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‘Nittany Nation’ Helps Orchestrate Young Fan’s Birthday Gift

It’s no surprise that Penn Staters are always willing to help each other out when needed most. For Penn State alum Ben Siegfried, one Facebook group of Penn Staters came to his rescue for an upcoming special occasion.

Siegfried’s son, Zach, will be turning 8 years old at the end of this week. As part of his birthday gift this year, Siegfried and his wife wanted to do something special for their son, who is fascinated with finding different places on a map. They reached out to friends, family, and the Nittany Nation Facebook group to send postcards from different states to further this passion.

For his 6th birthday, Siegfried and his wife got Zach a 2×3′ foot map to hang up on a wall. The next year, they bought Zach a light-up globe for his room.

At 3 years old, Zach had a puzzle of the United States that would say the state name and capital when he pressed a button.

“He’s had multiple puzzles of the United States map, so I think that’s kind of gotten him to where he is familiar with the states,” Siegfried said.

Zach is also becoming quite the history buff. According to Siegfried, Zach is interested in the Revolutionary War period, specifically Alexander Hamilton. Siegfried’s wife is a fan of Broadway and got him hooked on the “Hamilton” album.

She came up with the idea to reach out to friends and family who don’t live in or close by the Lehigh Valley area, where they live, to send postcards. Siegfried, who is a moderator for the Facebook group, decided to put his networking skills to use and reach out to fellow Penn Staters.

“There’s people [from] all over the place in ‘Nittany Nation,’ so I thought I’d just throw it out there and the response I got was pretty cool,” Siegfried said.

Courtesy of Ben Siegfried

Zach has already received multiple postcards, including Indiana, Vermont, Florida, Colorado, North and South Carolina, and Ohio. He also received a postcard from Maine, which featured a picture of the state and tourist attractions.

“He made me try to find the [Maine tourist attractions and cities] on the map with him the other day,” Siegfried said. “So he’s really getting excited, you know, and he’s still [four] days away from his birthday…hopefully he’ll keep getting [postcards].”

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Siegfried and his family didn’t get to go on vacation this year. However, he and his wife are using this as a way to help Zach continue to learn.

“I think this is more of a COVID type of deal because we didn’t get to go on vacation this year,” Siegfried said. “This is kind of a way of bringing something to him so he can still learn.”

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Sadly, Mackenzie graduated from Penn State in 2022. She majored in English and served as one of Onward State's associate editors. You can keep up with her life and send compliments to @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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