Bringing the Cow into the Classroom

Last summer, Christine Blycheck, a fourth grade teacher at Christ the Divine Teacher School outside of Pittsburgh, Pa., attended an Ag in the Classroom training series. There, she met a fellow teacher who gave her a great tip: “check-out the Discover Dairy program.” That tip led her to a dairy calf in her classroom, a dairy farm field trip and a group of students excited to learn.

“I looked through the information on Discover Dairy, and I knew right away that it would be a perfect fit for my classroom,” says Chrissy. “We are teaching in a classical education style, which is all about discovery and discussion. The Discover Dairy series fits that model. It teaches children about why agriculture is important in their lives, and it facilitates open and lively discussions.”

Discover Dairy Meets Standards

The Discover Dairy lessons are cross-curricular and multi-leveled for math, science and reading, while incorporating social studies concepts. The series meets Common CORE standards and are STEM-based.

Chrissy used the Discover Dairy program to meet the classical education standards of her school. She utilizes the five different lessons to teach her students everything from what cows are fed to how much milk their school consumes in one week.

“The program was hands-on and in-depth. The information presented is easy for the kids to grasp and learn,” said Chrissy. “The Discover Dairy videos are excellent, pinpointing the lessons and bringing them to life, while helping to start discussions and which lead to inquiries from the kids.”

The Discover Dairy program was particularly valuable to Chrissy’s students because they live in a small suburban community and do not have a connection to agriculture.

“Before we started the program, my students thought that their food came from the grocery store,” said Chrissy. “Now, they know that foods like milk come from farms. They enjoyed the program so much that they wanted more. So, we signed-up for the Adopt-A-Cow program and applied for and won a grant to visit a real dairy farm!”

Adopt-A-Cow Program

The Adopt-A-Cow program is a great compliment to the Discover Dairy lesson series. Chrissy’s classroom was paired with a farmer and a calf that they interacted with all year long. Students learned the calf’s name, her birthday, where she lives, how and what she eats, her growth progress and how the farmer takes care of her.

“When we received photos of our calf, Peanut, the kids were so excited,” said Chrissy. “The live Skype session with the dairy farmer and Peanut was a highlight of the year. To be able to see Peanut in real time and watch her eat was a thrill. The kids asked all sorts of questions and were very engaged in the lesson.”

The Adopt-A-Cow program includes photos and information of the classroom’s calf, updates on the calf, live video sessions, bookmarks, activity sheets for the students, a classroom poster. The program provides several updates on the calf, her growth and the farm she lives on. Students can e-mail questions and receive an answer from the farmer.

The Adopt-A-Cow program comes at no cost to educators and enrollment opens in the fall of each year. In the 2016-17 school year, 104 classrooms in five states participated in the program.

Farm Visit

The last step in Chrissy’s classroom Discover Dairy experience was a visit to a dairy farm. The classroom won a grant from Discover Dairy to help fund their visit.

“The kids are so excited to see the Discover Dairy lesson series come to life,” said Chrissy. “It really has made a difference to them and taught them how important agriculture is to each person, no matter where they live. These lessons are free to educators, and are adaptable to any classroom and subject. This is such a great resource – every teacher should sign-up now.”