Virtual dairy tour brings cows, education, and laughter to people of all ages

WWNY Virtual dairy tour brings cows, education, and laughter to people of all ages

TOWN OF HOUNSFIELD, N.Y. (WWNY) - To go down to the farm, kids just have to open their laptops, or grab a computer or tablet. Dairy education is now a virtual experience at Old McDonald’s Farm.

When COVID-19 hit, field trips and dairy tours at North Harbor Dairy came to a screeching halt. Until Emma Shirley, the Agricultural Education Coordinator at Robbins Family Grain & North Harbor Dairy picked up her phone.

“That’s when I said, you know what? It’s really not difficult to bring kids with me on the phone in a virtual meeting,” Shirley said.

The tours, funded by Sackets Harbor Ag Education and Awareness Center, offer a behind the scenes look into how a dairy farm runs.

“We go into little nooks and crannies and places where big places can never go. It’s a more involved tour with more information,” Shirley said.

For Shirley, that’s what it’s all about: Giving information and educating younger generations about the importance of agriculture.

“We’re trying to make sure people see and make sure that they can ask questions if they have some, about how their dairy products are brought to them and produced,” Shirley said.

Virtual visitors even have the opportunity to adopt and name their own calf, and ask for updates throughout the year.

“That way the education continues. They can learn how she grows up, how her food is going to change, and what barn she moves to,” Shirley said.

Shirley has given more than 100 tours for people of all ages.

All tours are free of charge, and will be running through April. Tours run Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

To schedule a tour, or for more information, you can email Emma Shirley at

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