During a typical May, hundreds of Montana students attend farm fairs across the state. When COVID-19 compelled fair organizers to cancel their in-person events, Montana Farm Bureau Federation launched a virtual farm fair to bring educational, ag-related topics directly to students in their homes.
“When we realized this at-home learning was going to continue, we knew kids wouldn’t be able to participate in farm fairs,” said MFBF’s Promotion & Education Committee Chair Bonita Cremer. “Farm fairs are field trips away from school to find out what’s happening on our farms and ranches. We didn’t want that opportunity to be lost just because we couldn’t invite kids out to the farm.”
Running through the week of May 11, Montana Farm Bureau’s Virtual Farm Fair featured 10 videos from Farm Bureau members’ farms and ranches. Streamed on Montana Farm Bureau’s website and Facebook page, the videos were directed toward a fourth-grade learning level, but appropriate and fun for all ages, even for parents. The videos, along with corresponding activities and lesson plans, covered topics typically addressed at a farm fair, such as honeybees, pulse crops, sheep, ATV safety, branding and homemade ice-cream.
Montana Farm Bureau member Leah Johnson showed the students lambing and sheep care.
“Sharing my sheep with others, particularly during lambing, is one of the highlights of my year,” Johnson said. “Since sharing them in person at a farm fair was not possible this year, participating in the Virtual Farm Fair was a fun way to show my sheep to kids in their homes. Ag education is so important, and I was grateful to be asked to contribute.”
Though the virtual farm fair was promoted in May, when farm fair field trips are typically held, the videos and the related resources are still available on Montana Farm Bureau’s Virtual Farm Fair webpage.