When some farm experts talk about agriculture, they’re not only talking about working the land.
Corey Dillon, a farm manager at Penn State, said agriculture is more than just getting your boots dirty.
In fact, he said, technology plays a big role in modern agriculture.
An event held Wednesday, the first of a two-day program called “Plant Yourself in Agriculture,” hosted by Penn State at the Ag Progress Days site, helped high school students understand the various aspects of the industry.
“It’s creating the opportunity to show high school students what agriculture is all about,” Dillon said. “The goal is to get students interested in agriculture and careers in technology, because that part of it is moving ahead so fast.”
More than 130 students from Juniata County, Penns Valley and State College area school districts participated in activities conducted by the university in partnership with industry representatives and local farmers.
Exhibits included a tractor station, ultrasound technology used on animals and a demonstration how drones can help farmers detect soil health.
Similar activities will be held Thursday with about 130 students from Bald Eagle, Bellefonte, Huntingdon and Williamsburg area school districts.
It’s not taking the labor out of farming; it’s just making it simpler
Jesse Darlington, Ag Progress Days manager
“The industry guys urge us to start pulling kids into agriculture,” Ag Progress Days manager Jesse Darlington said. “With technology today, it’s how farms are managed. It’s not taking the labor out of farming; it’s just making it simpler.”
A group of Penns Valley students were the first to participate in a John Deere tutorial and tractor station.
Sophomore Baylor Shunk was able to ride in a self-steering harvester, which tracks land data for farmers.
While that kind of vehicle isn’t necessarily used on his family’s Centre Hall cattle farm, Shunk said he’s familiar with how other technology is used in agriculture.
“The industry is evolving a lot,” Shunk said. “We did have a lot of this kind of technology on our farm when I was young, but we’re seeing now how things have changed and how it’s integrated in agriculture.”
Shunk was motivated to participate in the event by his aspiration to pursue a career in the agricultural field.
“It’s something I want to do in the future, but want to keep my options open with all directions you can go in it,” Shunk said. “I think this is really opening our eyes to what opportunities are out there.”
Dillon said this is the first year the university hosted the “Plant Yourself in Agriculture” event, but hopes to make it happen up to two times a year.
“I think the goal from here is to grow the number of kids interested in agriculture,” he said.