Agritourism Survey at the MN State Fair

Agritourism Survey at the MN State Fair

 
UMASH was one of many studies in the University of Minnesota’s Driven to Discover Research Building activities during the 12 days of the 2016 Minnesota State Fair. Being at the Fair gave UMASH access to a large pool of volunteer participants for their study “Agritourism: the Next Frontier in Agriculture.”

The goal of the study is to understand the general public’s knowledge about animal agriculture safety and health. During six days of the fair, UMASH researchers surveyed over 1,100 fairgoers and gathered information about knowledge and behaviors related to agritourism, zoonotic diseases, and handwashing practices. The participants included both youth (age 8+) and adults with and without a farming background.

Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that can be transmitted between animals and people. Even healthy, well cared for animals can have germs that can make people sick. 89 % of those surveyed knew diseases could be spread between animals and people. 57% of participants reported not washing their hands after visiting an agritourism venue. This gap suggests that knowledge does not always equal behavior and is an important risk factor in agritourism settings.

97% of participants knew that handwashing was the best method for preventing disease, while 39% thought that hand sanitizer was just as effective as handwashing.

Results of the survey have prompted UMASH to develop additional educational tools to inform the public when visiting agritourism events including posters, videos and fact sheets.

HOW TO PROMOTE GOOD HAND HYGIENE BEHAVIORS

  • Keep animal contact areas distinctly separate from other areas.
  • Post signs to direct a clear one way flow through the animal area.
  • Use posters and educational signs to remind visitors how to protect themselves.
  • Have plenty of handwashing stations at the animal contact exit and the food and beverage areas.
  • Provide training for all staff and volunteers.