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Auction Action

 A total of 66 items were auctioned off to alumni and friends of the college at last fall’s Ag Live Tailgate event in Ag Arena. But the highest bidders weren’t the only ones who walked away as winners.

Alumni auction

In the seven years they have been a component of the tailgate event, the auctions have generated $139,473 for agricultural sciences students. The proceeds go exclusively toward student scholarships, internship awards, and other student and alumni programs. And that number will only continue to grow in the years ahead, said Assistant Director of Alumni Relations Naomi Knaub.

“Each year it just gets bigger and bigger,” Knaub said. “In the future we’ll see a larger attendance, and we’ll see the proceeds continue to grow. It’s a fun, exciting event where alumni can enjoy themselves but also make an impact in the lives of students.”

The Ag Alumni Society created the tailgate event—which always occurs on the day of the last home football game—more than 25 years ago. In 2005, the society visited Michigan State where alumni participated in an auction that they thought could be re-created at Penn State. In 2006, the silent and live auctions became a key element of the tailgate.

Some of last year’s items included a 2013 Penn State football “weekend extravaganza” for two, an autographed Philadelphia 
Eagles helmet, and a John Deere 12-volt Gator for children, just to name a few. Items were donated from alumni, businesses, groups, and faculty members.

For the past four years, Terry Etherton, head of the Department of Animal Science, and his wife, Penny Kris-Etherton, a professor in the College of Health and Human Development, have donated a wine tasting to the auction, complete with cheeses and appetizers. One year the lot sold for more than $1,000, Etherton said.

Knaub said since there are so many ag alums with connections to various industries, in the future more big-name businesses may contribute items as well.

Etherton was compelled to donate because he wanted to support students.

“The department has a passionate belief that students and their education are really important,” Etherton said. “And you need to provide them opportunities in the face of rising educational costs.”

Jeanette Blank ’13 AEE knows how important scholarships can be. The Ag Advocate comes from a dairy farm family.

“There’s not much money to be made there,” she said. “I’m paying my way through college myself.”

Blank interned with 4-H during the summer of 2012, where she acted as a centennial activity coordinator for five Pennsylvania counties. After her internship, she applied for and won an Ag Alumni Society Internship Award—a competitive scholarship funded by proceeds from the Ag Live auctions.

“The scholarship definitely helped me. I don’t have to work three jobs this semester. It took away a lot of the stress,” said Blank, who has applied to a graduate program at Penn State.

The Ag Alumni Society hopes that students who receive undergraduate scholarships will want to give back to the college and other students once they become alumni, said Dave Dell, chair of 
he Ag Alumni Society board’s Development and Recognition Committee.

“Certainly by becoming recipients of those awards, it creates a connection to the university,” Dell said.

Blank is proof of that sentiment. When given the option this year of getting her $100 Penn State general deposit money refunded back to her or pledging it to an organization, she chose to donate part of the money to the internship award endowment.

“It was cool to start to give back,” Blank said.

As more alumni and sponsors become involved, the event will only continue to get bigger and better, Knaub said.

And all of this to help students have the best experience possible at Penn State.

by Lauren Ingeno
Photograph by Jessica Paholsky