This year marked the 106th Pennsylvania Farm Show, the largest indoor agricultural exposition under one roof in the nation. For over a century, the Farm Show has attracted spectators from near and far, growing in recent years to tens, and even hundreds of thousands of visitors. The PA Farm show provides activities and sites that stimulate all the senses, from the famous milkshakes and butter sculpture to the farm animals and competitions, there is plenty to see and do, smell, eat, and learn. In fact, the Farm Show is one of PA's best and most fun opportunities to learn about agriculture in Pennsylvania!
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, last year's Farm Show had to be held virtually. This year, it was back to its regular in-person schedule, and its theme "Harvesting More" is a nod to the knowledge, equipment, technology, science, and everything that will allow us to "harvest" opportunities today. It also points toward a future in which we'll be able to "harvest more" from the knowledge gained by our younger generation of agriculturalists!
From the food we eat to the clothes we wear, to the furniture and office supplies we use, agriculture plays a major role in our day-to-day lives. Agriculture and agricultural education are more than simply growing and harvesting food or crops, they also play roles in transportation, economic development, export trade, and job opportunities in other critical industries.
Earlier this week, our own Secretary Noe Ortega joined Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding to celebrate Pennsylvania's FFA students and all their accomplishments—from earning Keystone Degrees in agricultural excellence to having the exciting chance to zip up their famous blue corduroy FFA jackets for the very first time.
These students represent the future of agriculture in Pennsylvania and highlight the critical importance in investments in agriculture education. Jointly housed in PDE and the PA Department of Agriculture (PDA), the Commission for Agricultural Education Excellence, or Ag Ed Commission, helps to ensure access to knowledge and skills for students across the commonwealth—whether they live in rural towns, cities, or the suburbs.
The 15-member commission is charged with assisting in the development of a statewide plan for agricultural education and coordinating the implementation of related programming with both departments. The commission will work with PDE and PDA to identify gaps in education and training for those in-demand career paths; focus on work-based learning, including micro-credentials and apprenticeships; and help Pennsylvanians obtain meaningful careers on the way to finding solutions to the shortage of talent in the near and long-term.
To learn more about the state of agriculture education in the commonwealth, check out the commission's 2020 Agriculture Education Report.
Although the Farm Show is the biggest agricultural event of the year in Pennsylvania, there are still plenty of opportunities to learn about agriculture. Check out the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to see how you can get involved and "harvest more" now and in the future!