Virtual Farm Trips® have reached 1 Million Students
More than 1 million students across the U.S. and three continents have had the opportunity to visit a farm through a Virtual Farm Trips® program since 2015. Virtual Farm Trips is owned and operated by Shift•ology Communication, and programs are offered through partnerships with agricultural organizations to connect students with farms and farmers.
The 1 million student milestone was reached and celebrated during a trip to a central Michigan dairy farm, hosted by United Dairy Industry of Michigan on Oct. 12, which also happens to be “National Farmers Day.”
“The program started with a single pilot trip for Ohio Pork Council in 2015 during which we connected a few classrooms with a pig farmer in real-time,” said Dan Toland, director of virtual experiences at Shift•ology Communication. “We’ve now hosted nearly 400 trips thanks to dozens of partners across the U.S.”
Virtual Farm Trips mitigate farm biosecurity and school budgetary issues and allow students to visit farms and talk with a farmer in real time to learn about agriculture in their region and others.
“This collaboration has allowed students in inner cities, suburban areas and rural districts, to experience first-hand the reality of modern farms and food production even when arranging in-person visits is increasingly difficult,” said Melanie Wilt, founder and CEO of Shift•ology Communication.
Instead of scripted, pre-recorded and highly edited videos, Virtual Farms Trips focuses on interactive, live experiences that directly connect audiences with real farmers.
“Virtual Farm Trips has provided an opportunity for our partners and their farmers to tell their stories in the most authentic, unscripted way possible,” said Toland.
“Students are able to connect with farmers in their boots, fields, equipment and barns on their actual farms,” said Toland. “No two trips are ever the same.”
Virtual Farm Trips has reached 1 million students thanks to partner hosts and teachers who choose to participate with their classrooms. Nearly 24,000 teachers nationwide have signed up to receive email notifications when new trips are available in their state or regions for their students to attend.
“Right now a single Virtual Farm Trip reaches over 2,000 students on average,” said Toland. “However, we’ve reached as many as 40,000 students at one time.”
A diverse array of farms and businesses across the spectrum of agriculture and natural resources have been covered ranging from traditional large-scale livestock and commodity farms, to smaller, niche and specialty operations like mushrooms and even a yak farm.
Shift•ology provides a technical and logistical framework to help each partner build a custom Virtual Farm Trips program.
Alex Miller, virtual engagement manager at Shift•ology works to, “take care of the behind-the-scenes technology and coordination so that organizations and farmers can focus on sharing their story.”
“Public relations and agricultural literacy can be hard to measure, so we celebrate this milestone knowing we have made a difference in the lives of a million students and American consumers,” said Wilt. “It’s been a thrill to have a front row seat to see one of the biggest innovations in agricultural communication in the last two decades take root.”
Visit virtualfarmtrips.com to sign-up for upcoming trips, watch past trips on the on-demand portal or learn more about the program’s partners. Learn more about partnering with Virtual Farm Trips to reach the next million students at virtualfarmtrips.com/partnership-information.
Shift•ology Communication is a full-service agency that specializes in storytelling, virtual experiences and PR counsel for agriculture, education and healthcare. The agency was founded in 2008 and is based in Springfield, Ohio. To learn more, visit www.shift-ology.com.