The College’s Best-Kept Secret: Ag Progress Days

While the College of Ag Sciences’ Agricultural Progress Days event isn’t really a secret, it certainly isn’t as well known to college students as it should be. Finished yesterday, Ag Progress Days is held each year about 2 weeks before classes start and is the perfect combination of food, friends, and interactive learning.

As a member of a College of Ag Sciences family and a local to State College for the past 11 years, I haven’t missed an Ag Progress Days since 2001. Every year, I am reminded how much I love the event as I chat with friends, eat great food, and learn a bit more about the agricultural sciences.

Ag Progress Days (APD) is the largest outdoor agricultural exposition in the state of Pennsylvania and has a mission of informing the public about Penn State research developments and best management practices in agricultural production. But there is a little more than you would expect. From climbing up trees or onto brand new tractors to enjoying fried Pennsylvania mushrooms and walking through a corn maze, there is a little bit of everything for everyone.

While I have visited APD just a few times as a general “attendee,” I have found myself more commonly volunteering at food stands for student organizations. For several years, I helped at the Pennsylvania FFA Foundation food booth, selling Hatfield pork products and having a good time with other high school ag students and teachers. I also have handled my fair share of fried mushrooms by volunteering at the Penn State Ag Student Council mushroom booth. Ag Student Council, the student-run head of all College of Ag Sciences’ clubs, organizes the stand each year and has students from all college clubs battering, flouring, breading, frying, and selling delicious PA-grown mushrooms.

So what does a college student do at an outdoor agricultural exposition? While your thing may not be looking at hundreds of tractors and agricultural equipment or crop displays, you can make your way though some of the demonstration booths, take a tour of the agricultural facilities and farms, get free stuff in the dairy industry tents, see some cool horse shows at the equine experience, pull yourself up straps into a tree like a real forester, eat from the several PA food industry booths, try out the corn maze (which will have you lost if you don’t answer the agronomy trivia questions correctly), or just walk around on a beautiful summer day with some friends. But by the time you’re here as a student in the college, I’m sure you will be running into even more friends who may be working with ag industry displays as summer interns, volunteering at the food booths, or just enjoying themselves. 

So come on out next summer to Ag Progress Days, which takes place each year from Tuesday to Thursday during the second full week of August at the college’s off-campus agricultural research center less than 10 miles from campus. You’ll be sure to see me there!