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It’s Agricultural Fair and Exhibition Season: Do You Know How to Protect Your Show Animals?


Agricultural fairs and exhibitions are in full swing across the U.S., and with the recent outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in dairy cows, it is important to know how to protect animals from diseases before, during, and after an event. A highly effective strategy for doing this is with biosecurity, the preventative practices that protect farm animals from getting sick and spreading diseases.

An online series of learning modules is helping students discover what biosecurity is all about. The Healthy Farms Healthy Agriculture (HFHA) Biosecurity Learning Modules were created for students in grades 6 to 12, FFA and 4-H participants, and even college students studying animal science.

The goal for the modules is to create a new culture of biosecurity advocates. Focusing on youth can stimulate a “trickle-up” effect that will help influence the adoption of good habits by adult farmers. Successful examples of this type of education include children asking their parents to stop smoking, to recycle, and to wear seatbelts.

Watch this video overview of the biosecurity learning modules:

Find out more about the learning modules on the Healthy Farms Healthy Agriculture website at

Dr. Julie Smith, project director and veterinarian in the University of Vermont Department of Animal & Veterinary Sciences, led the team of content experts—including four veterinarians—that developed the learning series. She stated that “students in agriculture need access to high quality online educational opportunities now more than ever. Our biosecurity modules offer the flexibility of teacher-guided instruction, or students can learn at their own pace and convenience.”

Discovery learning is key to the design of the learning modules’ interactive curriculum. Students are presented with questions or tasks to complete where they might not know the answers. They are also given supplemental information that introduces biosecurity concepts, and helps the students make logical decisions. A printable guide is available for instructors with additional ideas and activities, career suggestions, and sets of homework and quiz bank questions.

There are six modules in the series that are best viewed on a desktop or laptop computer. The topics include:

  1. What is animal biosecurity – an introduction to biosecurity concepts.
  2. Routes of infection and means of disease transmission.
  3. Finding sources of disease transmission – students become “biosecurity inspectors.”
  4. Biosecurity strategies – students learn how to develop a biosecurity plan.
  5. Public speaking for biosecurity advocates I – students create a persuasive public presentation.
  6. Public speaking for biosecurity advocates II – students learn how to deliver a persuasive speech.

Two paths are available for interacting with the biosecurity learning modules: one offers a self-guided experience for students, and a set of teaching tools and resources for instructors; the other is a two-course set for students, awarded with certificates of completion, in the Fox Valley Technical College online course system at

Complementary to the learning modules, a set of SCRUB kits were also developed by animal science experts. SCRUB: Science Creates Real Understanding of Biosecurity, links hands-on learning experiences with STEM education, by combining science and fun activities to engage youth in grades 6 to 12.

Get the SCRUB Kit activities on the HFHA website at

This work was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), under award number 2015-69004-23273.

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This website is supported in part by New Technologies for Ag Extension (funding opportunity no. USDA-NIFA-OP-010186), grant no. 2023-41595-41325 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Extension Foundation. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of use at

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