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Classrooms 'adopt a cow' in free program led by local farmers, Discover Dairy

Cows stand in a pen at the Skyline Dairy farm near Grunthal, Manitoba, Canada, in March.
Trevor Hagan
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Wisconsin students can learn about dairy and agriculture from local farms through Discover Dairy's Adopt a Cow program.

Wisconsin classrooms are learning about dairy and agriculture by adopting a cow.

Discover Dairy's Adopt a Cow program is a free learning experience that connects students with local farmers. Classrooms learn about the first year of a calf’s life on the farm through photos, stories and lessons led by family-owned farms.

Adopt a Cow pairs three Wisconsin-based farms with schools to share updates on the calf throughout the school year. In spring, classrooms can live chat with the host farm.

Karen Doster, the director of school programs for Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin says the program has helped students understand where food comes from and how local agriculture impacts the economy.

"Food does not start in the grocery store," Doster says. "Believe it or not, there are still a lot of students who think that's where you get your food."

Doster says Discover Dairy uses the tagline: "Forget the guinea pig, how about a 1,500-pound calf as your classroom pet?"

She says some classrooms have made bulletin boards of their calf using pictures, birth information and more.

"The schools that do that are really taking that to a step where it really is making an impact on the whole school, or the classroom, depending upon how they're using it," says Doster.

The nation-wide program came to Wisconsin in 2020. When it launched, Doster expected participation from about 1,500 students. She says over 70,000 students have "adopted a cow." The farms involved in this year’s program include Vision Aire Farms LLC in Eldorado, Synergy Family Dairy in Pulaski and Orthridge Jerseysin Lancaster.

In a statement, dairy farmer Janet Clark of Vision Aire Farms said it's important to share how dairy farmers take care of their animals.

“We chose to be part of the Adopt a Cow program because we want to connect with students so they can ask questions about dairy farming and its importance to their community," says Clark.

According to Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, K-12 educators are invited to register. The program is also available for homeschool classrooms, after school and library programs, scout troops, 4-H groups and more. Interested educators should visit www.DiscoverDairy.com/adopt before the Sept. 15 deadline.

Eddie is a WUWM news reporter.
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