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Beef Checkoff Takes Youth on Virtual Field Trips
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 05/22/2019

Students from Pennsylvania and the Northeast had the opportunity to virtually tour a beef feedlot on Wednesday, April 24th, learned more about beef marketing and gained insight on the geographical difference of raising cattle. The Pennsylvania Beef Council (PBC) and Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative, a subcontractor to the Beef Checkoff (NEBPI), through a partnership with Shift-ology Communications, hosted these one-of-a-kind learning experiences that turned classrooms into a virtual beef farms utilizing Zoom video conferencing technology. With the click of a mouse, students were transported to farm fields, viewed animals and feedstuff live, and learned more about how food is raised in Pennsylvania. These field trips showcased what farmers do each day to care for their cattle. Students even had the ability to chat live several members of the beef community, like Frank Stoltzfus and Scotty Miller of Masonic Village Farm, Dan Honig, owner of Happy Valley Meat Company, Amy Hess of Bow Creek Farm and Cattle Company and Sallie Miller of Croissant Red Angus during live Q&A sessions.

Sixteen schools from across the region tuned in to view the virtual beef field trips live and asked many engaging questions regarding the beef lifecycle, what cattle eat, etc. The live field trips had a combined reach of 200 students. Recorded versions of all three field trips were distributed to an additional 167 classrooms, with a reach of 2,500 students who could not be present. Kaitlyn Carey, Director of Consumer Affairs with the PBC noted, "This video conferencing technology gave us the ability to share the real-life behind beef within Pennsylvania and the Northeast with a large group of students across our region. We are very excited to see the continued reach and impact of these videos across our Beef & Veal in the Classroom Program. Without this technology we would not be able to offer this type of experience to students."

The PA Beef Council would like to extend a sincere thank you to the beef producers who opened the gate to their farms to make this effort possible. Frank Stoltzfus, Farm Manager at Masonic Village Farm noted, "Over many years, we at Masonic Village Farm, have been able to work with the Pennsylvania Beef Council to help educate people about how beef is produced. Some of the people have been fellow producers and some have been consumers. By doing these live Virtual Classroom Tours, for the first time we have been able to bring students to our farm without leaving their classroom. They were able to see our operation as it operates every day. Maybe the best part of the 3 tours was the Q&A where we were able to answers questions posed directly to us by the students. This program is an excellent way to help inform people about agriculture and for them to see the farm live without a lot of expense."

This virtual tour was made possible by the Pennsylvania Beef Council with funding support from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

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