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Local farm creates online education snippets for young remote learners

The Pfisterer Farm School program provides free videos to teach Grades 1 to Grade 3 students about agriculture
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Jessica Pfisterer with husband Ryan and son Boone. Together they run Pfisterer farm and have expanded to free educational videos.

DAMASCUS – The cows are coming home to the virtual classroom as a Wellington North farm looks to engage young students with a connection to agriculture. 

Operators of Pfisterer Farm in Damascus, near Arthur, have created Farm School, which provides short one-minute educational videos about farm life geared towards Grades 1 to Grade 3 students. 

Jess Pfisterer, who runs the farm with husband Ryan, said she heard from parents and educators that online learning has been challenging especially when it comes to keeping children engaged. 

One of the farm’s mandates is to share knowledge, which Pfisterer said would mean visits to the farm. Of course this hasn’t been able to happen. 

She was partly inspired by the popularity of TikTok videos.

“I kind of took that idea and mashed it with the Heritage Minute idea and thought why don’t we just come up with little minute snippets and post it online for educators and parents,” Pfisterer said. 

The videos are completely free for use and Pfisterer explained they tie into the Ontario School Curriculum for early elementary grades. 

“For Grade 1 that’s something along the lines of understanding the needs for animals, so that they need food, shelter and water,” Pfisterer said.

Videos will be going up on Jan. 25 but a sample video provides a good example.

Pfisterer introduces two cows, Elle and Red, and gives some facts about where they come from and the foods they eat. 

“It’s pretty basic, I mean we’re talking grades 1 to 3,” Pfisterer said. “That material was already going to be covered right? We just wanted to make sure that it lined up for easy consumption.”

Farm School isn’t on any particular app or platform so it can be used anywhere by anyone. Pfisterer said making them on-demand and not live makes it easier for teachers to incorporate them into busy days.

The Pfisterers have also offered to answer up to five classroom questions in video responses which furthers engagement between students and farmers. 

She noted her own experience of growing up in Guelph and only seeing farms on field trips as creating a bit of a disconnect of where food comes from and how it was raised.

“There is an opportunity for us to kind of bridge that gap,” Pfisterer said. “I think as farmers we have an obligation to kind of share this, if that’s something we want to promote – local food, local farms.”

Pfisterer also said she looks forward to eventually having groups once again visit the farms but these videos are a way to tell their story for the time being.

The Pfisterer Farm School videos will be available starting Monday.