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From ‘Awww’ Animals to Agri-tech

At the Maryland State Fair, UMD Carries on a Land-grant Learning Mission

By Karen Shih ’09

Students with robot

University of Maryland Extension-sponsored 4H students participate in an annual robotics competition at the Maryland State Fair.

All photos by Edwin Remsberg

Look past the funnel cake and carnival rides at the Maryland State Fair, and you might see student-built robots that aim to plant and harvest oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. Or learn why your flowers aren’t thriving from a gardening guru. Or watch a whole litter of piglets being born.

Those are just some of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ programs on display to demonstrate the breadth of its research and outreach. That includes its research herd of dairy cows—including 2-week-old calf Rosie, who was named during the fair—getting milked on-site facing off against bovine competitors; the birthing center, which gives fairgoers a chance to see the birth of piglets, calves and chicks; and the U-Learn Barn, which teaches kids about where their food comes from and what crops are grown in the state.

The University of Maryland Extension in particular has a high profile at the fair. This year, its 4-H youths took part in the annual robotics competition, which had an aquaculture focus, as well as a “Top Chef”-style cooking competition and a research showcase. Extension Master Gardeners were on hand at their ever-popular booth to display native plants and offer tips on home horticulture.

Check out AGNR’s activities over the first two weekends of the fair—and head up to Timonium this weekend before the fair ends on Sunday!

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