Virtual teacher tour takes 100 teachers to Minn. farms, discuss curriculum for fall learning

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At Sleepy Bison Acres in Sleepy Eye, Craig Fischer gives teachers a virtual tour of his bison farm.

Brigid Sandager teaches 5th-grade math and science in the Stillwater School District. 

"I just think it's really important for kids to know where does our food comes from and it doesn't come from the grocery store but there's another spot," said Sandager.

The virtual tour heads into Sleepy Eye Coffee Company to show that the company uses the bison, and other local ingredients in its food and drinks.

Teachers then break off into smaller zoom discussions groups to talk about the learning and how this experience can help educate students.

"This gives me an opportunity to see some of the different operations throughout Minnesota and also to bring some of that back to the students," adds Sandager.

This is the first of four tours to take educators to farms all around the state from Sleepy Eye to St. Paul to Bemidji.

They are learning opportunities that previously were done in person, but can't be now due to COVID-19.

Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom wasn't sure if this would work, but the virtual tour filled up in just days.

"That was 100 teachers that signed up pretty quick for this tour, so that was pretty exciting," said Keri Sidle with Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom.

"I think teachers were extra interested this year because food has been more top of mind over the last few months," she adds.

Top of mind due to COVID-19 shutdowns and supply shortages. Lessons educators say are now more important than ever.

"I think anytime kids are part of the process even if it's just knowing this came from this farm and that's what that looks like, I think they take their food more seriously," Sandager said.