Ag Day helps university stay in touch with its farming roots
It was a challenge they couldn’t resist.
Logan Carleton and Ray Rohrbacker were strolling through the quad at Oregon State University on Tuesday afternoon when the Forestry Club timber sports display caught their eye.
The visiting Klamath Falls high school students peeled off their navy blue FFA jackets, grabbed either end of a two-handed crosscut saw and started ripping through an 18-inch tree trunk.
Club member R.J. Morgan, standing astride the log, egged them on.
“Pull, boys, pull,” the freshman forest engineering major hollered. “You’re almost there!”
After 31 seconds of effort with the misery whip, a bright disk of fresh-cut wood fell to the grass.
It was all part of the fun at Ag Day, an annual exposition put on by the College of Agricultural Sciences. Virtually all of the college’s 27 student clubs had booths at the daylong event, which took place under a brilliant May sun on the grassy quadrangle behind the Memorial Union.
“It’s kind of just letting the ag side of the university come out,” Morgan said.
As a land grant institution in a state with a solid farming and forest products base, OSU places a major emphasis on agriculture. Ag Sciences is one of the largest divisions on the Corvallis campus, with 17 departments and more than two dozen degree programs.
On Tuesday, all aspects of the college were on display, from research to academics to community outreach. But the real focus was on fun as students offered passers-by a chance to try their hand at all manner of ag-related activities.
The Forestry Club had sawing and log-rolling, the Collegiate FFA had dummy steer roping and the Country and Western Dance Club had line dance and Western swing lessons.
Kids queued up to pet the baby ducks at the Poultry Science Club booth, tried their luck with a lariat at the Collegiate FFA dummy steer roping area or transformed themselves into pint-sized cowpokes at a dress-up station stocked with hats, stick horses and plastic six-shooters.
The Dairy Club was selling $1 ice cream, the Young Cattlemen’s Association was grilling up cheeseburgers for $3 and the Food and Fermentation Science Club had a kettle of beer on the boil.
Gabriella DeSimone, a member of Preparing and Exploring Agricultural Careers and the Agricultural Education Club who served on the organizing committee for this year’s Ag Day festivities, said club membership enhances what students learn in the classroom.
“Networking, that would be key,” she said. “But a lot of clubs focus on soft skills (such as teamwork and leadership), something that’s missing a lot lately in potential employees.”
But for many students, the clubs are also about enhancing the social aspects of the college experience.
As a dozen or so newbies learned line dance moves to “Boot Scoot Boogie,” Country-Western Dance Club president Allison Zumwalt said the campus group has exploded in popularity over the last few years.
“We have probably 300 people at all our dances,” Zumwalt said. “It’s kind of ridiculous.”
Club member Wally Waibel said he joined the group after picking up a dance class to fill a gap in his schedule, and it’s become a major part of his social life. Now he goes out dancing several nights a week.
“People realize how fun it is,” he said. “And who wouldn’t want to be a cowboy?”