatives can transmit diseases. Meet researchers from Penn State who are studying these bugs and other vectors and learn how you can protect yourself, your family, your pets and other animals.

Wednesday, Aug. 19: Insect Pollinators -- Pollinators are vital to food production around the world. At the pollination station you can meet some of these important pollinators, observe them in a natural setting and learn what it's like to be a beekeeper.

Thursday, Aug. 20: Insect Friends and Foes of Agriculture -- Learn about the variety of roles insects play in agricultural and natural systems. Entomologists will have beneficial and pest insects from agricultural systems, information on invasive species, and native and wild bees.

The fair will offer other activities designed to be fun and interactive, such as butterfly tents, an insect zoo and "The Bug Doctor Is In" (get answers to your insect questions).

Complementing the Insect Fair next door, the 4-H Youth Building also will host insects displayed by the well-known "Bugman," Ryan Bridge. Live displays will enable kids to learn about insects -- and even hold them in their hands.

The 4-H Youth Building also will highlight the value of water in our diet and in agriculture, according to building coordinator Mya Rushton, Penn State Extension 4-H teen program manager. "Young people can calculate how much water they are 'eating,'" she said. "4-H staff will help visitors see the water content in their foods and reflect on the use of water in agriculture."

Several other exhibits in the 4-H Youth Building will include live animals. The Pennsylvania Rabbit Association will feature Angora rabbits and show young people how to utilize wool from the animals by weaving and using a loom.

"Youth also can find out about the great opportunities 4-H has to offer in science, engineering, technology, citizenship, leadership and healthy living," Rushton said. "We can offer fun, games, activities and prizes for all youth visitors who participate."

Ag Progress Days will feature many other attractions aimed at youth and their families:

--At the Kids' Climb, on Main Street near the Equine Exhibits Building, children can don safety equipment and harnesses and climb a tree like a professional arborist.

--The Shaver's Creek Environmental Center exhibit, on Main Street between West Eighth and West Ninth streets, will showcase turtles, snakes, birds of prey and amphibians.

--Hands-on exhibits at the Pasto Agricultural Museum, on Main Street across from the red barn, will give visitors a glimpse into farm and rural life before the widespread use of electricity and gas-powered equipment.

--Games, a scavenger hunt, food demonstrations and other interactive activities will be offered at the Family Room building on Main Street.

--Visitors can get "lost" in A-Maze-N Corn, outside the Joseph D. Harrington Crops, Soils, and Conservation Building, at the end of East Fifth Street. This corn maze is accessible for wheelchairs and baby strollers.

--Miniature horses, draft horses and other breeds will be among the demonstrations at the Equine Experience, at the top of Main Street.

--At the Pedal Go Kart Derby, on West Eighth Street behind the Family Room building, kids supply the power as they travel a serpentine track.

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. 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.

For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website. Twitter users can find and share information about the event by using the hashtag #agprogressdays, and Facebook users can find the event at

Last Updated July 28, 2015