Ag Journeys

“This is where I was meant to be.”

Madelyn Bentz

Hometown: Epping, NH

Major: Agricultural and Extension Education

Good at: Splitting wood, mentoring, horseback riding, running, upper-body workouts, being a real Yankee, hanging in a hammock with a book

“I tell my new students: you never know when you might need some help or advice.”

Over the summer, Maddie stayed on campus to work as an orientation leader for New Student Orientation (NSO). “We talk to students about what the heck they’re supposed to do here, about how to be smart and safe, about all the campus resources available to them.”

“I give all of them my Instagram and email. I’ve had students message me with questions or just to thank me for being there. It’s so rewarding.”

"Be that person."

“I want to be a teacher. I know it sounds corny, but my biggest thing about being a teacher is I want to change lives. I want to be that person for someone.”

“He’d say, ‘Don’t take my word for it.’”

“My favorite class so far is taught by my adviser, Kevin Curry. It’s called Science, Literacy, and Public Policy, and we talk about what makes good science. He’d tell us, ‘Don’t say this is good science because Dr. Curry said so. Get your information from all these resources.’ It was so engaging.”

“You’ll see us in the fall, up in the trees.”

“You’re not going to learn unless you do the thing in addition to knowing the facts. In my tree climbing class, we’re up there, working on knots, doing the thing.”

“So basically, I’m a lumberjack.”

As vice president of the Woodsmen Team, Maddie excels at timber sports.

“It does sound very ‘lumberjack’ of me, but I find it therapeutic to just split some wood.”

Penn State wasn’t even on her radar.

When it came time to look at colleges, Maddie was looking exclusively in New England. She wanted to be close to home.

“Then in my senior year, I was at a National FFA Convention, and I kept hearing about Penn State and agricultural education. It got me thinking, and I realized this is where I was meant to be.”

Belonging—it can happen when you least expect it.

“Wait, I know her!”

“My first semester, I struggled. Penn State is huge, and I’m from a graduating class of 61. I felt like a drop in the ocean.”

“You pass hundreds of people on your way to class. One day, after a really rough week, I’m walking on campus and I’m like, she just said hi to me! I know her! And it happened again the next day and the next day, more familiar faces. I thought, hey, I know people!”

“And now I tell my NSO students, at this university of 50,000 students, I see people I know all over the place. I have chem lab with him, I have Bio 110 in Thomas with her. You start making connections, and it gives you a sense of belonging.”