Saturday, May 16, 2015

#PSUAgEd2Miss: Day 4- MSU Bulldog Pride and Mantachie Mustang Motivation

Editor's note: This is a continuing series on our third annual Teach Ag! Society Domestic Study Away to Mississippi to help with financial literacy and supervised agricultural experience.

Day 4 - We started off the day by leaving our hotel in Columbus (MS) bright and early at 7 a.m. for another adventure filled day.  The Teach Ag! Society began the tour by visiting the Dairy Barns at Mississippi State University (MSU). As that Pennsylvania is one of the top dairy states in the nation, this tour gave us the opportunity to expand our knowledge on how others run their dairy operations. During our tour, we observed a Mississippi State University Veterinarian palpating and had the opportunity to learn about the unique (to us!) practice of using alfalfa in their total mixed rations!
After the Dairy Barns, we made our way down the road to the Veterans Memorial Rose Garden. We spoke with the director of the gardens, learning about the history of the garden and future plans. This one rose garden contains over 300 different types of roses that are being managed with little to no pesticide usage.

A fascinating part of the tour was seeing a new tea research project. A MSU Graduate Researcher decided to experiment with some 'organic' ways to control weeds in tea fields, and that is where the geese come in. Turns out that tea tastes very bitter to geese! When released into tea fields, they eat the weeds and grasses around the tea plants, but not the crop itself. This is the first time MSU has turned the geese out into the new Tea test plots and the University is pleased with the progress being made even though they've had these young goslings for just under six weeks.

The last part of our tour consisted of us visiting with the School of Human Sciences Department at MSU. We were given information about all of the programs offered in the Human Sciences Department, which included Agricultural Sciences and Fashion Design (just to name a few). Our group was also given the opportunity to discuss each major in the department with a few of the staff. We ended our time at MSU over lunch with a discussion on the Agricultural & Extension Education major and how it paralleled to the program offered at Penn State.

Now you might be saying wait, back up, Fashion Design and Agricultural Sciences are housed together? That is correct, the instructor for Fashion Design spoke with us about the reasoning and shared a passion, which is communicating with students the importance of farmers to their industry. He also spoke about the importance of communicating to farmers how crucial the fashion industry is to their production practices and profits, particularly highlighting the cotton crops grown around the state. Though an unusual pair at first, you cannot dispute the logic of the two areas working together for agricultural awareness.

Next we boarded the vans and began travelling the 2 hours to Mantachie High School for our final school visit. The large group of students was very willing to share their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) knowledge with us along with learning some ways to incorporate accurate recordkeeping through the Agricultural Experience Tracker (AET).

Once we finished our lesson, we made our way to tour the Agricultural Education program at Mantachie High School. The two-teacher program offered rather interesting classes, two of which were Meats and Forestry. You could tell, from the minute you set foot in the room that there was pride in everything that they do. There was not a single wall in the building that did not have an award hanging on it. Both of the agricultural teachers showed a passion and dedication to the program and the community. 

This concluded our SAE programming across the state, a challenging endeavor that has not only provided those who attended and participated (students, teachers, parents) with some small knowledge, but has positively impacted each of the Penn State Domestic Study Away participants.

Submitted by:

Deanna Miller, 2015 Graduate, @Deannapsu15

Samantha Sessamen, 2016 Student Teacher, @smsessamen

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