At a time when transportation, logistics, safety and security concerns make it difficult for old-fashioned field trips to the farm, the Ohio Beef Council is making it easy for teachers to bring their students as close as they can by piloting a series of virtual field trips to Ohio beef farms this fall.
With just an internet-connected computer, webcam and microphone, Ohio middle school and high school students throughout the state will be virtually transported to Ohio beef farms and connected with real beef farmers for an experience that can’t be found in the classroom or in a book.
“Virtual field trips give students who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity, to see first-hand how farmers care for their cattle and how food is produced in Ohio,” said Cambell Parrish, director of public relations and consumer marketing for the Ohio Beef Council. “These students are doing more than just learning; they are experiencing what it’s like to be on a beef farm.”
Using live videoconferencing technology, the handful of Ohio cattle farmers participating in the pilot program are virtually opening the barn doors and creating memorable, engaging and positive experiences for students, from the inner city to the most rural areas. The virtual field trips allow them to reach significantly higher number of students and in a more efficient manner than standard field trips.
With consumers becoming increasingly concerned with how their food is going from pasture to plate, these virtual field trips give students the inside scoop. Likewise, farmers can help students and teachers better understand the industry through live questions and conversations during the virtual field trips.
“Down the road, these students will all be consumers, and some may be the next generation caring for Ohio cattle,” said Parrish. “The best way to ensure they’re prepared for either role is to be transparent and offer opportunities to show them exactly how it’s done. These virtual field trips give everyone the chance to understand and learn more about beef farming.”