Virtual field trips to soybean farms offered to students

Starting this spring, students who have never had a chance to investigate a soybean field will get the chance to do it — all without having to leave the comfort of their own classroom.

With just an internet-connected computer, webcam and microphone, students of all ages can join their classes on a Virtual Field Trip to an Ohio Soybean Farm, and ride along with a farmer during planting and harvesting. They can see what it takes to produce one of Ohio’s most abundant and versatile crops.

Using live video conferencing technology, these one-of-a-kind virtual field trips, provided through the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC), allow students to interact and have real conversations with soybean farmers while the farmer is actually working in the field.

“These new trips help students learn more about soybean production: how they are planted, how they grow, what benefits they provide, and the challenges Ohio soybean farmers face and the decisions they must make,” said Tom Fontana, OSC’s director of research and education. “Classrooms participating in the program will enjoy a memorable, engaging and fun learning experience that will bring students closer to a soybean farm than ever before.”

Spring virtual trips will focus on planting, with farmers slated to host live conversations with students from equipment in the fields. Elementary students will learn the basics of planting, germination and life cycles, while conversations with middle and high school students will focus on GMOs, soil health and precision agriculture.

Fall virtual field trips will focus on harvesting. Elementary students will learn about combines, equipment and the storage and transportation of soybeans. Middle and high school students will learn about global trade, nutrient management and water quality.

The virtual field trips are tailored to specific grade levels, with special attention toward helping teachers meet Ohio education standards.

“I am excited about the opportunity to participate in these virtual field trips,” said Allen Armstrong, a Clark County soybean farmer volunteering to host virtual field trips through the program. “This is a chance to help Ohio students better understand agriculture.”

Scott Metzger, a Ross County soybean farmer, will also host virtual trips to his farm. The two farmers will give students an inside look at modern agriculture and answer their questions during live question-and-answer sessions.

“With budgets and safety concerns curtailing field trips at many schools, this project allows us to bring an increasingly rare form of education to a broad spectrum of students across the state,” Fontana said. “Students will have a chance to ask real questions and get real answers from an Ohio farmer.”

The virtual field trips are part of a larger effort to educate both teachers and students about modern agriculture. OSC’s education website, GrowNextGen.org has classroom curriculum, e-learning courses and career videos — all designed to educate the “next generation” of consumers and generate interest in agriculture careers.

For more information, or to register for a Virtual Field Trip to an Ohio Soybean Farm, visit GrowNextGen.org/virtual-field-trips, or contact Jeanne Gogolski at jeanne@educationprojects.org or 614-226-4595.

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