In Phoenix, Arizona, one preschool classroom is using Discover Dairy’s “Adopt a Cow” program to introduce real-world concepts to their students. After a parent told Summit School teacher Fredie Boudrie about the Adopt a Cow program, they signed up to be paired with a calf from a dairy farm. The class will receive photos, video updates, and activity sheets throughout the school year that allow them to watch their calf grow—with the first update set to arrive in mid-November with their calf’s name and photo.
As the preschoolers eagerly awaited news about their adopted calf, the Presidential election was in full swing. Boudrie decided the Adopt a Cow program and Discover Dairy unit could help create exciting connections with the election process for her young students.
“We didn’t know if our calf would be a Jersey or a Holstein breed. I thought it would be really fun, during the week of the Presidential election, to have students vote for which type of cow they think we’re going to adopt,” said Boudrie, a preschool teacher at the Summit School.
To give students an authentic voting experience, she created partition boards and an imaginary voting center. Students received their own voter identification cards, and only one person could be in the booth at a time. After seeing a picture of each breed of cow, they cast their votes and the results were divided: half of the students voted for a Jersey cow and the other half voted for a Holstein.
“Students don’t usually have a strong connection to the President. They know their parents vote, but adding the cow theme to the election activity this year was much more meaningful,” Boudrie added. “We had a good time with it. Presidents are just names to them, but the kids can get on board with cows because they have seen them when we’ve taken field trips to farms.”
In addition to the connections she made with the election, Boudrie was able to infuse different subjects and lessons into the Discover Dairy unit, including math and reading. The class held a group discussion to define the term ‘adopt,’ read books about cows, and created graphs with results from their votes.
After learning in a virtual environment last spring, her students’ experience with platforms like Zoom also made it easier for Boudrie to introduce the Adopt a Cow program to such a young age group.
“Last spring, when we taught remotely from home, they learned all about Zoom sessions and the Internet. Prior to that, I don’t think they would have understood how we were going to ‘adopt’ a cow they would never actually touch or see in person. But as we explained it to them, we were able to connect it to Zoom and virtual learning,” Boudrie said.
With several students continuing to learn remotely, while others are back in the classroom, the Adopt a Cow program has been an intriguing way for her students to stay connected during unconventional and ever-changing times.
“This program is definitely a blessing. It gives students something to look forward to,” Boudrie shared. “We have been back in person, but there are some kids who are still doing online learning. The Adopt a Cow program has been a good way to connect all of us, whether we’re at home or in the classroom. Kids love animals, so it has been a great way for them to engage and learn new facts.”
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 have signed up for the program, and it is expected to impact 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.
With many schools transitioning to virtual learning to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Discover Dairy is committed to providing free digital resources and curriculum to help educators during this time.
Visit our virtual learning library to access digital lessons and resources to supplement your virtual lesson planning. If you’re looking for a specific lesson or resource, please email Brittany Snyder or call 717-346-0849 and we can help you find virtual educational resources that will work for your classroom.
We encourage you to take advantage of additional instructional resources provided by the National Dairy Council and other sources:
- A World Well Nourished: Dairy’s Role in Health and Sustainable Food Systems
- Dairy DYK: Your Top Questions Answered
- Get Cultured on Fermented Dairy Foods
- Fat or Fiction: The Science of Whole Milk Dairy Foods Within Healthy Eating Patterns
- Diabetes and Dairy: Research, Recommendations and Real World
- Power of Protein: Quality & Quantity in Healthy Eating Patterns
Resources, Infographics and Videos
- At Home with Science: Let’s Make Butter!
- Soil for Ag – A lesson geared toward 4th grade learning about land suitable for agriculture.
- Healthy Bodies-Healthy Cows Lesson – A lesson geared toward 4th grade learning how our movements compare and contrast that of a cow.
- Downloadable Food Models
- Ag Trivia – Fun facts you never knew about dairy.
- Dairy BINGO – Families can create their own board and have fun.
- Coloring Book – An undeniably dairy adventure for Preschool to 6th
- Color by Number – This mural is geared for your experienced student (4th – 6th grade)
- Advanced Coloring Sheets – Dairy-themed coloring sheets for older students (and adults!)
- Fun on the Farm with Farmer Katie Video Series
- Fun on the Farm with Farmer Jess Video Series
- Fun on the Farm with Farmer Lolly Video Series
- Fun on the Farm with Farmer Renee Video Series
- Live Ag Lessons (Daily Videos from Riverview, LLP)
- Live Story-Reading by a Dairy Farmer (My Barnyard View Blog)
- Answers to Common Questions: Dairy A to Z
- Dairy Dictionary
- Dairy as a Driver of the Sustainable Development Goals
- Dairy’s Role in Addressing the Triple Burden of Malnutrition
- Honor the Harvest. From Farm to Table and Back Again
- Honor the Harvest. Nourish People. Be a Food Waste Warrior
- The Udder Truth on Antibiotics, Big Farms and Animal Care (Videos)
- Virtual Farm Tours by American Dairy Association Northeast
Dairy Nutrition 101
- Dairy Foods Key for Supporting Health
- A Nutrient Powerhouse
- What Do Milk Fat Percentages Mean?
- Think Your Drink How Milk Compares to Other Beverages
- Dairy and Nutrient Contributions
- Dairy in Healthy Eating Plans
- Milk and Your Health
- Cheese and Your Health
- Yogurt and Your Health
- Dairy and Lactose Intolerance
- Dairy and Cardiovascular Disease
- Whole and Reduced-Fat Dairy Foods and Cardiovascular Disease
- Dairy and Type 2 Diabetes
- Dairy and Blood Pressure
This page will be updated as more learning resources are made available.
Second graders at Jackson Elementary in Eastern Lebanon County School District are getting an inside look at dairy farming this school year through Discover Dairy’s “Adopt a Cow” program. With agriculture being such a big part of the community in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, Becky Kleinfelter decided to sign up for the year-long interactive learning series.
“We live in a farming community, so it’s important for students to learn about agriculture,” she said. “We also have an agricultural week where high school students come down and teach us about agriculture, so I thought [the Adopt a Cow program] would give us a jumpstart on learning some of those things.”
When the program launched this fall, the second-graders received a photo and certificate for Patty, the calf their classroom ‘adopted’ from a dairy farm. Throughout the year, they have received updates on Patty’s growth through videos, photos and activity sheets. Kleinfelter has also been able to incorporate hands-on learning activities and curriculum provided by Discover Dairy to give her students a deeper understanding of the dairy industry and food production.
“They have to know food doesn’t get produced out of midair. It takes a lot of work from the farmer to produce good quality, healthy food,” she said.
For students who enjoy being around animals, Kleinfelter says the Adopt a Cow program has opened their eyes to future careers in the agriculture industry. She also credits the comprehensive lesson plans and vocabulary lists for helping her lead engaging, in-depth discussions with her students.
“I grew up in this area, but I’ve never lived on a farm so I don’t know a lot of the vocabulary,” Kleinfelter said. “It has been really nice having the lesson plans laid out and focused on vocabulary, so I can be sure I’m teaching students the correct terms to use when they’re speaking about farms and different animals.”
This spring, the second-graders will expand on what they’ve learned in the classroom by participating in live video chats. They’ll get to virtually meet Patty and talk directly with the farmer who cares for her each day.
“The kids have actually come up with some really good questions that I can’t always answer. It will be nice to give them the chance to ask the farmer themselves,” Kleinfelter added.
Last year, through a partnership with Undeniably Dairy, more than 25,000 elementary and middle school students from across the United States, Mexico and Canada participated in the Adopt a Cow program. Enrollment for the 2020-21 school year will open in August.
Discover Dairy is an educational series managed by the Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation of Pennsylvania. Learn more about the Adopt a Cow program.
With consumers becoming more interested in shopping locally, Mary Myers, a middle school teacher from Keystone SMILES Crossroads CLC, wanted her students to understand the role agriculture, and dairy farming, play in this consumer trend.
“I wanted to include a unit on Pennsylvania agriculture in my junior-high social studies class, and I decided dairy would be the best choice. There are dairy farms in the area that provide jobs to the community, and many of my students will be looking for work right after high school,” Mary said.
As she searched for lessons that could help her bring dairy farming into the classroom, she found the Discover Dairy lesson series—an interactive, cross-curricular, multi-level program managed by the Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation of Pennsylvania.
Designed for elementary and middle school students, the Discover Dairy program immediately interested her class. While many of her students grew up in areas surrounding dairy farms, Mary found they knew very little about the industry at the start of the unit. This opened the door for meaningful lessons and important conversations, specifically surrounding the environment and the local community.
“As soon as we finished the first lesson in the program, I could see the students were really responding to the information and activities,” Mary shared. “One of the lessons they most enjoyed was ‘In the Environment.’ Knowing farmers respect and want to preserve the environment was important to them. They also enjoyed the ‘In the Community’ lesson. This lesson was truly an eye-opener for students when they realized how important it is to shop locally and support jobs in their hometowns.”
Along with making personal connections, the Discover Dairy lesson series gave students the chance to apply scientific concepts to real-life scenarios on the farm. Through interactive labs that complemented each lesson and reinforced specific concepts, students also benefited from hands-on learning opportunities.
“My favorite thing about the Discover Dairy lessons are the complimentary labs,” Mary said. “I use a lot of hands-on learning, and the labs lend themselves to my style of teaching. They were extremely useful for engaging students.”
During the culminating project for the Discover Dairy unit, Mary divided her students into groups and asked them to create a Pennsylvania dairy advertising campaign. After choosing a dairy product to promote on television, radio, print or social media, the students were able to get creative and develop scripts, backgrounds, photos and other content to showcase their dairy products.
“In the end, students created a billboard for yogurt, a TV commercial for ice cream, and a print ad for a dairy-based energy drink,” Mary explained. “The campaigns all advertised Pennsylvania dairy as the main ingredient for their product. I was extremely pleased with the outcome of the project.”
In addition to social studies, Mary has incorporated the Discover Dairy lessons into her English classes, pairing learning objectives and projects throughout the unit. For Mary’s students, what began as an initial interest in dairy blossomed into a deeper understanding of Pennsylvania agriculture and their role as consumers.
To learn more about the Discover Dairy lesson series and the free curriculum available to teachers, visit our website or call (717) 346-0849.
How can we help students understand the world of dairy farming? By taking them to visit a farm!
After receiving dairy farm field trip grants through the Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation, several classrooms that are enrolled in the Discover Dairy program had the opportunity to visit local dairy farms this spring. During the farm tours, students learned how farmers care for their cows, conserve their natural resources, and produce dairy products that are full of nutrition.
As part of Discover Dairy’s 2019 “Adopt a Cow” program, students throughout Pennsylvania and beyond had the opportunity to gain a firsthand look inside a dairy farm. Through a partnership with the Midwest Dairy Association, more than 80 classrooms registered to participate in the program and “adopted” a cow from a dairy farm in Pennsylvania, Illinois or Minnesota.
With live video chats, photos, activity sheets, certificates, and other learning activities, the program gave students a deeper understanding of the dairy industry as they watched their cows grow throughout the school year.
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.”