Distance learning is posing a challenge for Agriculture Education because much of the teaching is hands on. So, Ag educators are finding creative ways to supervise their students on the farm from the distance of their computer screen .
Nikki Fideleldy-Doll teaches 8th – 12th Grade Agriculture Education at Center-Stanton High School.
One of the main aspects of any Ag educator’s curriculum is known as Supervised Agricuture Experience, or SAE.
“Normally during this time in the summer time I get to spend a portion of the time driving around and visiting kids at their job, and it’s one of the favorite things that I get to do because I really get to see kids passions,” explained Fideledy-Doll.
Fideledy-Doll isn’t able to supervise her students on the job this year because of social distancing, so she’s gotten creative.
“I just mailed out my bitmoji. So, students are going to take me on an adventure in their SAE, and take photos of my SAE helping them perform a task,” said Fideledy-Doll .
Center-Stanton High School Senior Shelby Meckle studies animal science and is calving for her SAE project.
“She always used to come out to my farm and I get to show her what I have been doing. But since all the Coronavirus stuff she can’t come out and see me so we have a flat Ms. Fideledy-Doll we call it and I get to take her around my farm and show her what my SAE has been doing.” said Meckle.
Shelby has been taking her “flat” Ms. Fideledy-Doll through her calving season taking pictures of her performing various calving jobs and attaching written reports.
“I got to show her me vaccinating calves, and me feeding my bottle-calf, and I plan to take her into the farm with me because we started field work,” said Meckle.
All of Fideledy-Doll students are doing their SAE’s online. While it is not as ideal as being there in person–there are some pros.
“The advantage is that I don’t have to come up with a time that works for both of us. Since I have online school until noon I get to go to work right after noon. So, I’m out on the farm pretty much all day. So, I get to take her with me and I get to take a whole bunch of photos of what I’ve been doing all day. So Ms. F doesn’t have to be there physically with me all day all week. A disadvantage is she doesn’t get to talk to me and doesn’t get to show me what I can improve on,” explained Meckle.
Most of the students are preparing for careers in the Ag industry, so while they are not getting as much one-on-one instructor training, many say they are spending considerably more time than they normally would helping their families take on important jobs during the economic downturn.
Shelby Meckle’s family have been farming for generations. Her dad currently runs 250-300 head of cattle and Shelby has her own herd of 30 cattle. She plans to expand her herd and improve their genes through artificial insemination.
After graduating Center-Stanton High School, Shelby will continue her education attending Bismarck State College for general course work and then transfer to NDSU to study either animal science or marketing for the Ag industry.