Penn State to offer Farm Show activities for all ages

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — If you have questions about gardening, home food preservation, water quality, agricultural history, or education and careers in the agricultural sciences, you can find answers at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, which takes place Jan. 7-14 in Harrisburg.

The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences' exhibit in the Main Hall will offer a series of presentations throughout the week featuring Penn State Extension Master Gardeners, food safety educators, Master Watershed Stewards and staff from the Pasto Agricultural Museum.

Presentations by Master Gardeners will provide tips and advice on planting trees, maximizing home vegetable production, pollinator gardening, adding seasonal color to the landscape and other topics. Sessions led by food-safety extension educators will cover the basics of home food preservation, and the curator of Penn State's Pasto Agricultural Museum will display artifacts from the museum's collection and discuss how historical aspects of farming set the stage for modern technology.

Master Watershed Stewards — a statewide network of volunteers who work with local communities to improve the health of streams and rivers based on university research and recommendations — will cover topics such as groundwater, stream ecology, wetlands, invasive plants, water recreation and stormwater management.

The full schedule of presentations at the Penn State exhibit is available online.

Visitors at the Penn State exhibit also will be able to engage with students and advisers from the College of Agricultural Sciences, who will be on hand throughout the show to answer questions about the college's academic programs and the many educational and career opportunities available in agriculture and related fields.

"The College of Agricultural Sciences has a lot to offer students who are looking for career opportunities that they are passionate about and who want to make a difference in the world," said Jean Lonie, director of student recruitment and activities. "At our Farm Show exhibit, prospective students and their families can learn more about our 17 diverse majors, career paths, internships, travel opportunities and other ways that they can be part of agriculture, the most dynamic and important industry in the world."

Lonie noted that students in the College of Agricultural Sciences do not just study theory — they apply what they learn every day in the college's classrooms, laboratories, farms, greenhouses and outdoor learning spaces.

"That makes a difference in not just getting an education but in creating a springboard to future success," she said. "From feeding billions to managing natural resources, from developing communities to curing cancer, from breeding turfgrass for safer athletic fields to caring for animals and plants, the work that students in the College of Agricultural Sciences do has an impact on everyone's lives each and every day."

Pennsylvania 4-H — which is administered by Penn State Extension — also will have a large presence at the Farm Show, with educational and informative exhibits highlighting the opportunities that 4-H offers to youth, ages 5-18, in topics such as robotics, plant and animal sciences, entomology, and family and consumer sciences.

Many 4-H members enter their projects in Farm Show youth livestock shows and other competitive events. In addition, youth members who comprise the 4-H State Council will represent the organization at several events during the week, including the opening ceremonies.

At the 4-H Ag Learning Station, youth visitors will become "hot-house detectives" by creating a bean bracelet — a plastic bag containing a seed that they can wear home around their wrists. Participating in the activity will teach them plant science as they germinate their seed at home, transplant it and watch it grow.

Throughout the complex, many other Farm Show events and activities depend on behind-the-scenes contributions from College of Agricultural Sciences personnel. Each year, more than 100 faculty members, county-based extension educators and staff from the college lead and participate on Farm Show committees, develop displays, and coordinate competitive exhibits and shows ranging from dairy cattle and poultry to maple products and mushrooms.

The college's role at the Farm Show is part of Penn State's land-grant partnership with the state.

Sponsored by the state Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in America, with 24 acres under roof, spread throughout 11 buildings including three arenas. Farm Show officials expect more than 500,000 spectators, some 6,000 animals, more than 10,000 competitive exhibits and about 300 commercial exhibitors at the eight-day event.

The show is held at the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center, at the corner of Cameron and Maclay streets in Harrisburg, just off exit 67 of Interstate 81. Hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 7-13 and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 14. Admission is free, and parking is $15. For more information, visit the Farm Show website.

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Last Updated December 20, 2016