Students from two schools recently toured Iowa beef farms in a unique way —virtually.

Without leaving the classroom, students were able to interact live with a farmer and take a tour of their farm through video-conferencing technology.

This Agriculture in the Class­room program is called FarmChat, and students can interact with a variety of different farmers or agribusiness professionals to learn about the science, technology, engineering and math that is involved in the agricultural industry.

Third- and fourth-grade stud­ents from Gilmore City-Bradgate Elementary in Gilmore Cityhave won the "High Steaks!" beef marketing competition provided by the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation (IALF).

Part of the prize package included a barbecue beef lunch, a virtual field trip and a tour of a beef farm. The students connected with a local, Humboldt County beef producer who showcased his feedlot and how he finishes cattle and raising them to market weight.

FarmChat uses technology (Skype, FaceTime, Zoom and other software platforms) to bring the farm into the classroom. Students can speak directly with the farmer and even ride along in the combine or see animals up close from the safety and security of their classroom.  

“Most students don’t ever have an opportunity to visit a livestock farm,” said IALF Education Program Manager Cindy Hall. “This program gives students that chance and helps them understand where their food comes from and the care that goes into raising animals.”

FarmChat programs can happen throughout the year and be matched with topics teachers are covering in their classrooms. The "High Steaks!" beef marketing competition was sponsored in part by the Iowa Beef Industry Council. For more information about FarmChat or to learn more about Agriculture in the Classroom programs in your area, visit