Author: info@discoverdairy.com

Discover Dairy Activities Help Home-School Students Build Greater Appreciation for Agriculture

After growing up in her 4-H program, Becky Norton – a home school teacher in suburban Georgia – was excited to find the Discover Dairy program so she could help her children develop a similar appreciation for agriculture. Discover Dairy is an interactive, cross-curricular educational series that introduces elementary and middle school students to where their milk comes from and how dairy farmers contribute to our world.

Becky’s children, Emma and Eli who are in first and second grade, already have a basic knowledge of farming thanks to their family’s cattle farm in Kansas. Becky says the Discover Dairy program is helping broaden their understanding of all that goes into agriculture while making stronger connections with their family.

“This is our first year following along with Discover Dairy and using some of the curriculum and activities. Our eventual goal is to move to Kansas to live on our family’s cattle farm, so we have been able to relate the Discover Dairy activities to [our family],” she said. “Bringing that home really gave my kids a better insight into what our family’s day consists of as cattle farmers.”

So far, Becky has incorporated hands-on classroom enrichment activities focused on feed and nutrition for dairy cows. They have also learned about calf care and how dairy farmers care for the youngest members of their herds.

“The very first video we watched talked about how dairy farmers have their nurseries set up when calves are born. That was eye-opening for my kids, and it was interesting for them to see that. They were intrigued,” Becky shared.

The program is not only giving them a greater appreciation for where their food comes from, but it’s also helping them learn about the hard work farmers take to care for their animals, be good stewards of the land and produce nutritious products.

“I want them to learn there’s a lot more work that goes into farming than what we see. I want them to have a greater appreciation for the work that goes into getting our meal onto the table,” Becky explained. “It’s not just about raising the cow and the calf. Farmers have to feed them properly so they produce milk. I just want them to have greater knowledge from start to finish.”

To learn about feed and nutrition for dairy cows, Becky and her kids did a hands-on activity comparing trail mix to the mixed ration that cows eat.

As a home school teacher, Becky also finds that the Discover Dairy lessons and activities are adaptable and user-friendly. She’s able to customize the curriculum to their unique learning environment.

“The Discover Dairy lessons have been really easy to follow along with. The first one was as simple as opening up the video and using the conversation questions. I appreciate that the prep work is quick, whether I’m planning three weeks in advance or the night before. I like that it’s quick to put together,” she said. “My kids are very close in age, but for a home school family that has multiple grade levels, it would be very easy to adapt to a greater age span. In a classroom setting, teachers could pick out age-appropriate activities and do a lot of cross-curricular activities. You can pull in agriculture, math and language arts, too.”

Becky hopes to join her family on the farm in Kansas and continues to use the Discover Dairy program as a starting point for her children’s future career possibilities.

“Farming is an important part of nutrition. It’s an important part of the economy. It’s an important part of how the grocery store gets their product. By the time [my kids] get to the point where they’re working on the farm, I want them to already know there’s a lot of work that goes into farming and they’ll be ready for it,” she added.


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.

Adopt a Cow Program Helps Pre-School Students Make Early Connections to Agriculture and Environment

In De Pere, Wisconsin, Jayne Black is showing her pre-school students how agriculture connects to so many different parts of their lives. With a personal interest in the environment and “turning schools green,” Jayne works to help her students become green leaders and find ways to make schools more sustainable. When she heard about Discover Dairy’s Adopt a Cow program, she thought it was a natural way to expand on some of the lessons about nature and the environmental literacy she was already teaching her students – who range from 4-6 years old.

With her students being excited about agriculture after taking a field trip to a farm last year, Jayne hoped the Adopt a Cow program could help her dive deeper.  

“Those field trips are great, but they don’t really get into the nitty gritty of how important of a role our environment plays in a cow’s life,” she shared. “I thought this was such a cool program because my kids were really interested in the farm [when we visited].”

After signing up for the free Adopt a Cow program, her classroom “adopted” Ruby from Vision Aire Farms, LLC, a dairy farm in their home state of Wisconsin.  They receive regular photos, video updates, lesson ideas and other activities throughout the year to give students in-depth exposure to the world of dairy farming and the important role of a dairy farmer. 

“Most of my kids definitely don’t live on a farm. They’re from more urban and upper-class environments,” Jayne said. “That’s why I felt it was really important to have this experience so they can appreciate agriculture at this young age and connect to it.”

So far, Jayne and her students have constructed their own barn for the classroom, filled with a plastic cow, Ruby, who wears a personalized collar. She also utilized the growth chart, a free resource provided through the Adopt a Cow program, to help students measure their adopted calf’s growth and compare it to their own heights.

“Through the curriculum I’ve taught them, they are already very engaged with nature and animals. They were really excited to find out what their calf’s name was,” Jayne said. “I also used the growth chart so they could see how big Ruby was versus how tall they are. They’re really able to grasp that she is growing, and that’s something they can relate to.”

They have also watched a virtual farm tour and engaged in creative art activities such as making cow handprints. With each handprint being so different, Jayne was able to make real-world connections that way, too.

“We talked about how every cow is different. Ruby looks this way, but everyone is an individual. Even if we look the same, we’re still different,” she added.

With her passion for environmental literacy, the Adopt a Cow program has allowed Jayne to introduce some of those concepts to her students and share how dairy farming plays an important role in sustainability.

“They can definitely relate to the fact that water is so important and food is so important to taking care of cows. The farmer who is taking care of the cows is also important. It’s really setting a solid foundation for all that it takes to care for these animals. It’s really growing that appreciation,” Jayne explained. “I talk to the kids a lot about how we share the air that we breathe and how that’s important for cows, too. They need fresh, clean air and places to roam. I think they’re really getting the bigger picture.”

For Jayne’s students, the Adopt a Cow program has given them some ownership and engagement with a world they are learning about for the very first time.

“The visuals of the calf, and the way the program helps students feel ownership over it, it’s really powerful,” she added.


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.

Learn more about the program.

Second-Grade Students Enthusiastic About Adopt a Cow Program in Suburban West Virginia

As a second-grade teacher in Wheeling, West Virginia, Bennett McKinley has found a creative way to boost excitement and enthusiasm with his students: by “adopting” a cow from a working dairy farm. With more than 30,000 classrooms participating in Discover Dairy’s Adopt a Cow program this school year, the program is impacting more than one million students across the globe. When classrooms like Bennett’s sign up for the program, they are paired with a calf and farm in the program and receive regular photos, video updates, and activity sheets. 

For Bennett, this is his second year participating in the Adopt a Cow program.

“It sounded like a fun way for my students to learn about cows, farming, and the dairy industry. I decided to re-enroll this year for those same reasons, with the intent to increase how much I fold the resources into my lessons,” he shared.

Living in a suburban area, most of his West Virginia students have not grown up around dairy farming or agriculture. By watching a newborn calf grow throughout the school year, they can make connections to their own growth, their own families, and where their food comes from, which can be very exciting for elementary students.

“I would say my class is mostly unfamiliar with farming or agriculture. Regardless of their prior knowledge, the students have been very excited and curious to learn more about our calf as well as the farm where she is living,” Bennett said.

With his students’ enthusiasm for their adopted calf, Bennett has found several creative ways to reinforce second-grade learning skills and curriculum through the program’s free lessons and resources. Bennett says the Adopt a Cow program has helped him expand on:

  • Classroom engagement and conversations: Bennett and his students discuss their adopted calf almost every day during their morning meetings.
  • Math skills: His students have used the calf’s measurements and a growth chart that was provided through the program in some of their math work.
  • English and language arts skills: Students put their English and language arts skills into practice by drafting letters with questions about their host farm and calf.
  • Geography knowledge: According to Bennett, last year their adopted calf went on imaginary “visits” around the world with an arctic fox to teach students about geography and unique locations across the planet. 

With a new Adopt a Cow online portal available this year to access calf information and classroom enrichment activities, Bennett says the program has not only helped his classroom learn about the dairy industry, but participation has been simple and seamless for him as a teacher.

“This year’s portal and website make it easier to access information. It’s intuitive and easy to navigate,” he added.


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.

Learn more about the program.

Elementary and Middle School Students Tour U.S. Dairy Farms Through Field Trip Grants

A group of 70 elementary and middle school teachers from Pennsylvania and beyond provided students with hands-on learning experiences at local dairy farms this spring. The teachers, who are enrolled in the Dairy Excellence Foundation’s Discover Dairy program, received dairy farm field trip grants through the Dairy Excellence Foundation, PA Dairymen’s Association, and Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. The grants, which amounted to more than $22,000, allowed these classrooms to tour dairy farms in their community and talk firsthand with dairy farmers and their families.

During the farm tours, students discovered how farmers care for their cows, conserve their natural resources, and produce nutritious dairy products. Teachers also used the farm tour fields trip as an opportunity to build connections to their educational curriculum and local community.

“Our first-grade students learned about dairy cows and how well they are cared for, what they eat and drink, and how they are milked,” said Jennifer Metzler of Williamsburg Community Elementary School in Pennsylvania, one of the grant recipients. “The highlight of the trip was seeing the newborn calves and the forage harvester. Students were also treated to ice cream after the tour.”

For dairy farmers who open their doors to host students and teachers, the farm tour field trips allow them to share how dairy products are produced on the farm and eventually arrive at the grocery store—strengthening their connections with future consumers and the community at large.

“We talked about cow care, robots, cow comfort, and they named the newborn calf [during the tour]. Their smiles made my day. Some of the kids started the tour withdrawn and distant, but by the tour’s end, even the most timid ones in the group wanted to shake my hand and say ‘thank you,’” said Mark Rodgers of Hillcrest Farms, Inc. in Georgia, one of the farms who hosted a field trip. “They learned a lot about dairy, and I think they will go home and share what they learned about milk, dairy products, and all the things their local farmer does to produce it and care for their animals.”

Funds from the dairy farm field trip grants can assist teachers in paying for busing, farm tours, lunch, or dairy treats. Any classroom currently enrolled in the Discover Dairy program is eligible to apply, with several grants designated specifically for Pennsylvania and Wisconsin classrooms.

“It was a great field trip. The farm [we visited] has been around for 102 years. We were able to see how a dairy farm operates and learn all about cows. Dairy farms are such a big part of our town, so this trip tied in nicely with our social studies standards. Those standards include learning about important industries in our town and state. Thank you so much for helping to make this trip possible,” said Zandra Trudeau, a third-grade teacher from Woodstock Elementary School in Connecticut, one of the grant recipients.

Discover Dairy, managed by the Dairy Excellence Foundation, is an engaging, interactive, multi-leveled educational series that shows upper elementary and middle school students where milk comes from and how dairy farmers contribute to our communities.

“These dairy farm field trips give students the opportunity to get on the farm and expand on what they’ve learned through their Discover Dairy lessons and activities. Congratulations to these teachers for receiving grants that could help them plan memorable, hands-on learning experiences on local farms,” said Brittany Snyder, Dairy Education Program Manager at the Dairy Excellence Foundation.

The following teachers received Discover Dairy farm field trip grants during the 2021-22 school year:

  • Amanda Hoover—  Southwood Elementary, North Carolina
  • Ami Medley— Grove Elementary School, Oklahoma
  • Amy Vetterli— Preschool of the Arts, Wisconsin
  • Amy Williams—Battle Ground Middle School, Indiana
  • Angela Premo— St. Joseph’s Elementary School, New York
  • Becky Denney— Charleston Elementary, Tennessee
  • Becky Kleinfelter— Jackson Elementary, Pennsylvania
  • Beth McMurtrey— Hermitage Springs Elementary, Tennessee
  • Blaire Thornton— Zolfo Springs Elementary, Florida
  • Brianna Baab— Wabasha-Kellogg, Minnesota
  • Brianna Schyvinck— Westside Elementary, Wisconsin
  • Brittney Magness— Home school teacher, Arizona           
  • Carla Zimmerman— Lombardi Middle School, Wisconsin
  • Carrie Allord— St. Francis Church, Minnesota
  • Cassie Reetz— John Muir Elementary, Wisconsin
  • Chrissy Blycheck— Christ the Divine Teacher School, Pennsylvania
  • Christan Rosier— Thomson High School, Georgia
  • Christy Edens— McNeel Intermediate School, Wisconsin
  • Courtney Schwanz— Jackson Christian Elementary, Michigan
  • Denise Reinhold— Conrad Weiser West Elementary, Pennsylvania
  • Emily Sherfinski— North Elementary, Wisconsin
  • Erin Mindt— Bethune Academy, Wisconsin
  • Erin Snyder— East Pike Elementary School, Pennsylvania
  • Gina Williams— Carroll Magnet Middle School, North Carolina
  • Heidi Gross— Thomas Dale High School, Virginia
  • Jacqueline Wilk—Seabrook Middle School, New Hampshire
  • Jen Overbeck— Joseph Pennell Elementary School, Pennsylvania
  • Jennifer Bailey— Argyle Central School, New York
  • Jennifer McLaughlin— Jersey City Public School, New Jersey
  • Jennifer Metzler— Williamsburg Community Elementary School, Pennsylvania
  • Jessica Crawford— Titusville Area School District, Pennsylvania
  • Jessica Hite— Chestnut Ridge Central Elementary, Pennsylvania
  • Jessica Izzo— Lincoln Elementary Community School, New York
  • Jodie Day— Townsend Elementary School, New York
  • Jung-Eun Lee— MacDowell Montessori School, Wisconsin
  • Kaitlyn Dwyer— Eden Elementary, Wisconsin
  • Kaitlynn Mynatt— Hatley High School, Missouri
  • Kasey Kautzer— Mead Elementary, Wisconsin
  • Katie Boisvert— Jackson Elementary, Wisconsin
  • Kattie Schulte— Edgewood-Colesburg Elementary, Iowa
  • Kelli Stubbe— Indiana Junior High School, Pennsylvania
  • Kelsey Loughran— Eagle Point Elementary School, Wisconsin
  • Kim Bauer— Wynford Middle School, Ohio
  • Kira Kalepp— School District of Athens, Wisconsin
  • Kris Liddicoat— Iowa-Grant Elementary, Wisconsin
  • Kristen O’Connor— Holy Family Catholic School, Pennsylvania
  • Lauren Newell and Kristen Caldwell— Dyersburg City School, Tennessee
  • Lisa Blair— Warder Park Wayne Elementary, Ohio
  • Lori Bongert— Rio Elementary, Wisconsin
  • Madeline Knoblock— Emmeline Cook Elementary School, Wisconsin
  • Maria Schneider—Brecksville-Broadview Hts. Middle School, Ohio
  • Marian Ferlin— Latrobe Elementary School, Pennsylvania
  • Mary Allyse Malone— McCants Middle School, South Carolina
  • Melissa Carden— Barneveld School District, Wisconsin
  • Monica Joubert – Farmington High School, Minnesota
  • Nicole Bauer— Klein Elementary, Pennsylvania
  • Pam Bockstoce— Rainbow’s End Learning Center, Pennsylvania
  • Randy Bergman— Prentice Elementary School, Wisconsin
  • Sabrina Hayes— Florida A&M, Florida
  • Sage Bennett— South Nodaway Barnard, Missouri
  • Sandra Choquette— Captain Hunt Preschool, Rhode Island
  • Sandra Suncin— Imagine Bell Canyon, Arizona
  • Shyla Woock— Marshall Elementary, Wisconsin
  • Tamee Schultz— Bridgewater-Emery, South Dakota
  • Teresa Dubanowich— Roosevelt Elementary School, Wisconsin
  • Tricia Coxwell— Putnam County Primary School, Georgia
  • Victorian Sinn— Chambersburg Area Senior High School, Pennsylvania
  • Zandra Trudeau — Woodstock Elementary School, Connecticut

Applications for upcoming dairy farm field trip grants will be available in the fall of 2022. Learn more about the program at www.discoverdairy.com/take-trip-dairy-farm. For more information, contact Brittany Snyder at bsnyder@centerfordairyexcellence.org or call 717-346-0849.

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.

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The Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation of Pennsylvania is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax deductible organization that is Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) approved. Established in 2010, the foundation’s mission is to build and invest in programs that cultivate and empower the next generation of producers, consumers, and advocates for the Pennsylvania dairy industry. Learn more at centerfordairyexcellence.org/our-foundation/.

Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation2301 North Cameron St., Harrisburg, PA 17110 717-346-0849 www.centerfordairyexcellence.org/our-foundation/