The New York Farm Bureau Foundation for Agricultural Education will pilot a “Chicken Chat” program at the 2017 Empire Farm Days and the New York State Fair. “Chicken Chat” is a hands-on activity, focused on teaching attendees of all ages a little more about poultry and NYS agriculture.
This program was developed by Pennsylvania Friends of Ag Foundation, and has been shared with us. Nine years ago, they saw the need for an educational activity at major public events where PA Farm Bureau had a presence. While they had a lot to offer members at these events, they didn’t have anything to offer the next generation of members, or to educate the public about the source of their food. They decided to develop a hands-on activity, centered on a specific commodity, in hopes of not only teaching attendees of all ages a little more about agriculture, but of drawing families to their building and booth. Their Foundation staff identified the commodity for the focus, then worked to develop an activity that could be completed quickly, yet actively engage attendees. Once the concept was established, they worked with the graphics specialist in the PAFB Government/Communications Division to create the activity’s backdrop.
The first year they focused on cows, and the company they traditionally used for visors had a cow visor in stock. Since then, they have worked with their graphics specialist to design the animal visor to match the commodity. They then send the graphics to the company which creates a die for the visor then prints, cuts, and ships them. These visors have become a HUGE draw at large events with tens of thousands of attendees. They have people that find their booth and say, “we’ve been looking everywhere for you”, as well as people who come specifically looking for last year’s visor because they liked it so much. This year, at the two major events they attended with this activity, they handed out more than 24,000 visors!
The Chicken Chat program includes a large display gameboard complete with fun graphics and questions about chickens. Realistic plastic eggs that have the answers to the question on them are also included. The game is played by selecting an egg out of a basket, matching it to the question it answers on the gameboard, and sticking the egg directly to the gameboard! This makes for a fun, interactive and educational game. It is sure to attract kids, and families, and to increase their knowledge about agriculture.
Another part of this interactive learning experience is the prize of a chicken hat, which they win for playing the game. Major sponsors for this project will have their logos printed on the hat!! As of June 1st, they include: Giroux’s Poultry Farm, Hudson Egg Farm, Thomas Poultry Farm, and Kreher’s Farm Fresh Eggs. A Chicken Chat activity sheet is also handed out to participants to continue the learning processes after playing the game. This colorful activity sheet has questions on one side, and additional games and facts on the other side.
After this fair season, we will pass this activity and activity sheets along to the NYFB Promotion & Education Committee to make available to county Farm Bureaus that are looking for an educational activity to use at an outreach event, county fair, or farm visit. This will be added to a “lending library” of agricultural education activities as a resource for our county Farm Bureaus. Our thanks and appreciation to the Pennsylvania Friends of Ag Foundation for sharing and collaborating with us on the project.