About Us

Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit. Focused on success.

Helping Ag Sciences students to learn and think like entrepreneurs. Supporting faculty in research commercialization. Empowering all of us to be thriving innovators.


Earl Harbaugh, a 1961 Agricultural Sciences graduate, founded five businesses and has supported the College of Agricultural Sciences for more than a decade.

He learned to be an entrepreneur on his own, starting with raising and selling broiler chickens in his hometown of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, to help pay his way through college.

How much better it would be, Harbaugh realized, if Penn State Ag Sciences undergraduate students could learn how to think like and be entrepreneurs. They could minor in entrepreneurship and immerse themselves in the process of taking action on their ideas for solutions and opportunities.

Forty-two students enrolled in the college’s Food and Bio-Innovation cluster within the Entrepreneurship and Innovation minor, and 150 have visited an entrepreneur to study innovation in the field as part of a real-life, hands-on teaching case assignment.

“The whole future of our economy rests on entrepreneurs and business development,” says Harbaugh, who started the first specialized dealership for Ditch Witch Midwest in northern Illinois and went on to found four more companies.

He and his wife, Kay, who grew up in Erie, settled in St. Charles, Illinois.

“Pennsylvania is still where our roots are,” says Harbaugh. “We thought, ‘How are we going to give back to this college?’ Our answer was E&I—building a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation.”

Soon they established the Harbaugh Endowment for Entrepreneurship to host successful entrepreneurs on campus. The Harbaughs’ donations formed the backbone of what became the E&I Program. Everyone—from students, to professors, to administrators and alumni—can innovate, creating value, new enterprises, and new jobs, says Harbaugh, and their work can help solve big environmental problems.

“We’ve just begun to lift off,” says Harbaugh, assessing E&I’s initial accomplishments. “We’ve just begun to start because of the excitement of faculty, students, administration, and stakeholders. We can be very pleased—but we’ve just begun.”

Pillars of E&I

Student success and research commercialization are pillars of entrepreneurship and innovation in the College of Ag Sciences.

We want our undergraduate students to learn to take action on their ideas, which is the entrepreneurial mindset needed to become innovators. This will help them achieve success no matter what they do, whether it’s innovate within a big company or start a business.

We want undergraduate students, graduate students, and researchers to know about the breadth of entrepreneurship and innovation resources available to them.

The Ag Springboard Pitch Contest has awarded $64,000 in prize money, coached 325 students in 123 teams over seven competitions in how to pitch, and helped support 10 student startups.

We want to make it easier for the college’s graduate students and researchers to commercialize their discoveries and help those solutions reach the marketplace. Solutions that gather dust on a shelf can’t solve problems.

More than $1 million awarded through the Research Applications for INnovation (RAIN) program since 2012 to support 17 commercialization efforts and yielding 5 University-IP-related startups and 19 jobs (so far).

Realizing the full potential of innovation from across the College of Ag Sciences community, we believe, is both possible and essential to:

  • Economic prosperity in Pennsylvania
  • Solving unprecedented global challenges to feed people, and power and sustain life through agriculture, food, and biorenewables
  • Fulfill Penn State’s modern-day land-grant mission

If you’re part of the college, you’re already part of this!

Supporters of E&I at the College of Agricultural Sciences

Earl and Kay Harbaugh

In fall 2017, Earl and Kay Harbaugh added $750,000 to a previous gift of $250,000 in order to endow the Harbaugh Entrepreneur and Innovation Faculty Scholar in the College of Agricultural Sciences. The University matched the Harbaugh gift by adding an additional $750,000 to the endowment.

With their $1 million gift, to which the University contributed $1 million in matching funds, John and Patty Warehime have endowed the John and Patty Warehime Entrepreneur in Residence in the College of Agricultural Sciences. A 1964 graduate of the college, John Warehime is chairman of the board of Hanover Foods.

He and his wife have contributed generously to Penn State's athletics program, the Blue Band, and the Agricultural Sciences Future Fund. John’s father created the Alan R. Warehime Professor of Agribusiness endowment. C. Daniel Azzara, director of entrepreneurship and innovation in the College of Agricultural Sciences, holds this professorship.

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Invent Penn State

Through E&I, the College of Agricultural Sciences is a leading partner in Invent Penn State, a Commonwealth-wide initiative spearheaded by Penn State President Emeritus Eric J. Barron to drive job creation, economic development and student career success by helping researchers and students transform their ideas and projects into market-ready products and services. Invent Penn State is one of the highest priorities in A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence, the University's five-year, $1.6 billion fundraising campaign.

How You Can Help

Join our effort! You can mentor a student in entrepreneurship or host a student team studying innovation within your business. Contact Mark Gagnon, Harbaugh Entrepreneur and Innovation Faculty Scholar.

For more ways to support entrepreneurship and innovation at the college, please contact Dan Azzara, E&I Director, or Lauren Steinberg, Senior Director of Development, College of Ag Sciences.