The Georgia Forestry Foundation donated 10 Oculus Quest II virtual reality units Monday night for use by Hall County’s agricultural students.
The donation was funded in partnership with the North Georgia Community Foundation and the Chattahoochee Oconee Forests Interpretive Fund. Included in the donation are 10 Oculus Quest II virtual reality units, storage cases, educator training and teacher support and direction on using the new resources. All together, the donation is valued at $10,000.
Career Technical and Agricultural Education Director Rhonda Samples said the Oculus units will be stored at East Hall Middle School, but other schools will still have access.
“They're going to be inventoried and stored at East Hall Middle School, which has one of our premier Ag programs in the county,” Samples said. “But they will be used by North Hall Middle, North Hall High School, East Hall High School, East Hall Middle, and Lanier College and Career Academy, which are where we have the five agricultural programs in the district.”
The curriculum for the interactive virtual reality program is centered around transporting students to many different environments without having to leave the classroom. For example, in one experience students will have the chance to explore the plant and animal cells of trees and deer. Another program allows students to navigate forestry jobs by simulating industry scenarios.
Samples said providing young minds with diverse, interactive materials helps to strengthen their education.
“I just think giving the students another opportunity outside the classroom—to me, you can never give them too many experiences, other than just being inside the classroom with a teacher,” Samples said. “So this is just another platform to illustrate the growing field of agriculture, which is number one in our state.”
Vice President of the Georgia Forestry Foundation Nick DiLuzio presented the donation to the school board. His primary motivation is to preserve the long term sustainability of Georgia’s forests. He believes that goal can be accomplished by connecting youth to the land.
“We always advocate for getting kids out in the woods, but that’s not always possible,” DiLuzio said. “And so over the last couple years, we launched in spring 2021, we worked with GPB, Georgia Public Broadcasting, to develop an online, virtual forestry curriculum for grades 3 through 12.”
Hall County schools hope to begin using the virtual reality donation in the classroom at the start of the new year