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Ag Progress Days Cultivates Interest in Agriculture

by on August 12, 2014 4:00 PM

Lancaster farmer Brandon Umble first came to Ag Progress Days years ago with his father, where they took in the range of exhibits, displays and events together. On Tuesday, he continued that tradition, bringing his own sons to the annual agricultural faire.

Walking through fields filled with massive tractors, cultivators and other tools at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center in Rock Springs, Umble says he always enjoys seeing the new farm equipment. Though many of the pieces of equipment that catch his eye are out of his price range, the Umble family always gets one thing for free: a good time.

“The boys always like to climb up on all the tractors,” Umble says. “Family is what really brings me back here each year.”

Tuesday was the first of three days of the 2014 Ag Progress Days event, which is sponsored by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. With exhibits and demonstrations geared toward everyone from commercial farmers and history buffs to families and children, Ag Progress offered something for everyone.

Joe Ault, a farmer from Pleasant Gap, says he’s been coming to the show for close to 20 years – since he was about seven years old. In that time he’s watched Ag Progress grow, with more vendors and exhibits coming each year.

“How big it’s gotten shows there’s more interest in agriculture around here,” Ault says. “Sometimes it seems like no one wants to farm anymore, so its good to see how it’s grown.”

While many people showed up to the event for a day of fun, nine year old Brandon Zajaczkowski was there to work. While many kids his age might have been nervous to help watch over a full-grown horse, Zajaczkowski was almost bored.

With experience watching over horses, goats, llamas and sheep on his family’s farm, making sure visitors didn’t spook a horse grazing in its pen outside the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences building was no problem at all. 

“I’m always helping out in some way when I come here, but I have a lot of fun – and I learn stuff too,” Zajaczkowski says.

Amy Pyle, an administrative assistant with Penn State’s Department of Animal Science, says she always loves coming out and helping teach the public about horses. The horse Zajaczkowski helped watch – a Tennessee Walker named Grace – was especially popular this year.

Though intermittent showers forced crowds to periodically take cover under tents and in buildings, Pyle says she wouldn’t dream of missing Ag Progress Days.

“I don’t care if it’s snowing; it’s fun out here,” she says.


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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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