URBANA, Ill. — Locals mark their calendars months in advance for the Vet Med Open House at the University of Illinois, but now there’s another reason to head south of campus Oct. 2. Kids and families are invited to the first-ever Crop Sciences Harvest Open House to explore all things agriculture.
Hosted by the Department of Crop Sciences and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at U of I, Harvest Open House will feature interactive exhibits, activities, and eats for all ages. The full lineup of activities is still being finalized, but visitors can look forward to sampling salsa from produce grown on the Sustainable Student Farm; learning popcorn genomics while enjoying the buttery treat; planting herbs to bring home; seeing biological control of pest insects in action; pumpkin and face painting; touch-a-tractor (and other farm equipment); and much more.
“We want to expose kids to agriculture at an early age, show them there’s a lot more to it than they might think. Get kids interested in something when they’re young, something interactive, then maybe that’s the career choice they’ll make later in life,” says organizer and crop sciences office manager Linda Harvey.
Adam Davis, head of the Department of Crop Sciences, adds, “Fall harvest is a busy time on our research farms, and a good time to use them as a living classroom. We invite the community to come visit and experience innovations in agricultural sciences.”
Between the games and snacks, visitors will learn today’s agriculture doesn’t fit old stereotypes. It means developing sustainable, regenerative systems to ensure an abundant food supply and a healthy environment; melding computer science and crop science to leverage big data generated by precision agriculture systems; breeding climate-adapted crops for a changing world; developing smart tools to battle weeds and pests that threaten food and fuel security; and so much more.
Harvest Open House attractions will be located at the Agronomy Seed House at 2102 S. Wright St. in Urbana, just down St. Mary’s Road from the Vet Med Open House. The events run concurrently, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 2. The event overall is free, but some activities and food may incur fees.
— University of Illinois ACES