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Weary of this virtual world, looking forward to summer field days

TAGS: Extension
John Hart John_Hart_Farm_Press_2020_Southern_Farm_Show.jpg
Crowds walk the floor of the Kerr Scott Building at the 2020 Southern Farm Show at the Statefairgrounds in Raleigh.
The big national meetings, such as Commodity Classic and the American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention, have gone virtual in 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Editor's Note: After this column first appeared, David Zimmerman, manager of the Southern Farm Show, announced that the 2021 Southern Farm Show has been cancelled due to the ongoing caronavirus pandemic.

Even the most cockeyed optimist will admit that 2020 has been one of the most difficult years we have ever seen, and it looks like the challenges will continue well into 2021.

We had hope life would soon return to normal, but we are not there yet, as the 2021 winter meeting season attests.

Already, the big national meetings, such as Commodity Classic and the American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention, have gone virtual in 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is tough news to swallow because the power of these meetings is the networking opportunities they offer. The Beltwide Cotton Conference is also going virtual in 2021.

The SC AgriBiz & Farm Expo, which is usually held in Florence each January, has been cancelled for 2021. Plans are for the Expo to return in 2022. The good news is that as of now  the Southern Farm Show set for the state fairgrounds in Raleigh Feb 3-5 is  still a go.

Folks I talk to all express hope that both the farm show and commodities conference will go on as in years past. They are tired of Zoom meetings and YouTube videos. Studies show children learn better in the classroom and that virtual learning is not a good way to educate. Students from grade school to college need the interaction that classroom teaching and campus life offer. This is equally true for farm meetings.

Sure, Extension specialists and other experts can present knowledge though videos that we can watch on our laptop screens, but it’s not the same as attending a meeting in person. This is even more true for crop field days. To understand field research you have to be there, not view the field through an impersonal computer screen.

Hopefully, come summer field day season, life will be returning to normal and we can gather in person and examine live and first hand the crop research plots that are so vital for producing food for a hungry planet. All of us are growing weary of this virtual world.

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