Farm and Home Day at Elk Lake High School is equal parts social, educational, and promotional as the Penn State Extension helps to connect rural Susquehanna County residents with the resources they need to live healthy, productive lives. It will be held this year on Monday, April 18. Lunch is free at Susquehanna County Farm and Home Day, but registration is required by April 11.
The 32nd annual Susquehanna County Farm and Home Day will be held at Elk Lake High School on Monday, April 18, from 10 am to 3:30 pm. The event returns in an in-person format with an enhanced focus on all things rural that fall under the umbrella of the Penn State Extension educators.
“We realized that we weren’t reaching many of the rural residents that aren’t necessarily involved in farming. We can continue to provide access to resources for ag producers while also connecting home owners and rural renters with information that can make their lives healthier and give them more tangible connections to country living,” Mark Madden, Extension client relations manager said of the event that had been called Dairy Day and Ag Day in previous years. “An underlying purpose of the inclusion is to foster ‘ag-literacy,’ a never-ending effort of ours and many other organizations like PA Farm Bureau. Moreover, if we can bring the farm community together with their consumers, so much the better.”
Farm and Home Day is open to the general public at no cost, but registration is required to help vendors prepare for the event. There is plenty of space in the school for businesses, farm and health fair exhibitors and sponsors to meet and greet visitors. An accurate count is also needed to ensure that there are enough free lunches, which are sponsored by Coterra Energy, Inc. Lunch in the school’s cafeteria is a much-anticipated social event that shouldn’t be missed.
“Everybody loves something that’s free, but Farm and Home Day lunch is much more than that,” said Susquehanna County commissioner Betsy Arnold. “It’s about seeing their neighbors and getting together and hearing what’s going on in the community.”
Arnold grew up just a mile from the Elk Lake campus and was active in both Susquehanna County 4-H and Susquehanna County Dairy Promotion, for which she once served as a Dairy Princess. She has attended every year, most often with her father, Richard, who passed away last year. Like many life-long county residents, he had became more involved with Ag Day as a grandfather of 4-H members. “It’s a high-energy day. I get energy from it,” Arnold related. “It’s a big day for the county, and I’m grateful to Penn State that they are still holding it.”
Classes and demonstrations throughout the day will cover a wide range of topics like pond and lake management, commercial and residential pesticide use, gardening, forestry, agritourism, cattle management and safety on the farm and in the home. 4-H members will be on hand with displays, and members of the Dairy Promotion team will mingle with guests and dole out some tasty treats.
“They will set up a station where they have free ice cream from Manning Farm Dairy,” said Evie Goff, chairperson of the Dairy Princess and Promotion program. “They are also very involved in the pie contest and pie auction. They either bake a pie themselves or find someone to bake a pie.”
Youths are encouraged to get involved in the pie contest, Goff explained, because the proceeds from the pie auction are split evenly between 4-H and Dairy Promotion to support their respective programs. Commissioner Arnold noted that representatives of the natural gas industry have made the auction a bit of a contest in itself by bidding up pies to hundreds of dollars each. “That’s great for the kids, of course,” she stated.
Like Arnold, Goff has been involved with the event from the beginning, first as a part of the Penn State Extension team and, for the past 20 years, with Dairy Promotion. “There’s so many vendors of a large variety. There’s something there for everyone,” Goff remarked. “There’s so many interesting workshops provided by the cooperative extension. We hope that they attend at least one of them.”
“There are lots of opportunities to learn new things that day,” Sarah Welch, administrative assistant for the Susquehanna County Penn State Extension office, concurred. “The Master Gardeners always have tremendous turnout at their workshops. And everyone wants to learn about their well water and pond and lake management.”
Additional workshop topics range from dairy cattle management and hydroponics to entrepreneurship and economic and community development. Several workshops also offer credits for ag producers to keep up with various certifications, including pesticide use, invasive plants, and general crop protection.
4-H educator SaraRae Sisson looks at the new event date as an opportunity to promote 4-H to youths who haven’t been able to attend in previous years. “In the past, Ag Day was always held on an Elk Lake Schools in-service day, so the Elk Lake 4-H kids could always be there,” she explained. “Being the Monday after Easter, I’m hoping that we will have more youth from the county there so we can market the program to them.” Though still in the planning stages, Sisson intends to conduct some sort of make-and-take plant science activity for youths. There will also be some prizes and giveaways for both kids and adults.
Interested readers can register for Farm and Home Day online at https://extension.psu.edu/susquehanna-county-farm-and-home-day or by calling 877-345-0691. Deadline for registration is April 11.
Susquehanna County Dairy Promotion team members hosted a trivia game for families who attended Ag Day in 2020.
Susquehanna County commissioner Alan Hall helps with pie judging in 2020.