Those producers who host tours represent all of us. For the past eight years, fourth grade students in Wisconsin's Jefferson County have toured a working dairy to learn about agriculture.
The Kutz family opens their farm to over 700 special guests with the help of the local Farm Bureau and Agri-Business Club. These organizations also sponsor the students' lunches, including a ham and cheese sandwich, vegetables, milk, and ice cream.
Pooling resources from all those with an interest in agriculture, FFA members escort students to 11 stations around the farm, taught by FFA students, the Kutz family, and industry professionals.
One of the most popular, the "Then and Now" station included a farm replica from 50 years ago and a modern one – even with a rotating carrousel parlor! Station leaders stressed, "Fifty years ago, one farmer fed 26 people, today it's 155." This station also included a drone demonstration.
Students watched Jersey cows being milked in a parallel parlor. Family member, Aaron Kutz, reassured attendees that all milk is free from antibiotics and safe to drink due to the rigorous milk testing.
The freestall barn presenters were Ron Kutz and daughter-in-law, Melanie Kutz. They talked about cow housing and how they recycle, using the nutrients for crops.
Two more family members talked about the calves. A few were born during the tour, so some students witnessed a 15-minute-old calf being fed colostrum.
The local veterinarian talked about animal care.
The career station shared the multitude of ag careers. Other stations included land preservation, feeds, beef, swine, and sheep. The "How to Grow a Pizza" station was a creative display reminding them all the ingredients were grown on a farm. There was also a llama, an alpaca, and dairy goats available for the students to learn about.
Kutz Dairy is a family farm milking 1,900 Jerseys and farming 2,000 acres. Ron and Pam Kutz, along with their sons and wives, operate the dairy. It started with just 10 cows in 1973, demonstrating the entrepreneurial spirit of dairy farmers. This also helps the students, and maybe more importantly, their teachers and parents, to understand a family farm can be large in scale.
Even if you are not hosting an event, there are behind the scenes jobs that make the event a success. Show your dairy pride and consider volunteering a few hours of your time to make this June a "Dairy" important month.
The author is the online media manager and is responsible for the website, webinars and social media. A graduate of Modesto Junior College and Fresno State, she was raised on a California dairy and frequently blogs on youth programs and consumer issues.