Many kids today are generations removed from the farm and do not know where their food or milk comes from. It is essential to Wisconsin’s economy to encourage an understanding of the importance of dairy farming and the story of dairy farm-to-table processes. Since 2020, the Adopt a Cow program, a partnership between the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and Discover Dairy, has brought interactive dairy industry learning to 3,300 classrooms reaching over 71,000 students.
Each Wisconsin classroom that enrolls in the free Adopt a Cow program is paired with a calf from a Wisconsin dairy farm. Students enjoy photos, stories, and additional educational information about the calf’s life on its farm, its food, living area, how the farmer cares for it, and more.
Beginning in the fall, the classrooms receive bimonthly snapshots including photo and video updates, and at the end of the year, they have an opportunity to participate in a live virtual chat to talk directly with the dairy farmer, meet their calf, and ask questions. Supplemental lessons and hands-on activities keep the students engaged all school year-long to explore where their favorite foods come from and gain awareness of Wisconsin’s signature industry. Also, key is that several lessons in the curriculum follow Common CORE standards in math, reading, and science.This program offers a platform for the dairy farmers involved to share their passion, devotion, and commitment to their animals and the dairy community — and beam with pride to know they can spread the dairy good story, all while building connections and trust with dairy product consumers.
“We chose to be part of the Adopt a Cow program because we believe it is important to share how dairy farmers take care of their animals,” said dairy farmer Janet Clark of Vision Aire Farms in Eldorado, Wis. “We also want to connect with students so they can ask questions about dairy farming and its importance to their community.”
The Adopt a Cow program most significantly is helping provide more knowledge about the dairy industry — through program research we see student knowledge grew by 67%, and 65% of teachers said their students were talking about dairy more often. Overall, the participants’ trust in the dairy industry grew by 18% as a result of the program.
The farms for the 2022-23 school year have each committed two or three calves to the program, and Discover Dairy will assign calves to each participating classroom. Wisconsin family farms involved in this year’s program are Synergy Family Dairy in Pulaski, Orthridge Jerseys in Lancaster, and Vision Aire Farms, in Eldorado. Thanks to these dairy farm families and others across the country, the Adopt a Cow program can continue to grow dairy industry knowledge across the state and country.
Encourage your local K-12 classrooms to register. The program also is ideal for homeschool classrooms, after school and library programs, scout troops, 4-H groups, and more. To enroll in the 2022-23 Adopt a Cow program, educators should visit www.DiscoverDairy.com/adopt before the September 15, 2022, deadline.
To learn more about Wisconsin’s dairy checkoff, visit WisconsinDairy.org.