Ag Progress Days manager eager to retain traditions

Mirror file photos by Gary M. Baranec David Gan demonstrates the features of some of the drones he was exhibiting and selling during the 2016 Ag Progress Days. Jesse Darlington Jr., the interim manager of the exposition following the retirement of longtime manager Robert Oberheim, said technology has benefitted the agricultural industry.

Ag Progress Days has a new leader, but he’s not exactly a rookie.

Jesse Darlington Jr., a facilities coordinator in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, was named interim manager of the exposition following the retirement of longtime manager Robert Oberheim.

“I had been site manager for 20 years, so this isn’t anything new to me, just a little more work. Bob Oberheim created a great show over the years; I would be crazy not to keep it that way,” Darlington said.

Ag Progress Days, Pennsylvania’s largest outdoor agricultural exposition, will be held Aug. 15-17 at Penn State’s Research Center at Rock Springs.

Ag Progress Days features the latest technology and research exhibits, educational programs and guided tours. It is one of only three agricultural exhibitions in the country sponsored by a major university. Exhibits showcase the latest in Penn State research, as well as information on best management practices and changing regulations in the agricultural industry.

“The big thing is technology in agriculture. It is exciting where we have been going over the last 20 years. With technology, we have drones, we have autonomous tractors. Technology is here. You have crops producing more on smaller acreage. It is exciting, and you need to keep up with it,” Darlington said. “The Ag Progress Days exposition is a must-see for all farmers, growers and anyone with an interest in agricultural advancements.”

About 45,000 visitors are expected to converge on the 500-plus exhibitors from 34 states and four provinces of Canada.

Of the expected attendees, more than 60 percent are actively engaged in agriculture or related professions.

“People come to become more educated, whether they are taking a cooking class or helping youth become more familiar with 4-H programs. People want to learn more about equipment and practices,” Darlington said.

Field demonstrations are always a draw at Ag Progress Days.

A new demonstration in 2017 will spotlight pull-type, no-till corn planters. Other demonstrations will feature hay mowers, rakes and tedders, hay balers and bale handlers, Darlington said. All demonstrations are weather-permitting.

Darlington encourages producers attending Ag Progress Days to ask questions of Penn State faculty specialists and extension educators and talk with experts about the latest research findings, best practices, business issues and governmental regulations that could affect their operations. Information will be available on issues related to dairy, livestock and crop production; animal health; soil conservation; water quality; and ag renewable energy.

As usual, Ag Progress Days will have plenty of activities at the 4-H Youth Building where children can learn about 4-H programming in science, engineering, technology, citizenship, leadership and healthy living. They can find out how to get involved with 4-H, play with rabbits, see robotics demonstrations and learn about farm and home safety and plant diseases.

“This year’s youth building will showcase the variety of activities that can be done in 4-H,” said building coordinator Jeanette Blank, 4-H education program associate and teen program manager, in a statement. “We are also excited to be hosting the first Ag Olympics event for our 4-H families and alumni, as well as the public.”

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau will have numerous exhibits and activities including learning opportunities for young visitors inside its exhibit building.

Visitors can catch up on the latest legislative issues, talk with representatives offering money-saving member benefits and enjoy fun and educational activities geared toward children — all under one roof.

“Ag Progress Days is a highlight of the summer for farm families across Pennsylvania, because it offers an opportunity for farmers to learn more about new advances in agriculture and technology, obtain updated information on key issues impacting their businesses and a chance to socialize with other farmers and friends from across Pennsylvania,” said PFB President Rick Ebert in a statement.

Sponsored by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, 9 miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 15; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 16; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 17. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit http://apd/psu.edu.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.

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