The spring of 2020 saw cancellation after cancellation of field trips, in-person events and in-school presentations.

As the spring of 2021 approached, the Ag Committee from the Redwood Area Chamber and Tourism did not want to cancel their 5th Grade Ag Day for a 2nd year in a row. For years, the Ag Committee had organized a 5th Grade Ag Day for students in Redwood and Renville County schools. The typical Ag Day has students visiting 3 livestock farms and learning via station rotations at Gilfillan Farm with over 8 different agriculture presenters. This valuable day educates near 300 students and is meant to provide a connection to local farmers and agriculture.

Ashley Kettner, owner of Split Rock Ranch, shared about their cattle operation and how use rotational grazing to help the herd and the crops they grow.

If the Ag Committee wanted to reach 5th Graders, they needed to pivot their original plan. Learning about Farm Camp MN and their virtual offerings, the Ag Committee reached out to see if Farm Camp could assist in the execution of this event in a virtual setting.

Farm Camp was thrilled to work with an organization that was passionate about local agriculture and educating youth! They teamed up and started working on their first “Virtual 5th Grade Ag Day.” The day would consist of 4 farm tours throughout the day and would engage over 300 5th graders from schools in Redwood and Renville Counties.

How did the Virtual Ag Day work?

Crop farmer, Bruce Tiffany, wanted to connect what he grows with what students know and consume. He showcased products that corn and soybeans are found in and made visual connections to how much a bushel of corn is (bushel basket) and how much he would yield at the end of harvest (grain cart).

Before the Tour:

  1. Educators received the Educator Ag Day Package (lesson plans, ag goodies and pig feed samples were included in the package).
  2. Educators could use the lesson plans provided to increase student knowledge of the ag industries that would be highlighted during the Ag Day virtual tours.
  3. Students took a pre-tour survey to gather base line data about their knowledge of agriculture in their area, in the state and globally.

Day of the Tour:

  1. Tours occurred throughout the school day (see timeline below).
  2. Classrooms jumped in virtually to 4 diverse farm tours.

Virtual 5th Grade Ag Day Agenda

8:45 am Soybean Field — Planting and Technology

10:00 am Livestock Barn — Lambing

12:45 pm Livestock Barn — Swine Farrow to Finish

2:00 pm Cattle Ranch — Pastured-Raised Beef Cattle

Each virtual tour was 30-45 minutes in length. Students were able to ask questions live through the chat feature on Zoom. Farm Camp Program Director, Ann Vote, facilitated each tour and asked pertinent questions as the presenter moved throughout the farm. Each presentation ended with a final Q&A session for students to ask anything they had been curious about during the virtual tour.

Students loved seeing lambs at Jody Bunting’s farm.

Fantastic work on the Virtual 5th Grade Ag Day!! The kids love having the option of asking questions in the chat and hearing the presenters answer “their question”!

Nikki Jorgenson, Westbrook Walnut Grove

How did this Farm Camp connect with agriculture careers?

The Ag Committee and Farm Camp Minnesota worked closely to create a career video that introduced students to local agriculture careers. Within the video, over 12 careers were highlighted to showcase the diversity of jobs in the area. This video was paired with the Career Lesson that was provided to educators to use following 5th Grade Ag Day. Students were able to make connections to how those agriculture careers help their community flourish!

Survey Results

When comparing the pre-tour and post-tour surveys, there was a 20% increase in the amount of students who said they could name 5 agriculture careers in their community. There was also a 26% increase in students who answered they agree to the statement: “I am knowledgeable about farming in Minnesota.” Ag Days like this one have a very positive impact on ag literacy and community connections.

Andrew VanErdan, hog farmer, shared the stages his pigs go through by playing recorded video during his tour and gave a live tour during his presentation. Students were also sent different types of hog feed to touch, smell and investigate during his presentation. This offered an incredibly dynamic learning opportunity for the students (and staff) involved. Pairing in-person experiences with a first-hand presentation from the farmer makes for immense growth in ag literacy.

I think the whole day in general was great! Viewing the farms close up and in parts of the farms the normal person wouldn’t see was a great experience for the kids.

Paul Carlson, Redwood Valley Middle School

If you are curious about how to create a Farm Camp experience like this one, please contact us today! Farm Camp Minnesota serves the whole state and takes great pride in connecting students to agriculture experiences and careers!

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