Ag Springboard Competition Winners Announced

A five-student team was the winner of the 2012 Ag Springboard Competition conducted by the college. For winning the business-pitch contest, which promotes agricultural entrepreneurship and new venture ideas in the field, Team Green Towers won the $5,000 first-place award. The team is developing technology for hydroponics greenhouses for spatially constrained environments using discarded shipping containers.

Members of Team Green Towers stand in front of college poster. PHOTO: JESSICA PAHOLSKY

Team Green Towers LR: Mike Zaengle, Mike Ghen, Ken Palamara, Dustin Betz, and Jon Gumble. PHOTO: JESSICA PAHOLSKY

Team members will use competition funds to build a full-scale prototype of their idea.

Team members include Dustin Betz of Camp Hill, a junior majoring in plant biology with minors in horticulture and entrepreneurship; Jon Gumble of Honesdale, a senior majoring in landscape contracting; Mike Zaengle of Pennsburg, a junior majoring in architecture; Mike Ghen of Chalfont, a junior majoring in computer engineering; and Ken Palamara of Bethel Park, a junior majoring in energy engineering.

More than 100 students from a number of Penn State colleges formed 35 teams and entered the contest. Twenty-four of those teams developed competitive venture plans.

Two teams have commercialized their ideas, and approximately ten teams continue to develop their ideas. “Seeing the students act upon their ideas is a positive outcome of entrepreneurship in agricultural sciences at Penn State,” notes Mark Gagnon, Harbaugh Entrepreneurship scholar and Ag Springboard Competition coordinator.

The Ag Springboard Competition is open every fall semester to all Penn State students. It is sponsored by the Earl and Kay Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Endowment.