Author: David Dohety

Farmer Spotlight: Dwight Rokey Shares His Story with Elementary Students

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.

10 Dairy-Themed Activities for Kids This Summer

With long, hot summer days stretching ahead of us, these dairy-themed activities will keep your kids active this summer and introduce them to dairy farming in creative, hands-on ways. From outdoor planters and bird feeders for your yard to homemade popsicle and ice cream recipes, we hope these activities bring some creativity and fun to your summer adventures. Don’t forget to tag Discover Dairy on social media to share your dairy-themed summer fun with us!

1. Make Milk Jug Planters for Your Garden

Recycled milk jugs make the perfect planter for your favorite summer flowers. Help your child pick out the flower of their choice, and prepare the milk jug to be filled with soil and placed in your garden or outside your home. You can get extra creative and use paint to decorate the milk jug with cow spots!

(Source: Crafty Nest)

2. Use Yogurt Cups to Start Seedlings

One of the best parts about summer is enjoying the sunshine and nature around us. Gardening is a great way for kids of all ages to explore the world around thm. After enjoying your favorite yogurt, clean it out and use it as a mini planter to plant seedlings for your child’s favorite vegetable or plant. Watch it grow together throughout the summer. You can also make connections to dairy farming by explaining how farmers plant seeds each spring to grow different crops, like corn and alfalfa, for their cows to eat.

(Source: Simple Joy)

3. Cool Off With Ice Cream in a Bag

On those hot summer days, there’s nothing better than a cold ice cream cone. With just a few simple ingredients – including whole milk, rock salt, ice, sugar, and vanilla extract – you can make fresh, homemade ice cream in a gallon size bag. Don’t forget to buy milk from your local dairy farms to include in the ice cream!

(Source: American Dairy Association Indiana)

4. Make Your Own ‘Milk the Cow’ Activity

If you can’t visit a local dairy farm, you can get crafty with this “milk the cow” activity.  Mix a little bit of white paint with water and pour it into a clear latex glove, closing it off with a rubber band. Consider drawing some cow spots on the glove, and then poke tiny holes in the “udders.” This is a fun activity to do outside so you don’t make a mess! This activity is also a hands-on way to demonstrate milking a cow, although most dairy farms across the United States use technology, including robotic milking systems, to milk their cows.

(Source: Mrs. Plemons Kindergarten)

5. Visit a Local Farm

Many dairy farms host family-friendly events during the summer months with hand-crafted ice cream, opportunities to meet baby calves, hayrides, farm tours, and more! Consider taking a day trip with your children to visit a dairy farm in your community. If you live in Pennsylvania, click here to view a list of family-friendly dairy events happening in June and July.

6. Paint with Nature

Want to combine art class with outdoor play? Find a cool spot in the shade and bring a stack of paper and different shades of paint. Encourage your kids to find items in the yard and garden to paint with, so they can get creative with texture and strokes. To make connections to dairy farms in your community, you can add items that you might find on the farm – such as corn cobs and husks – that kids can roll in paint and make intricate designs.

(Source: Hands On As We Grow)

7. Make Homemade Popsicles

If you’re looking for a nutritious popsicle recipe, this one features fresh strawberries, raspberries and vanilla yogurt – one of kids’ favorite dairy products! Visit your local farmer’s market to get the fresh fruit of your choice. You can make this recipe at home using disposable cups and popsicle sticks and freeze them to enjoy on a hot day!

(Source: Savor Recipes)

8. Create Your Own Milk Jug Bird Feeder

Whether your kids seem to enjoy math and science, or art and creativity, this summer project is the best of both worlds. After finishing the gallon of milk in your fridge, upcycle it and use it to create a bird feeder. Cut small holes into the sides of the milk jug, and then slide wooden twigs through from one hole to the other to serve as perches. After decorating the feeder with paint and sequins to help attract birds, fill it with seed and hang it on display in your backyard.

(Source: Little House Living)

9. Design Your Own Rain Gauge

When it comes to growing crops and harvesting them to feed their cows, dairy farmers are impacted daily by the weather and rainfall. You can make these connections with your kids by designing your own rain gauge at home. Using a plastic bottle or empty milk jug, cut off the top and draw marks to help measure how much it rains. Make sure to add some rocks to the bottom to help it stay in place.

(Source: The Lady Birds’ Adventures)

 10. Make Pretzel Stick Cow Pops

If you’re looking for a yummy summer treat or a favor for a farm-themed party, these cow pretzel pops are sure to be a hit! Dip each pretzel rod into melted chocolate and use modeling chocolate to make spots, eyes, and other cow features.

(Source: Hungry Happenings)

Kindergarten Students’ Creativity Shines Through Adopt a Cow Program

When Kelley Campbell, a kindergarten teacher in Surprise, Arizona, signed up for Discover Dairy’s Adopt a Cow program, she didn’t expect their calf, Georgie, to bring so much creativity and excitement to her classroom. While her students have some exposure to dairy farms in their community, most have not grown up a farm.

“I didn’t know what to expect when I signed up. I didn’t realize the amount of information, as far as lessons, that would be included. It has been a fun experience,” she shared. “Now that I know what the program provides, I’ll be able to integrate it a lot more in my classroom next year. I definitely plan to do the program again.”

Kelley and her kindergarten students adopted Georgie from Stoltz Dairy, which is located about an hour and a half from their school. Having that local connection excited her students, and one child even suggested creating a “Georgie’s Corner” on their bulletin board. Kelley uses the corner as a space to share photos and information about Georgie’s growth that she received through regular photo and video updates throughout the school year.

“When they walk by, students like to have conversations about how they think she’s doing and how big she’s gotten,” Kelley added.

Throughout the year, Kelley has assigned several art activities, including drawings and coloring sheets centered around Georgie and the different parts of a cow. She also assigned a guided, directed writing assignment to build more connections to agriculture and planned special activities for National Milk Day.

“Another colleague had cow pencils that she gave me, and one morning, I put them out for students with a note from Georgie. They were so excited. Some students still have that pencil [to this day]. It’s really special to them,” Kelley shared. “If I’m excited about it, they get excited about it. A lot of it has to do with the community, and our classroom family, that we’ve built in here.”

One of the most memorable parts of the program was getting able to see Georgie and her host farm family during a live virtual chat hosted by Discover Dairy. Students had the opportunity to watch Georgie through a live video and ask questions about her life on the farm.

“Georgie’s personality has shined through the photos and updates we’ve gotten, but during the live chat, we really saw how much she loved the camera. It was so neat for the kids to see her live.”

The live chat also strengthened students’ understanding of where their milk comes from and the impact the farm is making on their local community.

“We definitely learned information about how the milk in their fridge likely came from that dairy farm. When we heard their farm’s milk goes to a local grocery store, the students really thought that was neat to know they could open their fridge and possibly be drinking milk from that farm.”

Thanks to the memories and lessons learned through this year’s program, Kelley plans to join the Adopt a Cow community again next school year and integrate the program with science and social studies standards for kindergarten.


Discover Dairy’s Adopt a Cow program gives students and families a firsthand look at dairy farming. Over the last two years, it has impacted more than 800,000 students across the globe.

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 Management West, New England Dairy, Dairy Farmers of Washington, American Dairy Association Mideast, Dairy Council of Florida, and United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

Massachusetts Dairy Farmer Opens Her Doors to Classrooms and Community

With more than 800,000 students impacted across the globe, Discover Dairy’s Adopt a Cow program is also making a local impact in South Hampton, Massachusetts. Fletcher Farm, a family-run dairy farm, decided to serve as a host farm for this year’s Adopt a Cow program to continue connecting with families in their community. Not only do they sell farm-fresh dairy products, but they have seasonal offerings such as flowers, fresh produce, and a pumpkin patch.

“My farm is really involved in agritourism. We have a seasonal farm stand, and we have a lot of field trips that come through in the fall. We incorporate dairy and the animals into the field trips,” said Nicole Fletcher. “We were already doing some of that classroom type of promotion, and we thought the Adopt a Cow program would tie in nicely to what we’re about.”

When classrooms sign up for the Adopt a Cow program, they are paired with a calf in the program and receive regular photos, video updates, and activity sheets. This school year, many students in Massachusetts and Rhode Island were paired with a calf from Fletcher Farm and learned how the Fletcher family cares for the calves and helps them grow.

Because the Fletcher family welcomes guests to their farm, throughout the school year, many families have driven anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours just to visit the farm and meet their adopted calf. This has given the Fletcher family an exciting opportunity to enhance the way they are communicating with their community and potential customers.

“We have a lot of local schools participating. During the fall when we were open for pumpkin picking, we had people coming to the farm all the time looking to meet the calves,” Nicole shared. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected to be talking about the calves every day. It was a cool thing to see happening.”

Students and teachers have also enjoyed being creative with the Adopt a Cow program and the Fletcher family. Nicole says she has received a high influx of mail filled with Christmas cards, valentines, posters, and coloring sheets that students have mailed to their adopted calves. Teachers in her community are also working to get grants and funding for dairy-specific field trips so they can take their students to tour Fletcher Farm. Nicole hopes to open her doors to as many classrooms as she can.

“My farm is situated in a community where we have a lot of people very close to us. It’s never been a place where we could just shut the doors and ignore the public. That’s kind of why we decided to start a farm stand, do these field trips, and join the Adopt a Cow program,” she shared. “If you don’t share with your neighbors and they don’t know what’s going on at the farm, you don’t have their support. You can’t expect people to want to consume products and appreciate what you’re doing if they don’t understand it and you’re not putting your best foot forward.”

Not only are Nicole and her family caring for the cows on their farm, but they are educating students of all demographics about the commitment dairy farmers have to their animals, land, and community. When students can see a calf, who is well cared for, growing in front of their eyes, all the hard work is worth it.

“We have a bunch of inner-city classrooms in the program. I’ve looked through the emails that have come in through the ‘Contact Your Farmer’ portal, and there are definitely some comments in there asking about how we care for the calves,” she added. “It’s nice when they can see it with their own eyes through the photo updates.”


Discover Dairy’s Adopt a Cow program gives students and families a firsthand look at dairy farming. Over the last two years, it has impacted more than 800,000 students across the globe.

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 Management West, New England Dairy, Dairy Farmers of Washington, American Dairy Association Mideast, Dairy Council of Florida, and United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

Help Us Name Our Cow Mascot – Vote Now

The Discover Dairy team is working on a fun project where we’re developing a cow mascot, and we need your help!  You and your students can help us come up with the perfect name for the mascot. Thanks to the name suggestions you submitted on social media, we have narrowed it down to 10 potential names. Which is your favorite? Use the poll below to submit your vote! 

Looking for additional classroom enrichment and ways to get your students excited about dairy? Click here to view our classroom enrichment activities, including virtual farm tours, videos, books, and other games and activities!

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Adopt a Cow Program Gives Elementary Students a Firsthand Look at School Nutrition

When Apache Smothers, an elementary school lunch-room manager in Rainbow City, Alabama, heard about Discover Dairy’s Adopt a Cow program, she knew it could help her teach students about school nutrition and build connections with the dairy farms in her community.

“I have been celebrating World School Milk Day for years. I thought adopting a cow would be the perfect addition to World School Milk Day on September 29,” Smothers shared.

After signing up for the program, she was paired with a calf from a dairy farm and receives regular photos, video updates, and activity sheets that she shares with the pre-k through fifth grade students at John S. Jones Elementary School. Not only have students been able to learn about dairy farming and watch their calf grow, Smothers has also worked with the elementary teachers and cafeteria staff to plan fun-filled activities for the school community.

The staff made the initial announcement about their adopted calf on September 29th during World School Milk Day. With fun costumes, cow trivia, and educational activities in the classroom, teachers and staff helped introduce the elementary students to agriculture and dairy farming practices. Once the introduction was made and students’ excitement was at an all-time high, Apache began planning a gender reveal party that involved the entire community.

“We have tons of excitement. We asked the local fire department to help us do the gender reveal, and the mayor was here,” Smothers said. “We all love the program so much that it reflects out into the community. The community is really involved in everything, and they are really great people.”

After the gender reveal celebration, Smothers has continued to send calf updates and dairy-themed lessons to each teacher so the entire school can stay connected to their journey with the adopted calf. Many parents have also expressed their appreciation for the program.

 

“We have a student who can’t drink milk and is on a pureed diet. Their parents came to the school with a thank-you note and said how the program has been making the child’s day better,” Smothers shared. “Even though he can’t drink milk, seeing the cow has excited him so much. He had never seen a dairy cow before [this program].”

For dairy farmers who participate in the Adopt a Cow program, interacting with students, parents, teachers and cafeteria staff has allowed them to share their story and provide the community with a firsthand look at where their milk comes from.

“My favorite part so far is seeing the one teacher I know who has one of my calves post about the program and share where her students think their milk comes from. I obviously have a lot of work to do because they think it comes from the grocery store,” said Veronica Steer, a dairy farmer from Sunbow Jerseys in Tennessee, who is serving as a host farm during this year’s program.

For Smothers, the Adopt a Cow program is also an exciting way to educate students and families on nutrition in the school cafeteria. After getting involved in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program – a program that helps lead youth wellness programs and empowers students, parents and educators to build healthier communities— Smothers learned about milk intake and the different nutrients in a glass of milk. Her goal with the Adopt a Cow program is to teach her students where their milk comes from and how it benefits their bodies and minds.

“Our kids drink about 6,400 ounces of milk a day. To me, that’s pretty impressive,” she added. “For a child to know where it comes from, that makes them appreciate it and teaches them the importance of drinking milk. I’ve had a lot of support at my school to make this all happen, and we plan on doing many more activities.”


Discover Dairy’s Adopt a Cow program gives students and families a firsthand look at dairy farming. Over the last two years, it has impacted more than 800,000 students across the globe.

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 Management West, New England Dairy, Dairy Farmers of Washington, American Dairy Association Mideast, Dairy Council of Florida, and United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

Vote for the Most Kissable Calf

Discover Dairy’s Adopt a Cow program has been “love at first moo” for classrooms across the globe this school year! This February, join us for a fun contest to help share the love for your adopted calf. Use the poll below to vote for the most kissable calf by clicking on one of the photos. At the end of February, we will announce the winner of the “most kissable calf” contest, and the winning calf and her host family will receive a calf care package! Share this page to spread the word and encourage others to follow along.

For some added fun, we have three free digital valentine templates you can personalize to share the love for your adopted calf. Click here to view and download our valentine templates.

Helpful Tips for Valentine Templates:

  • After clicking on the link to view the templates, select “Edit Design” and sign up to create a free Canva account.
  • Once you create your account, it will reveal three valentine templates that you can edit and personalize with your own calf photo and text. Click on the empty image boxes to drag and upload your photos. Click on the text to edit with your own message.
  • When you’re done, click the “Download” button on the top right of the screen. Select the page number of your valentine based on the template you chose. Within seconds, you will have your personalized image ready to share/print!
  • Note: If your browser or school system does not allow access to Canva and blocks the above link, you may have to change your browser settings or contact your IT Department to see how you can receive access to the site.

Voting is now closed. Congratulations to Olive from Zahncroft Dairy for winning the contest! They will receive a calf care package. View our Facebook post for more details.

Grants Available to Fund Field Trips to Local Dairy Farms

Any Classroom Enrolled in the Discover Dairy Program Can Apply for a Farm Field Trip Grant

Teachers who have classrooms that are enrolled in the Discover Dairy program are eligible to apply for one of 80 grants available to fund a field trip to a local dairy farm. Funds from the grant can assist in covering the cost of busing, the farm tour itself, lunch, or a dairy treat. There are 15 grants designated specifically for Pennsylvania classrooms and 40 grants designated for Wisconsin classrooms. Farm tour field trip grant applications must be submitted online by March 1, 2022.

“A farm tour field trip is an exciting way for students to learn about how farmers care for their cows, conserve their natural resources, and how milk impacts the economy of the local community,” said Brittany Snyder, Dairy Education Program Manager at the Dairy Excellence Foundation. “We hope these grants make it a little easier for teachers and classrooms to take a trip to a dairy farm in their community and see firsthand all that goes into running a successful dairy operation.”

Selection is based on the number of students eligible to attend the tour and previous and future plans of dairy education in the classroom. Discover Dairy staff do not provide farm suggestions for the dairy farm trip. Teachers who apply for the grants must plan the trip and contact a farm in their community to make arrangements for the tour.

“I like this field trip because it’s hands-on, and I think kids need to learn about agriculture and where their milk comes from. The whole hands-on experience is really beneficial to them,” said Chrissy Blycheck, a previous grant recipient and first-grade teacher in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

Farm tour field trip grant applications will be accepted until March 1, 2022. Grant selection will be ongoing and

Discover Dairy is an educational series managed by the Center for Dairy Excellence based on the number of students attending, previous and future plans of dairy education in the classroom as well as a first-come, first-served basis. The application is to receive funds for a farm field trip that is planned by the applicant. Applications without a specified dairy farm to tour will not be considered for the grant.

Visit www.discoverdairy.com/take-trip-dairy-farm to apply. Contact Brittany Snyder at bsnyder@centerfordairyexcellence.org or call 717-346-0849 for more information.

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 Management West, New England Dairy, Dairy Farmers of Washington, American Dairy Association Mideast, Dairy Council of Florida, and United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

Fall Dairy Activity Guide for Teachers and Parents

As the days grow cooler and the leaves change color, we have a variety of fun, fall-themed activities that will keep your kids and students busy, introduce them to dairy in creative ways, and help them connect with the changing seasons. With crafts, hands-on activities, and recipe ideas, there’s something for everyone – whether you want to get cozy inside or take an adventure outdoors! Don’t forget to tag Discover Dairy on social media to share your dairy-themed fall adventures with us.

Take a Scavenger Hunt and Create Cow-Print Leaves

This activity and craft gives kids the chance to get outside and use their imagination. First, bundle up and take a short scavenger hunt outside. Encourage kids to find leaves, sticks, and any other materials. Then, get crafty with the items you find – and consider painting a leaf black and white with cow spots!

(Source: Handmade Charlotte)

Design a Yogurt Cup Turkey

If you’re feeling festive and want to get a serving of dairy in your diet, try making these yogurt cup turkeys! After you enjoy your favorite flavor of yogurt, take some feathers, paint, foam and googly eyes and transform it into a colorful turkey.

(Source: Frogs, Snails and Puppy Dog Tails)

Indulge in an Apple Cider Float

There’s nothing sweeter than celebrating the fall season with an apple cider ice cream float. You can get a firsthand look at agriculture by taking a trip to an orchard near you to buy local cider and a creamery that makes their own vanilla ice cream! Don’t forget to top it with whipped cream, one of the best dairy treats.

(Source: Delish)

Paint With Corn on the Cob

Corn crafts are perfect during the harvest season and Thanksgiving holiday. Many dairy farmers grow corn on their farms throughout the year, so this makes a hands-on connection to agriculture and will give your students an experience with texture painting.

(Source: Natural Beach Living)

Make a Snowman Out of a Milk Jug

If you can’t wait for the first winter snow, try getting creative and making a snowman out of an empty milk jug. We encourage you to get a gallon of local milk from the grocery store (remember, milk has nine essential nutrients), and once you finish it, you can start decorating!

(Source: Fabulessly Frugal)

Create a Turkey Cheese Ball

Filled with cream cheese and cheddar cheese, this dairy-filled recipe will be a festive centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table. Get the kids involved with adding pretzels to make the full tail of the turkey.

(Source: Crafts a la Mode)

Build a Pine Cone Cow

Pine cones are one of nature’s best craft supplies, so why not put them to good use? Spend some time outdoors picking the right pine cone for the project, and then transform it into a cow with paint, felt and pipe cleaners!

(Source: Manda Panda Projects)

Make Cow Handprint Art

This craft can be a fun twist on the traditional turkey handprint kids like to make during the fall season. Help them dip their hands into white paint, and after they’re done adding the cow’s spots, take it a step further by naming the cow and adding it to the artwork!

(Source: Artsy Crafty Mom)

Get Festive With a Turkey-Shaped Cheese Platter  

Nothing says Thanksgiving like a turkey-shaped cheese platter to snack on as you wait for the main course. Let the kids pick out their favorite cheese, and cut up different varieties to arrange as the turkey’s tail and feathers.

(Source: Melanie Cooks)

Wow the Crowd With Spiced Apple Cheesecake Bites

Small in size but big on flavor, these cheesecake bites are a festive dairy treat that the whole family will enjoy. If spiced apple isn’t your thing, switch it up by adding pumpkin, pecans, or chocolate instead!

(Source: American Dairy Association North East)

Adopt A Cow Program Helps Seniors with Memory Loss

When Sandy Mayer, a volunteer at Kensington Park Senior Living in South Kensington, Maryland, heard about Discover Dairy’s Adopt a Cow program, she initially sent it to her friend who was an elementary teacher. However, she then began to wonder if groups other than students could enjoy the program – the residents at Kensington Park Senior Living being the ones on her mind.

Sandy shared the program with Kyoko Marrone, the Kensington Club Coordinator and activity director, who loved the idea and thought it would be an exciting program for their residents.

The Kensington Club is a unique club with members who are in a stage between assisted living and memory care. The 12 residents in the club range from having mild and cognitive memory loss issues to early Alzheimer’s. The club allows them to receive more individual attention and to have more activities throughout the day.

When the club began participating in the Adopt a Cow program, they were in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, Kyoko and Sandy liked to take the residents on outings twice a week to nature centers and museums in Washington D.C. When COVID-19 hit, they had to rely on virtual programs, such as Adopt a Cow, to engage with their residents instead.

“I think it just changed the direction of how Kyoko thought about the activities,” Sandy said. “She started organizing more virtual trips, programs, and even made a vegetable garden for the residents.”

Before the residents found out they would be adopting a calf, Kyoko shared a virtual farm tour with them to build their excitement. This sparked one of the residents with memory loss to recall a piece of her childhood.

“When they saw the virtual farm tour, she started talking about how she used to grow up on a farm. So, it was really good for her to deeply connect to her memory. She gave us a great lecture about the farm and how she took care of the animals every day,” Kyoko shared.

A few weeks before the announcement of their calf arrived, Sandy and Kyoko started hinting towards the residents about what was to come. For Halloween, Sandy even came to the facility dressed in a cow costume!

For the next few weeks prior to seeing their calf, they also did weekly trivia about farmers and the dairy industry. After Sara, the calf they adopted was announced, Sandy created adoption certificates for each of the residents. One of the residents was so excited she hung her certificate on her bedroom door.

Over the next few months, Sandy and Kyoko planned fun activities to keep their residents intrigued with Sara, their calf, and the dairy industry.

Kyoko made a large chart that monitored Sara’s height and weight as she grew. She also plans to make a fun cow visor craft in the summer.

“This is the bridge between assisted living and memory care living,” Sandy added. “To get that spark in residents, it was a fun time to be with them and to get them involved in something they are so excited about.”

Discover Dairy’s Adopt a Cow program gives students and families a firsthand look at dairy farming. For the 2020-21 school year, more than 70,000 classrooms and homes signed up for the program, impacting more than 1.5 million students across the nation.

Discover Dairy is an educational series managed by the Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation of Pennsylvania in partnership with American Dairy Association North East, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, Midwest Dairy, and The Dairy Alliance.

Learn more about how you can support this program.