Dwight Rokey is no stranger to Discover Dairy’s Adopt a Cow program. His dairy farm, Rokeyroad Holsteins, in Sabetha, Kansas has served as a host farm in the program for three years now. This year, classrooms from Kansas and Oklahoma both had the pleasure of being welcomed into the Rokeyroad Holstein barns.
The Adopt A Cow program has a following of more than 800,000 students across the globe. The program pairs elementary and middle school classrooms with dairy farms like Rokey’s and allows them to “adopt” a calf from the farm. Through photo and video updates throughout the year, they can watch the calf grow and have opportunities to chat with Rokey and their host farm to learn more about modern dairy farming practices.
“Just the amount of students and people [the program] reaches to showcase what we do on the dairy farm is great. We’re able to tell our story about what we do on the farm, the kind of products we produce, and let kids know how healthy and essential they are to their diet,” Rokey said. “I really enjoy meeting with kids and sharing what we do. I like to get [our story] out there.”
Rokey has participated in the program for the last three years because of the unique experiences that have come about. One of these experiences includes a student and their mother coming from Oklahoma to tour the farm and meet the calf that their class had adopted. This isn’t the first time Rokey has had visitors from the classroom. Teachers have also stopped by to meet him and get the full Rokeyroad Holsteins experience.
“We’ve had students visit who have never been on the farm or don’t even know what a cow is. To have them interact is just really good,” Rokey added.
Throughout the program, the Rokey family has received many gifts from their classrooms such as school branded shirts, hats and cups. The family isn’t the only one to receive a surprise in the mail. Students have sent hundreds of birthday cards, drawings and holiday greeting cards to the calves themselves.
Rokey shared with a laugh how he has had to take some extra time to learn the technology of the program. While he enjoys the in-person experiences, he does see the benefits of virtual programing as he has been able to reach more classrooms.
At the end of the day, Rokey encourages other dairy farmers to consider joining the Adopt A Cow experience.
“It’s just so rewarding to see the positive feedback, the inspiration, and the enthusiasm in the kids that it’s just hard to say no,” said Rokey.
Discover Dairy is an educational series managed by the Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation of Pennsylvania in partnership with American Dairy Association Northeast, American Dairy Association Indiana, Midwest Dairy, The Dairy Alliance, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, Dairy Council of Arizona and Nevada, Dairy West, New England Dairy, Dairy Farmers of Washington, American Dairy Association Mideast, Dairy Council of Florida, United Dairy Industry of Michigan, and Maine Dairy and Nutrition Council.