Kids climb, swing, learn at Penn State's Ag Progress Days

July 24, 2008

University Park, Pa. -- Children visiting Penn State's Ag Progress Days, Aug. 19-21 at Rock Springs., can spend a day swinging, climbing, riding and earning prizes at the exhibits and displays to be found at the state's largest outdoor agricultural exposition. But parents will know that their kids are getting opportunities to discover the connections between all living things.

The Family Learning Hub, located on Main Street between West 8th and 9th streets at the exposition site, is an area dedicated to promoting healthy eating, healthy lifestyles and spending time together as families. One section of the hub is the 4-H Youth Building, which features several kid-friendly booths that promote hands-on learning.

The booths, sponsored by such groups as 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 activities related to agriculture.

"We want to provide an educational experience for children that is more than science alone," saif Sanford Smith, natural resources youth extension specialist, who is coordinating activities for the building. "With activities addressing food and nutrition, international agriculture, land use planning, plant pathology and embryology, we are showcasing the best our college and educational efforts have to offer."

The building will feature a 3-D community planning activity where kids can place small model towns and villages in an environmentally friendly landscape. "There will be kid-sized homes and building pieces that represent different structures and facilities that people build on the land," Smith said. "The kids will re-arrange the pieces to create a working landscape that efficiently utilizes and protects natural resources, showing the importance of proper planning."

Adjacent to the 4-H Youth Building, the Family Room building focuses on "strengthening families through practical information about family life," according to Daniel Perkins, professor of family and youth resiliency and policy.

"The Family Room is designed to introduce families to the wonderful educational programming that Penn State Cooperative Extension offers to parents and children," Perkins said. "These programs provide information on healthy nutrition, cooking tips, financial planning, getting children ready for school, integrated pest management and diversity."

Family Room exhibits will include "Better Kid Care," with child-care information for parents and providers; "Pesticide Educations," with a mini-golf activity; "Right on the Money," which will teach parents and kids the best way to handle money; "Discover Food Science," which will look at the role of science in the different aspects of bread-making; "Family Fitness," which will provide a platform for both children and adults to live a healthier and more active life; and "Nutrition Links," which will promote "My Pyramid" and the USDA dietary guidelines while making the connection with the need for physical activity.

"The food demonstrations have been some of the most popular features in the Family Room for the past 10 years," Perkins said. "Visitors will receive free cooking tips revolving around the theme 'Healthy Family Recipes – Fast and Flavorful,' while learning how to prepare healthy meals for their family."

Also at the Family Learning Hub, 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. Next to the Crops, Soils and Conservation Tent, a one-acre corn maze will provide a huge
green-and-growing puzzle for entire families to wander through, with wheelchair and stroller access.

-- The Pony Express. On Wednesday, Aug. 20 at the Equine Exhibits Area, visitors of all ages can ride a pony under expert supervision -- an opportunity for anyone who has always wanted to ride a horse or learn more about riding and horsemanship.

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. on Aug. 19; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 20; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 21. Admission and parking are free. For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days Web site at
EDITORS: Contact Sanford Smith at 814-865-4261, or by e-mail at"> Contact Daniel Perkins at 814-865-6988, or by e-mail at">


(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009