Student Industry Tour Shows Pennsylvania's Diverse Agriculture

Posted: September 10, 2013

Twenty students and eight faculty in the Department of Animal Science were part of the 2013 student industry tour to see first hand several successful agricultural enterprises.
Twenty students and eight faculty from Penn State University's Department of Animal Science visited three farming operations in south central Pennsylvania to learn more about the diversity of Pennsylvania agriculture.

Twenty students and eight faculty from Penn State University's Department of Animal Science visited three farming operations in south central Pennsylvania to learn more about the diversity of Pennsylvania agriculture.

 "Eye-opening" and "incredible" are words used by several students to describe the farm visits they participated in during the fourteenth Department of Animal Science's New Student Industry Tour on August 29.

Designed to introduce students new to the University Park campus to the diversity of Pennsylvania agriculture, the tour took the twenty students and eight faculty members to three farms in south central Pennsylvania: Mason Dixon Farms, Hanover Show Farms and Beaver Creek Angus.

Dr. Terry Etherton, Head of the Department of Animal Science, said, "Our annual tour provides an exceptional opportunity for students to learn about the wide variety of career opportunities within agriculture by visiting successful and innovative operations. It has become an important tradition in welcoming students new to the campus, and it helps them get to know each other and become knowledgeable about the numerous student activities that are such a rewarding part of the student learning experience at Penn State."

Tour organizer Jana Peters, Animal Sciences Advising Coordinator, said the tour has become ever more valuable as more and more non-farm students enroll in animal science. She expressed deep appreciation to the hosts who welcomed the students and talked candidly about career opportunities in their endeavors.

Host Doyle Waybright, Mason Dixon Farms, said, "I very much appreciated the students' keen interest and smart questions as they toured the farm. They refreshed my hope for the next ag generation."

"I loved it," Mikayla Fulper, freshman from Lambertville, NJ, said.  "I grew up on a fifth generation family farm, and I really liked the opportunity to learn more, especially some things that I could bring back home. I was also interested in learning about potential internships and externships that are available."

Freshman Megan Sweppenheiser, Ulster, PA, said, "Learning about the different kinds of agricultural jobs for animal science majors was the most valuable part of our trip. I also found the different types of ag industries quite interesting, and I enjoyed developing a better relationship with some of the other students."

Calling the tour "incredible," freshman Noah Shulman, Hampton Township, said, "It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have the real world experience of seeing what we can do with an education from Penn State." Though Noah has worked on horse farm, he called all the visits "eye-opening," and appreciated the fact that all the hosts were so open in showing every aspect of their operations. He also appreciated developing friendships with the students with whom he will be spending the next four years in classes and in activities.

Operations visited were:

* Mason Dixon farms, Inc., owned by the Waybrght family, Gettysburg. Home to over 2,800 dairy cows, one of the largest in Pennsylvania, the farm is a family business. Every part of the operation is scrutinized for cost effectiveness and productivity. The farm has been in the family since 1784, purchased with a grant from Richard Penn. Innovation is key to the farm's success, from the 20 robotic milkers than milk 1,050 of the cows to the methane digester that supplies electricity for the farm. The Waybrights pioneered methane digesters in 1979, successfully converting cows' waste products into electricity.

* Hanover Shoe Farms, Hanover, the world's leading breeder of Standardbred race horses, currently stands 13 of the finest breeding stallions in the world. In the past breeding season the 13 stallions bred a total of 1,493 mares. Hanover Shoe Farms owns 404 brood mares, with their offspring sold as yearlings at the Lexington Selected Sale in Lexington, Kentucky, and at the Standardbred Horse Sale in Harrisburg. Over 50 full time employees care for the more than 1,000 horses and 3,000 acres.

* Beaver Creek Angus, Grim family, East Berlin, a purebred Angus farm with 139 head. Calves are produced using artificial insemination and embryo transfer, with a breeding program goal of balancing all the economically important traits. They also try to wean the most beef per acre at the least cost. They assist Junior Angus members achieve their goals in the show ring, and focus on providing the commercial beef producer with the most profitable bull genetics they can offer.

Zoetis, a global animal health company, sponsored a lunch at which John Ryan Equine Territory Manager, and Sarah Weimer discussed careers in the animal health field.