Feb. 1 2024 11:05 AM

I have found that promoting dairy products in schools is fun for students and rewarding for farmers.

To help promote dairy products to kids in our county, we served these hard-packed frozen yogurt cups from a local on-farm creamery to students at area elementary schools.

If you’re lucky, you might have enjoyed a special day at school when you were a kid that included the local dairy promotion board — and oftentimes, the dairy princesses and other royalty — treating you to a cup of ice cream or frozen yogurt.

I remember this annual occurrence fondly from years of enjoying it as a student. Then, for a few years, I experienced it as a little miss squirt and dairy princess when I got to serve ice cream to my peers and visit neighboring districts to pass ice cream out to every school building in our county. Now, I enjoy helping with this fun tradition each year as a volunteer with our county dairy promotion board.

Last week, our family helped pass out some delicious frozen yogurt at one of the neighboring elementary schools, and I was reminded how much the kids appreciate a special treat during the school day. In the past, our county dairy promotion board has brought our trailer and ice cream machines to each school where we filled cups with fresh soft-serve ice cream and passed them out at lunch.

In recent years, we have found an easier, less time-intensive system that includes getting hard-packed frozen yogurt in fun flavors delivered to each school from a local on-farm creamery. (In case you’re wondering, our source is Country View Dairy of Hawkeye, Iowa.) This allows us to just show up to the schools and pass out the ready-to-serve individual cups of frozen yogurt. The students all express a huge amount of gratitude for our visit each year and are always excited to enjoy a cup of dairy goodness during the school day.

During my time as a county dairy princess in 2012, I got to visit schools county-wide to present about dairy in second-grade classrooms and hand out ice cream as a treat to all students during lunch. I am pictured (right) with the other dairy princess, Brianna (left), during our annual county dairy banquet.

It is also tradition for our county’s current dairy royalty to visit the second-grade classrooms at each school around this time of year. This means that the students get to learn about dairy through fun games, activities, and informative presentations while enjoying one of their favorite dairy products. This is also an opportunity to have students draw dairy-related pictures that we later use as place mats at our annual dairy banquet.

Annual activities like these are always a nice opportunity for us to get off the farm (even if it is still for something dairy related) and engage with our community — all while promoting the goodness of dairy.

Molly Ihde (Schmitt)

The author dairy farms with her parents and brother near Hawkeye, Iowa. The family milks approximately 300 head of grade Holstein cows at Windsor Valley Dairy LLC — split half and half between a double-eight parallel milking parlor and four robotic milking units. In the spring of 2020, Molly decided to take a leap and fully embrace her love for the industry by returning full time to her family’s dairy.