Another February, another PASA conference! For the first time in 28 years, the conference was located in Lancaster, PA instead of State College- but that didn’t stop Student Farm’s Youth Education team from traveling out to lead a Future Farmer’s classroom, meet other Pennsylvania farmers, and learn more about what’s happening in the world of sustainable agriculture around the state and country.

From February 7 to 9, the Student Farm team led students through curriculum based around the themes of living green, ecosystems and the lifestyle of a seed. Children grades three through five were immersed in classroom activities including crafts, videos, interactive games and even a few special guests!  

Sienna McNett and Katie Leite, leaders of the Youth Education project team, were happy to once again attend the conference. 

“We love PASA and were thrilled that they asked us to come out to Lancaster and continue our involvement this year. It’s a huge learning experience for us, but we also get to touch the lives of children who are interested in these topics,” said Leite, a Junior studying Neuropsychology and Global Health. “By fostering their interests at this age, I think it really solidifies the different things that they see their parents, who are mostly farmers, doing every day.”

Among the Future Farmer’s favorite activities were a recycling relay race, a visit from local artist Donna Mays who led a leaf watercolor craft and face painting, and morning yoga. They also were able to engage in discussions centered around plant diseases, watersheds, pollination, and ecosystem sustainability.  

Chef Mike Abate of the Pocono Supper Club also paid the classroom a visit for the second year in a row, reading a book about local foods and making a rice soup using vegetable scraps.

McNett, a senior studying Biology and Psychology, was happy to be able to fill her last semester at Penn State with the conference yet again. “After four years at PASA, I am still excited by how much fun our elementary schoolers have learning about topics that equally excite our club members. Whether it’s the microbiome or taking care of our watersheds, our teachers work hard to create hands-on lessons and make the complex topic relevant to the kiddos. I have learned so much through this experience and hope that our partnership can continue in the years to come!”, McNett said of her experience at the 2019 conference.

Another successful year volunteering at PASA is in the books, and the Student Farm Youth Education team is already excited for next year’s conference. Despite the location change, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture was able to yet again put together an amazing conference, which connected the Student Farm at Penn State to other like-minded individuals and allowed them to impact the lives of young people.