HARRISBURG, Pa. — Discover Dairy’s “Adopt a Cow” program will be open for enrollment for the 2020-21 school year beginning August 1. The free program is a year-long, interactive learning opportunity that gives students an inside look at a dairy farm in their community through exciting activities featuring the calves on the farm and the dairy farmers who manage the operation. 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.
“As we approach the upcoming school year, we realize the learning environment looks very different for teachers and students across the nation. Whether your classroom will be in-person or virtual, or a mix of both, the Adopt a Cow program includes activities and curriculum that can be incorporated into every mode of instruction,” said Brittany Snyder, Dairy Education Program Manager at the Dairy Excellence Foundation. “Through virtual chats, videos, photo updates, and more, the program is an exciting way for students to watch a calf grow throughout the year and learn how dairy farmers are impacting our communities.”
Each classroom that enrolls in the Adopt a Cow program is paired with a calf from a dairy farm. Teachers and students receive photos, video updates, and activity sheets throughout the school year that allow them to watch their calf grow. Through immersive, hands-on learning activities and free curriculum provided by Discover Dairy, students gain a deeper understanding of the dairy industry and where their food comes from. Several of the lessons in the curriculum follow Common CORE standards in Math, Reading, and Science.
The Adopt a Cow program also offers live virtual chats and farm tours. These chats allow students to talk directly with a dairy farmer, meet their calves, tour the farm, and ask questions about milk production.
“The Adopt a Cow virtual chat gave my students the opportunity to have a fun, positive closure on a year-long project in which my students were highly engaged,” said Angela Eyth, an elementary teacher in Butler Area School District, Pennsylvania. “This new way of learning has been challenging for all involved. The opportunity to participate in the virtual chat was pleasantly familiar and provided a sense of normalcy.”
Last year, more than 25,000 elementary and middle school students from across the United States, Mexico and Canada participated in the program. Schools from both rural and urban areas can enroll, bringing dairy farming to life for students of all ages and demographics.
“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,” said Becky Kleinfelter, an elementary teacher in Eastern Lebanon County School District, Pennsylvania. “[During the live video chats], the kids actually came up with some really good questions that I couldn’t always answer. It was nice to give them the chance to ask the farmer themselves.”
After registering for the Adopt a Cow program, teachers will receive an introductory kit in the fall with details about their calf. Classrooms will receive bi-monthly updates, including suggestions on components of the Discover Dairy curriculum that teachers can incorporate into their virtual or in-person lesson plans.
The sign-up period opens on August 1 and closes on October 15, 2020. To enroll in the Adopt a Cow program, visit discoverdairy.com or call the Dairy Excellence Foundation at 717-3460-0849 for more information.
–Emily Barge, Center for Dairy Excellence