Online ag classes

Jess Tracey, agriculture teacher at North Central Local Schools, right, came up with the idea to film videos while schools are closed by order of Gov. Mike DeWine. At left is Katie Frey, agriculture teacher at Millcreek-West Unity Local Schools.

They say necessity is the mother of invention and in these trying times, it is becoming necessary to do things online that would otherwise be done in person.

One example is schoolwork, as Gov. Mike DeWine ordered the closings of all K-12 schools until at least April 6. Combined with his stay-at-home order that took effect Tuesday, students are missing out on a lot of education.

“I received an email last week from my administration basically stating that in some way we were going to have to figure out how to temporarily move our instruction online,” said Jess Tracey, agriculture teacher at North Central Local Schools. “There was really no framework of what that had to look like. Just something.”

Tracey was speaking with Katie Frey, a good friend and fellow agriculture teacher in West Unity, when she got an idea.

“I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if you and I just do some random videos about different ag topics and we can post them to our Facebook page and that can be our instruction?’” she said. “We’re not only reaching our students but we’re reaching the rest of the people who follow our page.”

Frey said in an interview it seemed like a good idea.

“I have livestock and it pertains to her animal science class, so I said, ‘Sure, you can come video me doing whatever needs to get done,’” she said, though she wasn’t sure if she would use it for her class. “I’m just kind of waiting until further details.”

After their discussion, Frey told Tracey she needed to check some cattle for pregnancy.

Their first video was born.

“So, everything has been on the fly,” Tracey said. “She creates a short, five-question fun fact quiz type thing that we will eventually roll out to our students after every video that they can do or not do. We’re just loosely trying to figure out how to do our jobs without being in a school building right now. It’s definitely different.”

She said she is just trying to make it as fun as possible.

The first video was uploaded on the North Central FFA Facebook page on Tuesday evening, but four topics have already been filmed.

“Katie had a lot going on at her farm (Tuesday),” Tracey said. “There was a lot to talk about and video. Most (videos) will probably be animal-oriented because animal science is a strong point with both of us.”

They are going to try to work other topics into it, she added, such as preparing a summer garden.

However, the overall future is uncertain. Currently, classes are set to resume on April 6, but Tracey was unsure if that would happen.

“I just thought this would be a little more entertaining than giving them a bunch of online work to do or trying to put together packets, anything that is going to cause more stress to me and more stress to them,” Tracey said. “It’s a way to reach people who aren’t our students.

“Everybody who is following North Central FFA and West Unity FFA is learning about agriculture right now.”

In addition to the videos, Tracey said she is hosting virtual meetings with the class.

“It’s nothing instructional, really, we just kind of all get on and see faces that are not our family and have conversations with people who are not our family,” she said with a laugh. “They’ve really liked that so far. It’s bringing a little bit of normalcy back to the table.”

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