Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding was joined by youth agriculture leaders to open the 2022 Pennsylvania Farm Show Saturday, showcasing how hands-on learning opportunities are shaping the next generation of agriculturalists.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show runs January 8-15 and is the largest indoor agricultural exposition under one roof in the nation, with nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibits.
“This Farm Show is a tribute to all who keep agriculture moving, especially our youth who are the future of the industry,” said Redding. “This year’s Farm Show theme is Harvesting More. This past year, it has been a privilege to meet the individuals embody Harvesting More. The faces of Pennsylvania agriculture are rural and urban. They are livestock producers, urban gardeners, food processors, charitable food system partners, youth and more. Each story is unique, but there is commonality in our mission – feeding the commonwealth and the world.”
Redding added, “we are Harvesting More, together, and the programming and professional development associated with the Pennsylvania Farm Show is harvesting a bright future for Pennsylvania agriculture.”
At the opening ceremony, Redding was joined by PA 4-HOpens In A New Window State Council President Olivia Jumper; PA FFA State President Abigail O’Neill and PA Farm Show Junior Committee member Jessica Herr.
For Olivia Jumper of Westmoreland County, the PA Farm Show serves as an opportunity to Harvest More. To her, ‘More’ encompasses both agricultural and other educational exhibits on display. Sewing, robotics, art and hundreds of other exhibitions bring the Farm Show to life. To Jumper, Farm Show is as dynamic and diverse as the visitors it serves. Through 4-H, Jumper has become involved in horseback riding, cooking and leadership clubs. The skills she’s gained from the organization will help her pursue a degree in English with hopes to one day become an English teacher to share her passions with the next generation.
Abby O’Neill, Lancaster County, looks at the PA Farm Show as an opportunity to learn. Before enrolling in agriculture education her freshman year of high school, Abby felt disconnected from agriculture. Through her agriculture classroom, FFA experience and events like the PA Farm Show, Abby has grown as both a consumer and as a new agriculturalist. To Abby, Farm Show means opportunity; opportunity to grow, learn and inspire. Abby’s culmination of experiences through agriculture education and the PA Farm Show have inspired her to pursue a degree in agriculture education to help future generations find a home in agriculture.
Jessica Herr grew up on her family’s farm in Lancaster County. For her, agriculture means community. Jessica made her first trip to the PA Farm Show in 2007; it was an experience that felt larger than life. Through 4-H and FFA, Jessica has raised market lambs on her family farm, served as an FFA State Officer and is now pursuing a degree in agricultural science with a minor in communications at Penn State. For Jessica, Harvesting More means harvesting community. It embodies connecting Pennsylvanians – farmers and consumers alike – to the food system. With her degree, she hopes to share her passion for agriculture, reaching consumers through outreach, education and marketing.
Pennsylvania agriculture is a $132.5 billion industry that supports nearly 53,000 farms and more than 593,000 jobs each year. To ensure agriculture’s prosperity for food to remain available, accessible and affordable, a new generation of agricultural workers is needed as farmers retire and new technology-based positions become available.
In recognition of workforce needs, the Wolf Administration created a 15-member Commission for Agriculture Excellence and proceeded to invest heavily in the future of the industry through Pennsylvania Farm Bill Programs such as the Ag & Youth Grant Program, Farm to School Program and Farm Vitality Grant Program.
Parents and caregivers of children are encouraged to seek out opportunities for hands-on agriculture experiences to foster an early appreciation of this life-sustaining industry. Careers in agriculture offer opportunities in science, technology, conservation, engineering, business and traditional farming. It is meaningful work that provides food to families across the commonwealth and the world.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show runs January 8 – 15, 2022. Admission is free and parking is $15 in Farm Show lots. The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center is easily accessible from Interstates 81 and 83.