Youngsters had the opportunity to be arborists at Ag Progress Days, if only for a few minutes.
Brightly colored ropes hung from two tall trees, and professional staff helped kids into harnesses and then hooked them up to the ropes so they could climb up the rope and ring a bell at the top.
For Jim Savage, Penn State instructor of arboriculture, climbing is the hook to get kids interested in trees.
Savage said they’ll likely see somewhere between 1,400 and 1,800 kids during the time the kids’ climb event is open.
“It was really fun,” said Emily Davis, 7.
Emily said she doesn’t usually climb trees at home, but she liked climbing to the top of the rope and then getting to slide down.
From traditional county fair food to guided tours to exhibits on the latest technology, there’s something for every agricultural interest at Ag Progress Days.
Ag Progress Days, sponsored by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, has almost 500 exhibitors and is expected to draw 45,000 attendees, according to the university. The three-event, celebrating its 42nd year, is the state’s largest outdoor agricultural exposition.
Sanford Smith, a senior lecturer in forest resources and extension education at Penn State, spent the day demonstrating how to make modern day small-scale charcoal.
It’s basically burning wood in the absence of oxygen, he said.
Charcoal is a natural wood product that’s harvest sustainably, Smith said.
And aside from fueling a grill for a summer barbecue — or Smith’s lunch of sausage and sweet corn — charcoal has a variety of uses, including as a poison absorbent.
People have been making charcoal for thousands of years, he said.
It takes a watershed
Visitors to the College of Agricultural Sciences Exhibits Building and Theater had the opportunity to learn about water quality issues in Pennsylvania.
Among the presentations Tuesday was “It Takes a Watershed: Restoring Pa. Streams” by Matt Royer, director of the university’s Agriculture and Environment Center.
“Everyone has an impact on water quality,” Royer said, adding that everyone lives in a watershed.
According to Penn State, the commonwealth has 86,00 miles of rivers and streams.
Some of the major challenges affecting water quality are runoff from the landscape, abandoned mine drainage and stormwater runoff from development, he said.
It takes a whole community of folks to get engaged and implement strategies to improve the health of watersheds, Royer said.
Ag Progress Days continues 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center in Pennsylvania Furnace.