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.
Deanna Miller, 2015 Graduate, @Deannapsu15
Samantha Sessamen, 2016 Student Teacher, @smsessamen