Berning Acres is located halfway between East Dubuque and Galena, Illinois, in the small town of Menominee. Matt and Natalie Berning, along with their five children, run this family farm consisting of 400 milk cows. Besides running a household and a busy farm, Natalie Berning also finds time to be a farm host for the Adopt-A-Cow program. Berning is a former teacher and truly believes in the importance of the Adopt-A-Cow program.
Berning Acres currently provides Discover Dairy with pictures and updates of two calves: Shimmer and Ada. Many surrounding area classrooms have adopted these two calves, including the classroom of teacher Nicole Michel at James Otis World Language Academy, a Chicago Public School. Michel recently got a unique opportunity to meet her classroom calves and dairy farmer Berning in person, something that rarely happens with this virtual program.
Michel had plans to spend the holiday break in Galena, IL, and reached out to Berning about visiting the local farm while they were in town. In late December, Michel, along with her husband and two daughters, ventured to the farm to meet dairy calf Shimmer and farmer Natalie. The Berning family took this time to show the Chicagoans around their farm and give them a hands-on look at how they cared for their cows and calves during the extreme cold temperatures the winter often brings. Michel took loads of photos and was eager to share pictures from her visit with her students.
Michel shared with Berning that “the students ask to see her pictures and the pictures of your beautiful farm on a daily basis, and every day they come into class asking for an update about the cows. These students have never been out of the city and are just fascinated with learning about rural life and farming. I am so thrilled that I signed up to be a part of this beautiful program. I have been teaching for 20 years, and I am always looking for ways to engage the students, and this has just been so great! Thank you for all you do and for being part of this program and showing my students a whole new world outside of the city.”
While it’s hard to get every student out to a dairy farm, checkoff resources are genuinely able to make an impact and build trust with urban youth through programs like the Adopt-A-Cow program. Midwest Dairy is thankful for farmers like Natalie who go the extra mile and take any opportunity to share the industry.