Block And Bridle Club Welcomes All To Experience Agriculture
Founded in 1924, the Penn State chapter of the Block and Bridle club has worked to provide new experiences outside of the classroom to students with an interest in agriculture. The club is led by Dr. Dan “Doc” Kniffen, Ben “Coach” Williamson, Dr. Ed Mills, Christ Grant, and President Austin Brown.
“Our goal is to serve animal science in whatever capacity possible,” Brown said.
The club emphasizes four species of animals: beef cattle, horses, swine, and sheep.
Block and Bridle keeps its 40-plus members busy during the year with service opportunities as well as travel opportunities. The clubs hosts an annual canned food drive, an AGBA registered goat show, a blood drive, and a judging contest in the springtime for 4-H and FFA members across the state.
The club has some very unique service projects. One of these events includes mare grooming. Members of Block and Bridle head to the horse barns and brush the horses taking residence there. This not only allows members to have some fun, but also is a big help to the horse facilities.
Block and Bridle is also a proud supporter of the Vampire Bats that live at the Philadelphia Zoo. Following the meat-processing cycle, members collect blood from the beef and sheep barns that are then prepared for the bats and sent to Philadelphia where the bat colony has been thriving.
In addition to brushing horses and collecting blood, members help with the annual bull sale at Penn State. In preparation for the sale, members spend time clipping the bulls. They can also be spotted helping in the arena during the actual sale.
With all of the opportunities given to Block and Bridle members, what the club hopes to promote is hands-on experience. In the past few years, the club has seen a rise in members that don’t necessarily have an agricultural background.
“The neat thing about it is the students that have a good background have that opportunity to work with students that are not as experienced with livestock or don’t have that background but may be interested in going in a career in that direction,” Kniffen said.
One way that Block and Bridle tries to promote the animal science industry to the students of Penn State is hosting the Little International Showmanship Show. This show allows students from anywhere to have their hand at showing livestock while gaining knowledge about the farms surrounding campus.
The club sees a lot of travel between conventions for agricultural breed associations and the national Block and Bridle convention held each year. Members of the club compete in the Northeastern Student Affiliate (NESA) quiz bowl where their knowledge of the agricultural industry is put to the test. They have been one of the top competitors at the NESA Quizbowl competition in the past.
Overall, Block and Bridle at Penn State hopes to promote a fun environment where each member can find their passion.
“Everyone is involved in agriculture whether they necessarily know it or not. It could be the roads you drive on or the animals you eat or the clothes you wear,” member Blair Steele said. “Our clubs sponsors finding your place in the industry,”
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After a fundraising year that included no canning and banned events outside of State College, THON 2020 culminated with the announcement that $11,696,942.38 had been raised For The Kids.
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