Perspective: Extending a Hand

We are Pennsylvania’s only land-grant university. What does that mean?

The land-grant system was created to provide affordable higher education for growing agricultural and technical needs in America. For the past 150 years, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing. We are also improving food, fiber, and fuel production while becoming better stewards of the environment. With the world population expected to reach about 9 billion in the next 40 years, these are real issues we’re working with. Unfortunately, economic troubles and recent state and federal budget cuts have made this mission especially challenging for our college.

Our college’s programs aren’t supported by tuition like the other colleges at Penn State; the land-grant mission depends on federal, state, and county funding to support crucial services and research for Pennsylvania, the nation, and world. This means state budget cuts hit our college directly, as was the case in 2010 when Penn State lost 19 percent of its funding. It’s also becoming harder to provide our services for Pennsylvania citizens.

Penn State may be a state institution, but our reach extends beyond state lines. We work with federal agencies and have researchers stationed worldwide. We have scientists in Africa developing new methods and technologies to help the continent overcome its food crisis sustainably. We are researching the development of increasingly affordable food to prevent health problems, combat disease, and prevent foodborne illnesses. And, as Pennsylvania contains 40 percent of the Chesapeake Bay’s contributing waterways, we are working to restore the bay to its former health.

Hopefully we can continue to help state legislators understand what a vital asset our college is. Penn State’s land-grant mission is a big reason I’m here, and I intend to become a part of that when I graduate! Ag Sciences isn’t just a college. It’s a necessity.

Frank Desiderio ’14 ERM