Pennsylvania’s K-12 students are gearing up for the virtual 2021 Pennsylvania Farm Show, which they will be attending between Jan. 9th and 16th. This year’s show involves daily Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) demonstrations and activities that the students can do at home, including a presentation that shows how plastics can be made from hemp.
These students will be learning, at a school-sanctioned event, about hemp as a sustainable material. This is big news in the hemp industry because it shows just how much attitudes toward hemp are changing.
“After being banned by federal law for more than 80 years, Pennsylvania’s budding hemp industry is ripe for innovation and holds tremendous promise for the future,” Shannon Powers, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, reportedly told Hemp Grower magazine. “Fiber varieties of hemp promise seemingly endless opportunities for sustainable building materials, bioplastic industrial components, fabrics, and a myriad of other environmentally friendly materials.”
Although some activities at the Pennsylvania Farm Show are aimed at kids, anyone can attend this public event. However, this year’s theme is ‘Cultivating Tomorrow’, which seems very appropriate for the student audience. The goal of this theme is reportedly to help kids understand where their food comes from and maybe even spark the inspiration for some students to go into agriculture or food production careers.
“There are a wide range of career options in STEM fields across Pennsylvania, and agriculture offers an avenue to many of those opportunities,” Acting Education Secretary Noe Ortega said in a press release. “The virtual panels and interactive sessions will provide a variety of educational experiences for learners of all ages — and will also serve as an opportunity to gain a new or restored appreciation for the many ways our agriculture industry benefits the commonwealth.”
During the show, younger students can explore a variety of agriculture-based topics by visiting virtual stations. Older students and adults can spend the show attending a variety of live webinars. A press release written by the state’s Department of Agriculture and Department of Education urges teachers to incorporate the Farm Show into their classroom curriculum and even suggests ways to do so.
Topics for the live webinars will include solar energy, food security, pest control, emerging markets, sustainability, biosecurity, and more. Virtual stations will cover raising livestock, organic agriculture, apple production, and plastic recycling, among others. Hands-on activities include water filtration, growing plants from food scraps, tie dying with plants, home hydroponics and others.
The STEM session set to highlight hemp-based bioplastics is scheduled for Jan. 12, but this is not the only place hemp topics appear on the schedule. On Jan. 11, a panel of Pennsylvania Hemp Steering Committee members will explain their vision for the future of the state’s hemp industry. On Jan. 13, a panel will discuss what the state has done so far to build the hemp industry. This event is designed as “A Year in Review for Pennsylvania’s First Farm Bill.”
“Every year, the PA Farm Show offers learning experiences and exposure to a growing field with real-world, rewarding opportunities,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in a press release. “Wherever you are on your career path — whether you’re looking for hands-on learning, career inspiration , or you just want to know more about your food and the challenges facing those who produce it — the 2021 virtual Farm Show will offer opportunities to learn and engage with agriculture and the science, technology, [and] engineering driving it.”