Live Virtual Farm Tours Give Students First-Hand Look At Two Dairies

Teachers took the farm to the classroom with American Dairy Association North East’s two new virtual farm tours this fall. The 45-minute real-time video chats showed firsthand how farmers care for the cows, the land and produce high-quality milk for consumers. Students had the opportunity to send questions to the farmers, who answered live.

More than 2,700 elementary students from 90 schools tuned in for a tour hosted by George Andrew of EL-VI Farms, LLC, in Newark, New York.

Seventeen high school classrooms logged in for the tour hosted by Katie Dotterer-Pyle of Cow Comfort Inn in Union Bridge, Maryland, with a total of 370 students.

“With consumers being so far removed from production agriculture, inviting the students to see our farm this way may be the only chance they get to see a real dairy farm,” said George Andrew. “This program is a great use of our checkoff investment because we’re hopefully building a new generation of dairy advocates and milk drinkers.”

Post-tour surveys showed the tours were well received by students and teachers.

Nearly 80 percent of teachers favorably rated their tour at least an 8 on a scale of 10; and more than four out of every five teachers indicated they would recommend the program to fellow teachers or students and would participate in another virtual farm tour.

“It was a compelling experience for both myself and my students,” said Nissa Quill, a teacher from Walkersville Middle School, Walkersville, Maryland, whose high school class participated. “We have a very diverse population – from students who live on farms to those who have never seen a cow in real life. The students watched with 100% engagement.”

Several teachers have also accessed the tours from the ADA North East website, www.AmericanDairy.com, for later viewings.

Additional suggestions were given to enrich the experience for future tours to be offered in March 2019.

“The goal for the virtual farm tours which was to share positive and accurate dairy messaging with teachers and students,” said ADA North East CEO Rick Naczi. “The feedback we received shows we met that goal, and have learned how to create an even stronger program to reach more students and help them make the connection of where their food comes from and how it is produced.”

For more information on the spring virtual tours, contact Emma Andrew-Swarthout at eandrew@milk4u.org.

About American Dairy Association North East

American Dairy Association North East (ADA North East) is the dairy farmer-funded organization funded by participating dairy farmer’s checkoff investment to build demand and sales for milk and dairy foods throughout the local region. Representing nearly 12,000 dairy farm families in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New York, New Jersey and northern Virginia, ADANE develops and implements local programs to drive milk and dairy sales at retail outlets and in schools. The organization also conducts consumer education about dairy through events, traditional and social media, and in collaboration with health professionals through National Dairy Council®. ADA North East works closely with Dairy Management Inc.™, the national dairy checkoff organization, to support nutrition research, national partnerships and developing export markets for dairy to bring a fully integrated promotion program to the region. For more information, visit American Dairy.

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