Through that partnership, students get the opportunity to take “virtual field trips” of egg farms in the United States.
Mia Roberts, AEB vice president of strategic operations, told attendees at the Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit on May 6 that AEB’s foundation is rooted in education, research and promotion.
While Roberts said many teachers are educating students about agriculture and more specifically egg production, AEB wants to build on that. Therefore, the organization looks for partners to help it carry out those missions.
Choosing Discovery Education
About five years ago, AEB entered into a partnership with Discovery Education. Several companies were considered, but Discovery seemed to be the best fit, said Roberts.
“We chose Discovery because it is a national, trusted brand. Discovery Communications, the parent company, is the No. 1 global non-fiction communications company and Discovery Education is a subset of that," she said.
According to Roberts, Discovery Education focuses on all grades K-12, and AEB is trying to reach all of those grades. She adds that more than 50 percent of U.S. schools subscribe to Discovery Education and it has a network of more than 1 million teachers.
Finally, she said Discovery knows how kids learn and it embraces agriculture.
Virtual field trips
When AEB began working with Discovery, it wanted to find a way to get more kids on field trips to farms, although it would be unrealistic to have all the kids it wanted to reach to the farms in person.
So in 2012, Discovery filmed its first virtual field trip to a Hickman’s Family Farms facility in Arizona. Each year, a new field trip has been filmed, with footage shot at a Willamette facility in Oregon in 2013, a Pearl Valley Eggs facility in 2014, a Creighton Brothers farm in Indiana in 2015 and a Hertzfield farm in Ohio in 2016.
“We showed hens in cages, we showed manure, how eggs are candled, and how USDA looks at eggs,” said Roberts. “We looked at every element that we could fit into 45 minutes and put our farms out front.”
In filming the farms, Discovery and AEB not only try to be educational, but also entertaining while showing the people working at the farms in a personal manner.
Tours have been successful
Roberts said the reach of those tours has surpassed expectations.
“These field trips have been remarkably successful,” she said, noting that the first two tours that were done were among the top 5 in Discovery Education’s full portfolio, outranking the popular Mythbusters series and a segment on a former NFL player turned astronaut.
While the partnership has not been inexpensive, Roberts said it has been worth the expense. She added that Discovery has added services at no charge.