SYRACUSE, N.Y. — More than 30,000 students recently tuned into American Dairy Association North East’s three live virtual farm tours and asked the host farmers nearly 500 questions in real time.
Adam Bates of Stauffer Farms in North Lawrence, N.Y., spoke to 4,800 middle and high school students; Emilie Mulligan of Mulligan Farm in Avon, N.Y., hosted 9,200 elementary students; and Ed Facer of Star Rock Farm in Conestoga, Pa., hosted an additional 16,400 elementary students.
“Our virtual farm tour program continues to grow with more than 430,000 views since we started in 2018, and we strive to keep improving so the tours are more accessible and educational to continue to build trust in dairy,” said ADA North East CEO Rick Naczi. “We’re fortunate to have dairy farmers who are willing to host the tours so that students can make the connection with those who are producing the milk and dairy products they enjoy at school and at home.”
ADA North East invited a reporter from the Auburn Citizen in Auburn, N.Y., to watch the Mulligan Farm tour with a classroom of kindergarteners at the Herman Avenue Elementary School.
“Our class had an opportunity to travel to a farm without leaving our classroom,” the class’s teacher Meg Gremli told the reporter. “The kids loved seeing the cows and really have an understanding, even at a young age, that the animals are well taken care of and that transpires to the products that we get are good and healthy for us.”
“They had such great questions, and it was fun to be able to answer them in real time throughout the tour,” said Mulligan. “I really enjoy helping people understand where their food comes from and being able to tell them what I do on the farm every day.”
Also, WIVB-TV in Buffalo made an appearance at Herbert Hoover Elementary School in Buffalo, N.Y., to highlight the Mulligan virtual farm tour.
“Participating dairy farmers are often surprised at how little effort the tours take on their parts, and always find it to be a positive experience,” said Naczi. “Our staff helps them prepare their talking points prior to the tour, runs the video cameras onsite, and fields the questions from the viewers.”
“I enjoyed doing the virtual farm tour and would definitely do it again in the future,” said Adam Bates, a two-time tour host. “I encourage other farmers to host tours because it’s not a huge time commitment to prepare and this format with just a few people onsite makes it easy to be comfortable.”
“Hosting the farm tour was a great experience and is a really convenient way to show what we do on the farm to a large group of students,” said Ed Facer, who hosted a tour for the first time.
Facer also conducted several media interviews with Harrisburg media prior to the farm tours to garner more interest in the program.
–American Dairy Association North East