AMVC brings sow farm to area classroom

posted on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 in Central Region News

Educating the next generation about where their food comes from is a large task. Most students are visual and auditory learners, where content is best learned when they can hear and see it. However, having a field trip to the farm and hosting students is not a very easy or economical project. Imagine loading a school bus of students, unloading everyone and having them shower into the sow farm and finding clothes and boots for everyone. However, fourth grade students at East Union Elementary School in Afton, Iowa, got a one of a kind experience by getting a tour of our sow farm while remaining in their classroom that was thirty minutes from the farm.


With the use of Google Hangout, a technology similar to Skype, fifty students were able to visit Taurus Sow in real time. The farm had a strong enough WiFi connection in their farrowing rooms, so there was a live video feed into the farm, without needing fifty pair of coveralls or breaking any biosecurity protocols. Alicia Humphrey, AMVC public relations coordinator, and Amanda Winslow, Taurus Sow farm manager, educated these students about modern pork production by taking them through two farrowing rooms and a boot wash station.  

“Farm Chats are very valuable to my classroom, as my class thrives on technology. Most of our students have no working knowledge of a modern hog facility and have no idea of what is involved in putting pork chops on the dinner table,” said Mark Patten, East Union Elementary 4th grade teacher.

As part of their FarmChat with AMVC, they explored the inside of a sow farm, learned about piglet care, watched piglets being born and dried off and saw sows eating in their farrowing stalls.

Winslow was excited to host this educational activity on her farm, “This great learning tool and a fantastic way to promote what we do to the kids and in turn the community.  After seeing the excitement from the students, I’m sure that they went home and told their parents all about where their bacon comes from. It's a good feeling to know the next generation is still eager to learn about agriculture.”

Throughout the forty minute tour, Humphrey explained why the pigs are housed in barns, what pigs eat, how the pigs’ manure is used as fertilizer, and where the piglets go when they leave our farm.

“Being able to show the students what happens inside of a sow farm and hearing their reactions to seeing the piglets definitely made the experience worthwhile. I think I had the whole class convinced they should be pig farmers when they grow up,” commented Humphrey.

The students asked questions throughout the tour to learn more about pork production.

 Patten was impressed with the tour by AMVC employees, “My students absolutely loved the presentation. They were very interested; especially in the baby pigs.”

AMVC would like to send a special thank you to the Union County Extension Office and the Iowa Pork Producers Association for their resources.