KIMBERLY, Idaho — Serious research hums along daily at the University of Idaho’s Kimberly Research and Extension Center, but the research farm will take on a festive air July 20 when it hosts its biannual Twilight Tour.
Open to the public, the tour will feature not only current research at the center but all things ag in the region. The tour will be packed with activities and displays, family fun and an opportunity to visit with University of Idaho faculty and staff.
The theme of this year’s event is “Growing Knowledge for Growing Food.”
“It is an opportunity for us to showcase some of the research and extension projects related to increasing our knowledge about growing food that are taking place across Southern Idaho,” said Don Morishita, superintendent of the research center.
The free event will take place from 5 to 8 p.m., complete with music, games, wagon rides and a beef dinner.
“We try to make it a family event with things kids can do and look at,” he said.
One attraction returning to this year’s tour is the insect “petting zoo,” with live and pinned insects, some involved in current research.
The event will also feature a 6-foot-deep, transparent soil pit, with soil scientists explaining the characteristics of the area’s soil.
In addition, UI entomologist Erik Wenninger will perform with his band, The Barking Owls, and UI mascot Joe Vandal will be on hand for fun and photos.
Interactive displays, exhibits and field tours will include information on potatoes, wheat, barley, sugar beets, dry beans, plant diseases, insects, weeds, nutrient management, water conservation and management, aquaculture, food preservation, nutrition and 4-H.
Wagons will traverse the experiment station, stopping at research plots, where researchers will explain what’s taking place, Morishita said.
“It’s an opportunity to show taxpayers, the public, our research activities,” Morishita said.
“It’s also an opportunity for potential UI students and their families, as well as current UI students and alumni, to learn more about what is going on at their university,” he said.
UI President Chuck Staben, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Dean Michael Parrella, Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station Director Mark McGuire and Extension Director Barbara Petty all plan to attend.
Forty to 50 people from the university will attend, including 15 to 20 faculty members representing different areas of study, ag-related and others, he said.
It’s a chance for prospective students to ask questions and get connected with people on campus, he said.
An alumni group will be in attendance, and the research team invites all alumni to take part and connect with other former Vandals and the university’s alumni association, he said.
The 2014 event drew more than 500 agricultural and non-agricultural stakeholders, and this year’s event is expected to draw 600, he said.