Ag Journeys

“Penn State Ag is not a 4-year experience. It’s a rest-of-your-life experience.”

Abigail O’Neill

Hometown: New Holland, PA

Major: Agricultural and Extension Education (AEE)

Minor: International Agriculture (INTAG)

Clubs: Penn State FFA Alumni and Supporters (student advisor), Global Teach Ag Network (undergraduate intern), Ag Advocates, Teach Ag Avengers, Alpha Tau Alpha (honors fraternity for agricultural education)

Good at: Being an avid Philly sports fan, public speaking, reciting TikTok sounds, cooking (recent discovery).

Beaver Stadium, white out

Alma Mater.

“I cry every time we sing the Penn State Alma Mater after games at Beaver Stadium. Joining arms and singing with 100K students with the same heart? OK, maybe I’m a cornball, but that’s magic.”

“My Penn State friends will be lifelong.”

Penn State alumni.

I initially said yes to another college, but during my gap year, I kept meeting Penn State alumni. They were all passionate advocates for Penn State in general and for ag in particular. The connections, the excellence, the community—they sold me on it all!

Students on a bench

Ag Hill is the cure for Penn State bigness.

“Ag is its own world here at Penn State. All the facilities, all the classrooms, are within walking distance and they’re like a buzzing hive of activity. Midway through my first year, I kept seeing faces, and when I’d smile, they would smile back. Everyone is kind. It feels like a giant family and a space to be your true self. If you are worried about the bigness of Penn State, Ag Hill is the cure.”

FFA on stage

Ag was a happy accident.

“In my high school you had to list your top three choices for electives. I didn’t get my first two choices and I wound up in choice number three, the ag program.

I started by showing goats, and I was terrible at it. Goats don’t listen to me. I bounced around projects, wound up at FFA by accident, and it changed my life. I had a great ag teacher, Katie Ranck, a Penn State Agricultural and Extension Education alum, who said, ‘You’ll do big things if you just stick with me.’

She was right, I am doing big things. Ag was the best happy accident of my life.”

Study abroad!

“My International Agriculture minor led to me spending a month in Belize. My advice: jump on an international experience at Penn State. You may well travel for the rest of your life, but the chance to live and study in close quarters with your host family and fellow students is unique. I got both an eye-opening international experience and deepened Penn State connections. Some of my strongest Penn State friendships were forged in Belize.”

Friends outside of their hut
Students with Escape Rooms sign

Do the things that scare you.

“Be it an upper-level math class, joining a club for an activity you’ve never done, or signing up for a research trip to Kenya, challenge yourself. That’s sort of a current theme on my Penn State Ag Journey. Do the things that scare you—they have the greatest payoff in terms of personal growth.”

Abigail and Professor Daniel Foster

Failure was a teacher.

“During my first year, a friend and I hunkered down to study for a biology exam. Whiteboards, flash cards, hours of prep. I walked in confident—and bombed it. As a straight-A high school student, it came as a real shock. I doubled down on homework, writing papers, and labs and still finished with a decent grade. It was such a growth experience. Failure taught me to stay humble, stay hungry, and remember that college is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Students holding someone sideways

FFA, all the way.

“I served as the Pennsylvania FFA state president in a gap year between high school and Penn State. I had the opportunity to facilitate workshops in high schools across the state, which sparked my passion for working with students and teaching agriculture! Wherever I go, here at Penn State, or out in the world, FFA members stand out. There is a confidence, a seriousness that FFA kids bring to the table.”