101st Penn State Horticulture Show explores the seasons

Cheryl and Marvin LeValley look through a selection of mums for sale at the Penn State Horticultural Show at the Ag Arena.
Cheryl and Marvin LeValley look through a selection of mums for sale at the Penn State Horticultural Show at the Ag Arena. CDT file photo

Anyone who visits this weekend’s Penn State Horticulture Show can purchase plants and fresh food while taking part in one of university’s longest-running traditions.

Hosted and organized by the College of Agricultural Sciences’ Horticulture Club, this year marks the 101st iteration of the student-run event. The theme of the show, “Seasons of Horticulture,” will highlight the ways in which agriculture changes throughout the year.

Penn State’s Horticulture Club has dozens of members, and although the club has four faculty advisers, including Martin McGann, he emphasized that the students are the ones who put everything together.

“There are students who will be up there all night long Thursday night and maybe Friday night getting things ready for the show,” said McGann, an associate professor of landscape contracting.

Setting up the event requires more than just filling the Snider Agricultural Arena with plants. The process began in the spring, when Horticulture Club managers met with senior design students to discuss proposals for this year’s show. All of the materials for the show are donated by nurseries in and around the state, but actually acquiring them involves a fair amount of work.

“Students have to go out and pick them up, so they might be on the road for eight hours if they are picking up material in the Pittsburgh area and the southern part of the state,” McGann said.

Not only is the show a chance for Horticulture Club members to interact with the public and share some of their knowledge about the art of plant cultivation, but the event also serves as a fundraiser. Everything at the show will be for sale, with proceeds going toward the club’s trips and events throughout the semester.

According to McGann, “We’ll have not only plants this year but we’ll also have produce like apples, onions, peppers and things like that for sale.”

He said that funding is just one reason why the show has been such a staple of the Penn State agriculture community.

“It gives students the opportunity to become involved in a really fun project, and it also shows their ability to plan, organize and install this pretty elaborate landscape inside the Ag Arena,” he said. “When they finish on Saturday morning, they can look at this and say, ‘Wow. This is really an accomplishment. We were all a part of this.’ ”