Recently, the Ohio Pork Council's (OPC) “Virtual Field Trip to an Ohio Pig Farm” program has received national attention, being featured in many major media outlets.

Classrooms across Ohio have been taking virtual tours of pig farms since 2015, and that opportunity is now spreading throughout the Midwest.

The program, started by the Ohio Pork Council in partnership with Farm Credit Mid America, allows students who may have never experienced a farm to participate in a live video tour and chat with an Ohio pig farmer, learning what it takes to raise pigs.

Tom Graham of Frazeysburg; Neil Rhonemus of Lynchburg; Lauren Schwab of Somerville; and Jeff Wuebker of Versailles are among the farmers who have hosted virtual field trips to their farms with classrooms from all corners of the state and everywhere in between.

During the virtual field trip, a farmer gives a tour of their barns, sharing how pregnant sows, piglets and growing pigs are cared for. Veterinarians and farm workers sometimes join in to share their perspectives with students, who are invited to submit questions to the farmer ahead of the live session and to ask directly to the farmer via live video chat.

Since the program’s launch, a growing list of 88 schools with a total of 3,330 students have signed up for the virtual field trips, which is many more than the farmers conducting the virtual field trips could ever accommodate physically. Countless more have watched previously recorded sessions that are available on OPC’s YouTube channel, which have recorded over 2,200 views.

The success of the program hasn’t gone unnoticed by OPC’s peers. Starting in April, the Wisconsin Pork Association began hosting virtual field trips , connecting classrooms in the Badger State with Ohio farmers, with a goal of bringing Wisconsin farmers on board in the future.

Kansas pig farmers will also be firing up their mobile devices as the Kansas Pork Association replicates the program. KPA’s first live session will be in front of more than 100 Kansas teachers at a workshop in June.

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