Two million farms cover America’s rural landscape. Two million may seem like a lot, but the number of farms has declined steadily from a peak 6.8 million farms in 1935. As a result, people are less likely to know where their food comes from, the farmer that produced it, and how it was grown or raised.
Teaching children about agricultural production in Pickaway County opens their eyes to the food and farms that surround them, and reveals potential careers close to home. It deepens their understanding of the environment and conservation, establishes life-long habits of healthy nutrition and builds pride for their community.
In years past, the Pickaway County Farm Bureau and Soil and Water Conservation District have partnered to put on an annual Ag Day event to teach elementary students about agriculture in their community. Partners were unable to hold Ag Day in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“When we were faced with the difficult decision to cancel Ag Day, it was important to the county farm bureau and SWCD to find a creative way to build ag literacy and celebrate agriculture in our community,” said Ivory Harlow, organization director of the Pickaway County Farm Bureau.
VirtualAgDays.com was created to showcase agriculture in Pickaway County. The platform contains videos featuring local farms and a variety of ag topics, such as bees, hogs, soybeans and more. SWCD Education and Outreach Coordinator Katerina Sharp developed curriculum targeting grades 3-5 to support and fortify learning.
“While we weren’t able to have Ag Day in person, we still wanted it to be as interactive as possible. By creating interactive activities online, teachers and students were able to access them anywhere. This was the best way to ensure our curriculum reached our students, whether they were learning in the classroom, at home or hybrid,” said Katerina about the Ag Days curriculum.
Fourth-grade students in four county school districts and two additional school systems received AgMag publications on each topic. New content is published to virtualagdays.com to keep learning fresh and new!
“The students enjoy seeing local farmers and products, every once in a while they even recognize someone! If we can’t go to the fairgrounds and experience Ag Day, at least we can bring it to our classrooms. Students really love the g magazines; they enjoy learning about how agriculture affects our community, country and world. I’ve even had students tell me how much their parents enjoy them!” said Andi Koch, a teacher at Walnut Elementary, Teays Valley School District.
Virtual Ag Days was made possible by the Pickaway County Community Foundation and South Central Power. Virtual Ag Days has been nominated for a 2021 collaboration award from the Ohio Association of Agricultural Educators.
Visit www.virtualagdays.com to learn more.
Ohio Farm Bureau’s mission is working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities. Learn more at ofbf.org.