Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Down on the Farm: Enjoy Rutgers Ag Field Day this Saturday!

Till now, every Hidden New Jersey entry has highlighted a visit that I've made to a notable location in the state, either with Ivan or on my own. Today I'm breaking with that tradition (tradition? This blog is barely four months old!) so you have the benefit of being able to check out an event I believe no proud New Jerseyan should miss: Ag Field Day at Rutgers' Cook College* campus in New Brunswick, to be held this Saturday, April 30. It's the day when our state university's agriculture and bioscience school opens the doors of the livestock barns and earth science labs for some hands-on introduction to our state's ecology and more.

I've been going to Ag Field Day for nearly 30 years and while some things have changed, many others haven't. Students continue to groom and handle pigs, sheep, cows and more for the livestock judging shows that are held on the morning of the event. You can still stop by the dairy barn to visit the cows, though I never actually got to see the famous fistulated "porthole cow" who by now has gone to the big pasture in the sky. And don't forget to drop by the Food Science Building to get the yummy Food Science ice cream -- probably a total chemical concoction, but a treat, nonetheless. Other Cook College student organizations still gather at Passion Puddle, the campus pond, to educate and raise money. One of my favorites is the Entomology Club, whose members have long offered bug snacks - cookies with real, edible worms baked into them (you don't taste the worm, but its texture leaves something to desire).

Some Cook students take
their studies very seriously,
like Buzz here.
In the time since I graduated, more of the environmental sciences are represented at the day, as well. Students and professors who study New Jersey's evolving land use will show you around the state by way of satellite imagery. Check out the marine science building to touch some of the state's sea life and learn more about the restoration of the shore ecosystem.

The great thing is that there's something for everyone - students, alumni with young kids, and the rest of us who just like stopping by to enjoy a beautiful spring day on the farm. And if you need a break from science, there's always the New Jersey Folk Festival at Douglass College just a short hike away. This year, the festival will be focusing on the Kalmyk people of Central Asia who have settled in Howell and Paterson. One can only hope that there will be throat singing! A host of folk performers and craftspeople also display their talents, with a wide variety of handmade crafts available for viewing and sale. I always find great jewelry at the booths.

The last Saturday in April was long the day when Cook and Douglass would be the places to be on the Rutgers New Brunswick campus, but that's changed with the introduction of Rutgers Day a few years ago. Now the whole university gets into the act with activities and fun on all of the Middlesex County campuses. If you have enough energy after wandering through Ag Field Day and Folk Festival, take the campus bus over to College Ave or the Busch campus to find out what they have to offer. There's always something fun and interesting, and at the very least, you can visit the President's office at Old Queens (the administration building, not the bar on Easton Ave.).

Check it out, and maybe head to Stuff Yer Face afterward. I might just see you there!

*Nitpickers will tell you that it's no longer Cook College, it's the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University, but "SEBS" doesn't quite cut it as a name. And I happen to believe that George Cook is a personage worthy of continued recognition. But I digress... as will many other alumni of a certain vintage who've enjoyed Ag Field Days for lo these many years.

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