Over 500 students from 16 schools participated in this spring’s Virtual Field Trips. The VFT program allows students to visit Kansas pig farms from the comfort of their classrooms. Using Zoom, a live video conferencing technology, students are taken inside a pig barn and have the opportunity to talk to a farmer in real time. In addition to the live session, classrooms also receive supplemental educational materials to encourage additional learning.
Two VFTs were hosted this spring by Kaden and Emily Roush, Lebanon, and two were hosted by Michael and Christy Springer, Sycamore.
A few changes have been made to the program, including scheduling sessions according to age groups. Previously the live sessions had participants of all ages.
“High school students, especially, want to ask some of the harder questions that might not be appropriate for younger students,” said Kim Hanke, Director of Communications. “Holding separate sessions was the obvious solution.”
In conjunction with this, new curriculum for secondary classrooms are being developed with the help of the Nebraska Pork Producers Council.
“We were lacking educational materials geared for the high school level to supplement the live tours, so we are trying to fill that gap with this new curriculum.”
Another change to the program includes bringing the tech support in-house in partnership with the Kansas Soybean Commission. KPA had previously used an agency for this work.
Since the program’s inception in Fall 2016, the program has reached over 3,500 students from 85 schools, ages K-12. Four sessions are being scheduled for the fall.
Sponsors for the program include Iowa Pork Producers Association, Kansas Soybean Commission, Kansas Corn Commission, The Pork Checkoff, Frontier Farm Credit and Kansas Foundation for Ag in the Classroom.