To open opportunities and build trust with high school students, Midwest Dairy started exploratory conversations with the Family and Consumer Science (FACS) Education Specialist, Maxine Peterson, M.Ed at the Minnesota Department of Education, along with Cyndi Keesee, the Foundation Director at Hospitality Minnesota. FACS classes have transitioned to include more life skills and career tech, including STEM and farm-to-school components. 68 percent of districts in Minnesota offer FACS classes reaching 20,000 students per year, and over 100 schools now offer ProStart Culinary training, which includes a dairy unit.
We focused our efforts on support materials for teachers to use in the classroom addressing food storage, food waste, nutrition, and virtual farm tours and developed a link in the Resource Section on Midwest Dairy’s website. We also produced a Cheese Making video at Metz-Heartland Creamery and developed a revised Cheese 101: Cheeseboard and Pairings guide. All these resources and links were shared by the FACS Department of Education Specialist in her monthly communication as well as through the Minnesota FACS association email list. The cheese-making video already has 370 views from this spring and expect additional views next fall.
Our final component is to sponsor Milk Made Catering to develop a Fresh Cheese Kit to support an in-class tasting activity in late September 2022. Three classes were also randomly chosen to receive a live video chat with Cheese Monger Megan Lewis. To receive the cheese box, teachers had to agree to show a virtual farm tour, the cheese-making video, discuss the Cheese 101 Cheeseboard guide, and post a picture on Instagram using #CheesePower by October 15, 2022. Teacher reaction has been very positive with many exciting comments about using this program in their classroom this coming fall.