Ohio pig farmer Lauren Schwab recently welcomed Wisconsin elementary school students to her family’s farm via a virtual field trip, coordinated by the Wisconsin Pork Association. Over 160 third through fifth grade students from across the state participated in WPA’s first virtual field trip. The Virtual Field Trip to a Pig Farm program is sponsored by the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board.
Due to biosecurity concerns, it is difficult to have large groups of students physically entering pig barns. But, through Google Hangouts, a live video chat platform, farmers can virtually open their barn doors to students and share with them the ins-and-outs of being a pig farmer. Students can ask questions and have them answered by the farmer, who is hosting the virtual tour live from his or her barn.
WPA brought the Virtual Field Trip to a Pig Farm concept to Wisconsin based on a current program run by the Ohio Pork Council. To get the Wisconsin program launched WPA is working with farmers in Ohio who already have the required internet connection and audio and visual equipment set up in their barns to conduct the live video chats. In the future, WPA would like to host the virtual field trips from pig farms right here in our state.
The Wisconsin Pork Association plans to continue the Virtual Field Trip to a Pig Farm program into the 2016/2017 school year. Virtual field trips are currently offered to third through fifth grade classrooms and plans are underway to expand the program for high-school classrooms. Any teachers interested in having their classrooms participate should contact Mandy Masters at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wppa.org/fieldtrip to sign up.