This type of learning opportunity has been in high demand due to the school closures, so many farms have been participating in the trips as live streams, according to Melanie Wilt, whose company Shift-ology conducts the virtual farm tours.
Ohio schools closed in March and students switched to distance learning as part of the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
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“Our traditional method of delivery has been from the farm to the classroom, but since schools have embraced distance learning for the last eight weeks, we have quickly pivoted to a live streamed option that allows students, families and the general public to connect with the farm trips, as well as promoting the sessions to teachers to assign for virtual learnings,” Wilt said. “The teachers have found this highly valuable and have requested additional experiences to help in their efforts to give students quality context that fits the curriculum.”
During the tours, students connect with a farmer.
“They generally get a guided tour, see inside the barns, outside the barns, and maybe even meet a farm dog or kid along the way. They sometimes experience milking cows, a live birth of baby piglets, or whatever else may be happening on the farm that day,” Wilt said.
Jennings said a link is provided to all students so they can join the tour and discussion.
“As the producer gives a tour and explanation of the operation, students can submit questions that then get passed along to the producer. It’s as close to being actually on the farm and face-to-face with the producer as you can without actually being there,” he said.
The trips were a great experience before the coronavirus, but it is more valuable now that distance learning has taken place, Jennings said.
The live streams can be viewed at virtualfarmtrips.com.
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