Even though a lot has changed over the past year with the pandemic directly affecting our dairy community, one thing that remains important is Midwest Dairy’s commitment to providing educational resources and opportunities to connect kids with the world of dairy farming.
The young generations are our future consumers, and Midwest Dairy continues to work with farmers and partners to help kids develop a connection with where their food comes from and showcase why dairy is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. And as the world continues to change, the ways in which kids learn and experience the farm continues to change, too. Midwest Dairy has invested in new programs for educators and caregivers to provide students even more opportunities to learn about dairy’s farm-to-table journey in a fun, enjoyable and safe way.
One of the ways Midwest Dairy is continuing to do this is the Discovery Dairy Adopt a Cow program. This program was created to provide educators and students with a free, year-long virtual experience where they can care for a calf and interact with a dairy farmer – learning first-hand all about the cow and her lifecycle, as well as important lessons about dairy farming along the way. Ideal for virtual or in-person instruction, the Adopt a Cow program follows Common CORE standards and is interactive with farm tours, virtual chats and so much more.
Now in its third year, Midwest Dairy has seen tremendous success with the Adopt a Cow program throughout the 10-state region. With seven farmers participating from Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas, the program will reach more students than ever before. In fact, this year, student participation in Adopt a Cow increased more than 1,400% over last year – during the 2020-2021 school year, 250,183 students will be engaged and learning about life on a Midwest dairy farm! Additionally, more than 10,000 educators signed up for the program this year – up from 342 in 2019 – proving that it’s more crucial than ever to find new and creative ways to engage with kids and get them out on a farm, even virtually, to learn about how dairy is good for them and how our farmers care for the land and the animals.
In-school programs such as this are a great way to continue to tell our on the farm story, build trust and bring dairy to life for the next generation of dairy consumers.
*Photos featured in this article were taken prior to March 2020 before mandatory mask/social distancing mandates were implemented.