This fall, over 1,000 students from 25 schools visited Kansas pig farms from the comfort of their classrooms. Using Zoom, a live video conferencing technology, kids were taken inside a pig barn and had the opportunity to talk to a farmer in real time.

The Kansas Pork Association launched the virtual field trip program in October and hosted four sessions in an effort to promote learning about agriculture.

“Many kids have no connection to farming and we believe it’s important for them to learn about where their food comes from,” said Kim Hanke, Director of Communications. “It’s also a good way to allow for transparency in the pig farming industry.”

During the virtual field trip, students learned about how pigs are cared for, the technology used in barns, farrowing and more. At the end of the session, students were given the opportunity to ask the farmer questions.

“Kids love being able to talk to the farmer, as well as being able to see the other classrooms that are participating. Making that personal connection with the farmer will hopefully leave a lasting impression with students,” Hanke said.

In addition to the virtual field trip, KPA also sends supplemental education materials to teachers to encourage additional learning beyond the 45-minutes virtual session.

“My husband Kaden and I were so excited to be able to participate in the virtual field trip,” said Emily Roush, who farms with her husband Kaden near Lebanon. “It is an amazing opportunity to bring pig farming to life for students and their teachers.”

Pre- and post-event surveys were sent to the teachers, and positive shifts in attitude were made in regards to animal welfare, environmental effects of raising animals and knowledge about pig farming.

“The reason we were so eager to help is because if we don’t help bridge the gap between producers and consumers, someone else will with false information. This program is a great opportunity to take the first step with our younger generation,” Roush said.

Other farmers who participated this fall included Roy Henry, Longford; and Michael and Christy

Springer, Sycamore. The Kansas Soybean Commission, The Pork Checkoff, Kansas Foundation for Ag in the Classroom and Cargill were sponsors for the 2016 sessions.

Four more tours are currently being scheduled for the 2017 spring semester. For information on having your farm participate, contact the KPA office at 785-776-0442.

Students take virtual field trips to Kansas pig farms