Penn State's New Student Industry Tour Highlights Agriculture's Diversity

Posted: September 9, 2015

Twenty-five students new to the Department of Animal Science toured agricultural operations and learned about career opportunities.
Students and Faculty at Tubmill Creek Farm on the student industry tour in August.

Students and Faculty at Tubmill Creek Farm on the student industry tour in August.

For sixteen years Penn State's Department of Animal Science has offered a tour of Pennsylvania's agricultural industry designed to introduce students new to the University Park campus and other Commonwealth campuses to the industry's diversity and to career opportunities.

Twenty-five students and four faculty members participated in this year's tour on August 27 which visited Somerset County and saw beef, dairy and veterinary operations.

Dr. Terry Etherton, Head of the Department of Animal Science, said, "Our annual tour has become an important tradition in welcoming students and introducing them to the wide variety of career opportunities within agriculture. The tour is also a way for students to become more knowledgeable about our outstanding student activities that are such a rewarding part of the entire Penn State student experience. " 

Tour organizer Jana Peters, Animal Sciences Advising Coordinator, called the tour a valuable way for students to learn about agriculture, while getting to know other students and faculty. She said, "We are especially appreciative of the hosts who welcome the students and explain their operations while showing them the wider career opportunities that are available in agriculture."

Katie Sondericker, Attica, NY, said, "The tour definitely gave me a better feel for Pennsylvania's agricultural industry, which seems more diverse than where I'm from in New York where there is mostly dairy farming. It was interesting to learn about the beef industry and hear one of the vets talk about working with small ruminants and white-tail deer." As a freshman at the University Park campus, she hadn't known other students so found it helpful to spend the day with students with similar interests and faculty.

For Greg Kowalewski, Forest City, PA, who hails from a dairy farm and hopes to go into herd management, it was eye-opening to tour the 600-milking cow operation at Pennwood Farms. He was impressed with the teamwork necessary to operate the large herd, with dry cows and heifers.  He also appreciated learning about the beef industry and was intrigued by observing a horse surgery at the veterinary clinic. He added, "I made a few new friends and I learned about other career possibilities."  Kowalewski is a sophomore, new to the University Park campus.

Lucas Watson, Exton, PA, said, "I found it very welcoming to be surrounded by other new students that have an interest in animals and a desire to pursue a career in animal science. I thought it was helpful to spend the day with some of the faculty so we could build a relationship with them since they will help us in our future endeavors in the study of animals and agriculture. The industry tour was a great opportunity to see potential undergraduate career paths as well as to make important contacts for the future." A freshman at University Park, he said it was a pleasant bonus to meet Penn State alumni.

Operations visited were:

* Pennwood Farms, Berlin, Somerset County.  Pennwood Farms was begun in 1962 by Harvey and Mary Jane Stoltzfus in Morgantown, and relocated to Somerset County where today they have 1,000 acres of corn, alfalfa and grass hay with a milking herd of 600 cows, milked three times a day. The farm uses an anaerobic digester to generate electricity with the methane that is combusted; the composted solids are used for bedding. Four sons and their families are involved in the operation.

* Laurel Highlands Animal Health, Somerset, a rural mixed animal veterinary practice. A four-doctor practice, they see dogs, cats, dairy and beef cattle, horses, goats, sheep, pigs and whitetail deer. They also offer advanced reproductive services such as embryo flushing/transfers in cows, small ruminants and whitetail deer, as well as laparoscopic artificial insemination in small ruminants and deer and custom semen freezing. They serve clients in seven counties.

* Brown Equine Hospital, Somerset, established by Drs. Keith and Jennifer Brown. They provide haul-in and hospitalization for medical, surgical, emergency and critical care cases. The stable area has five stalls and a treatment area with stocks, with eight additional stalls in the barns. The surgical area consists of a rough prep room, a fully padded induction and recovery stall and a surgical suite.

* Tubmill Creek Farms, New Florence, owned by John and Kittle Goodish with Zeb O'Boyle as farm manager. It is a top-tier cow/calf Limousin seedstock operation , which aggressively breeds, shows and markets elite beef genetics nationally and supports the North American Limousin Foundation's junior program.

Zoetis, a global animal health company, sponsored a lunch at Laurel Summit State Park. Territory Manager Vicki Baker spoke to the group about potential careers in the animal health industry.