Search For Excellence in 4-H Programming

Brandy Vandewalle
NE Extension

VanDeWalle, B.*1, , Paisley, S.2, , Pesek, D.3, , Janning, E.4, , Hay, F. J.5, , Rice, N.6, , Kinley, K.7, , Schulze, B.8,
1 EXT. EDUCATOR, NE Extension, Geneva, NE, 68361
2 Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension, Oshkosh, NE, 69154
3 Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension, Fairbury, NE, 68352
4 Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension, Hastings, ne, NE
5 Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension, Lincoln, NE, 68583
6 Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension, Scottsbluff, NE, 68361
7 Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension, Nelson, NE, 68961
8 Educational Engagement Coordinator, Nebraska Extension, Lincoln, NE, 68583

During school shutdowns due to COVID-19, NebrASKa Scientist Field Trips was designed to target high school students across all 77,220 square miles of the state. Schools were switching to virtual learning platforms, which identified in a quick needs assessment left many teachers searching for ideas how to provide experiences that would be engaging or similar to field trips that were being cancelled due to online learning.  NebrASKa Scientist Field Trips were created with the concept of bringing industries and professionals from across the state to schools. Each live tour highlights a STEM or ag-related career and encourages viewers to ask questions.

Between March and December of 2020, 17 Virtual Field Trips were conducted. During that time, tours had 536 live youth viewers, 153 adult live viewers, and 61 unspecified live viewers for a total of 750 live viewers. During these 45-minute field trips, the live viewing audience has been primarily from Nebraska. However, they reached neighboring states as well as Utah, Kentucky, Montana, Utah, Texas, and Wisconsin and internationally reached audiences in Canada and Brazil. Using YouTube demographics, trips have had a combined 2,202 hits on the YouTube recordings with an average 23% completion rate of the tours for an additional 506 viewing sites.

A post-evaluation found that 100% of viewers learned about a new career or something new about this career. Seventy-one percent are interested in pursuing a STEM or ag-related career in the future. Only 57% of those taking the survey say they think STEM and ag-related careers are available in their community. Reports from teachers and parents have said this was timely information and they appreciate efforts to make these tours happen. One teacher said, “I have used these trips with several of my classes.  I love having the ability to go back and show them later!”  

While tours were originally created to assist teachers during COVID-19, tours continue and have greatly impacted Nebraska youth. Field trips has improved the access, equity of exposure, and opportunities for youth to learn outside of their community or surrounding areas especially for the large number of youths living in rural areas.