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Area students bring education to Grange agriculture exhibits

Jordan Cole helps braid ribbons into the mane of Thunder, a 3-year-old Percheron, before the six-horse hitch show during the last day of the Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair in 2015.
Jordan Cole helps braid ribbons into the mane of Thunder, a 3-year-old Percheron, before the six-horse hitch show during the last day of the Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair in 2015. Centre Daily Times, file

The Grange Fair is more than just a chance to camp out, see some farm animals and take in some good food.

Organizers also hope you learn something in the process.

Naturally, agriculture is the name of the game for the fair — the produce, the animals, the farming aspect. But, as agriculture education committee chairwoman Latrisha Hough said, there are a lot of people who don’t know about agriculture.

“It’s not just animals,” Hough said. “A lot of people just don’t know where their food comes from and how it’s processed.”

Working with 4-H and FFA members, she said the committees helped brainstorm some new events to bring agricultural education to the front of the fair, as well as bringing back some old favorites.

New this year, Hough said, is the Discover 4-H and FFA event from 5-7 p.m. Aug. 22 at the ag arena — an event that shows that you don’t have to live on a farm to be involved in agriculture.

“This is a new exhibit,” she said. “We show that you can do sewing, cooking, landscaping — it’s not just animals.

“A lot of people might not know that is part of FFA or 4-H,” she said.

Hough also chairs the Youth Advisory Committee, and brought both the education and advisory committees together this year in order to get the kids of Centre County involved and generate some new ideas.

There are five FFA chapters in the county, she said, broken up among the school districts. Each one excels in a particular area, so the student members are able to assist in those programs.

A few student-created favorites are returning again this year, she said, including Grange Idol and and the Barnyard Olympics.

“The olympics are for both adults and children,” she said. “You have to get through a set of obstacles — say, milking a cow, then throwing some hay bales — and there are team events.”

Hough said building the events has been a multi-month process that started in October when she began reaching out to different groups. The Discover 4-H and FFA event alone has been in the works since January.

Several other organizations will be available to help educate the public as well, she said. The Pennsylvania Game Commission will help kick off the fair from Friday to Sunday with its trailer, talking about the game animals of the state. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Woodmobile will arrive Monday to discuss the forests of the state, speaking on diseases in trees and emerald ash borer insect damage prevention.

Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center will also appear at the fair bringing different birds and wildlife found at the nature center, Hough said.

Naturally, she encouraged all visitors to tour the barns and exhibits available every year, showcasing the produce of the area, the processes of bringing food to the table and the products local farmers have grown.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews

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