When school buildings closed early to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Alabama Farmers Federation began offering weekly Virtual Field Trips through Facebook Live.
As parents and their children adjusted to their homes becoming classrooms, the eight Virtual Field Trips were designed to be informative, educational and entertaining. Viewers could tune in Fridays at 10 a.m. on the Federation’s Facebook page from April 6 through May 22.
“It started with a simple request from a friend who was wondering if we knew of a farmer who would be willing to host an online farm tour,” said Federation News Services Director Mary Wilson. “We quickly saw there was great demand for this type of content, and in short order, we had eight farmers representing different commodities who were willing to participate.”
Taber and Grace Ellis hosted the third Virtual Field Trip, focused on beef cattle, at Hickory Hill Farm in Billingsley in Autauga County.
“We were on board with the Virtual Field Trips because we’ve always been big proponents of allowing our farm to be a place where others can come at any time and see what’s going on,” Grace said. “After the event, some of the more meaningful comments actually came from adults who told me they learned something. It’s wonderful that the field trips shaped and molded childrens’ views of farming, but it’s even more exceptional that we educated other adults about our industry.”
Along with the Ellises, field trips covered peanuts and other row crops with Jonathan Sanders of Coffee County; fruits and vegetables with sisters Allie Logan and Cassie Young of Backyard Orchards in Barbour County; honeybees with Geoff Williams of Auburn University’s Bee Lab; catfish with Luke and Lana Smelley of Hale County; green industry nursery with Phillip Hunter of Hunter Trees in Shelby County; forestry with Cheryl Lassiter of Choctaw County; and cotton and other row crops with Garrett Dixon of Lee County.
Meghan Cochrane of Wetumpka said she watched each live event with daughters, first-grader Elliott and pre-K student Brennan.
“My girls and I thoroughly enjoyed the Federation’s Virtual Field Trips,” Cochrane said. “Since we weren’t getting out of the house, it was nice to have something for my girls to do that was so fun and interactive. They still talk about the queen honeybee they saw during the honeybee field trip. It’s amazing how much they learned in just 30 minutes.”
The Virtual Field Trips and related educational activities are available at alfafarmers.org/Virtual-Field-Trip.