October 6, 1999 | By: Haven Miller
LEXINGTON, KY

To the list of important agriculture technologies, now add another one – the television camera. Television can peer into a horse stall to show a foal being born, or show the different stages of an apple as it goes from tree, to store shelf, to pie.

That's the idea behind segments of the Electronic Field Trip series that's airing on Kentucky Educational Television and its Star Channel system. KET video production teams are joined by distance learning faculty from UK's College of Agriculture to go "on-site" to highlight agricultural enterprises. The Star Channel delivers the programs directly into the classrooms of students ranging from late elementary through high school. KET's main network airs many of the programs later for general viewing.

"KET had already been producing electronic field trips to other places, such as a coal mine and a civil war battlefield, but wanted to do one at a farm," said Kim Ragland, distance learning specialist in the UK Agricultural Communications Services department. "Since KET had already worked with us on other educational projects, it was an easy next step for us to help them with the farm field trips."

The first agricultural field trip was a live, unrehearsed, televised visit to a horse farm in 1996. It went well, and soon other pre-recorded farm visits followed.

"Our next field trip was to a beef cattle farm in Boyle County, then we went to a pig farm in Hardin County, then to a veterinary clinic in Jessamine County, and the last one was to an apple orchard in Pulaski County" said Ragland. "We have hopes of doing future field trips to a fish farm, a race track, and the North American livestock show."

The series has been one of the most popular programs on the KET schedule. Figures from the first farm visit indicate the program was viewed by more than 500 teachers and more than 13,000 students. Those numbers are likely higher if subsequent airings are added.

"Students love them, and teachers tell us how much they appreciate the educational information the farm visits provide," said Liz Hobson, executive producer and former KET education director. "Agriculture is such an important part of our state's economy, and we have a number of students who may not know about it. The electronic field trips introduce them to not only the science involved, but also the career opportunities that agriculture offers them."

"The camera can often go where the students can't, or capture events as they happen over time, such as animals or crops going through different stages," said Ragland.

The partnership between television professionals at KET and agriculture faculty at UK has proven to be a formula for success, and one that's mutually-beneficial.

"The faculty at the UK agriculture college have brought wonderful content to the series. They've found the locations, helped with the teacher guides, and created materials for the Web – it's a true partnership and we couldn't have done it without them," said Hobson.

"KET is outstanding to work with," said Ragland. "They know how to make all the technical elements come together for a broadcast that's not only educational, but also fun and exciting."

The farm field trips are frequently available for viewing by schools on the Star Channels. Teachers should check listings from KET for air dates. The video field trips also are available from the University of Kentucky by calling 1-888-923-8657, from KET at 1-800-945-9167 (Kentucky only), or ordering on the World Wide Web at www.ca.uky.edu/agc/dl/Ftrips/menu.htm. On-line materials for classroom instruction and student activities also are located at this site, as well as KET's field trip site at www.ket.org/trips/index.html.

Contact: 

Writer: Haven Miller (606) 257-3784
Kim Ragland 606-257-4568