A group of 70 elementary and middle school teachers from Pennsylvania and beyond provided students with hands-on learning experiences through dairy grants at local dairy farms this spring. The teachers, who are enrolled in the Dairy Excellence Foundation’s Discover Dairy program, received dairy farm field trip grants through the Dairy Excellence Foundation, Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association, and Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin.
The grants, which amounted to more than $22,000, allowed these classrooms to tour dairy farms in their community and talk firsthand with dairy farmers and their families.
During the farm tours, students discovered how farmers care for their cows, conserve their natural resources, and produce nutritious dairy products. Teachers also used the farm tour field trip as an opportunity to build connections to their educational curriculum and local community.
“Our first-grade students learned about dairy cows and how well they are cared for, what they eat and drink, and how they are milked,” said Jennifer Metzler of Williamsburg Community Elementary School in Pennsylvania, one of the grant recipients. “The highlight of the trip was seeing the newborn calves and the forage harvester. Students were also treated to ice cream after the tour.”
For dairy farmers who open their doors to host students and teachers, the farm tour field trips allow them to share how dairy products are produced on the farm and eventually arrive at the grocery store—strengthening their connections with future consumers and the community at large.
“We talked about cow care, robots, cow comfort, and they named the newborn calf. Their smiles made my day. Some of the kids started the tour withdrawn and distant, but by the tour’s end, even the most timid ones in the group wanted to shake my hand and say ‘thank you,’” said Mark Rodgers of Hillcrest Farms, Inc. in Georgia, one of the farms who hosted a field trip. “They learned a lot about dairy, and I think they will go home and share what they learned about milk, dairy products, and all the things their local farmer does to produce it and care for their animals.”
Funds from the dairy farm field trip grants can assist teachers in paying for busing, farm tours, lunch, or dairy treats. Any classroom currently enrolled in the Discover Dairy program is eligible to apply, with several grants designated specifically for Pennsylvania and Wisconsin classrooms.
“It was a great field trip. The farm has been around for 102 years. We were able to see how a dairy farm operates and learn all about cows. Dairy farms are such a big part of our town, so this trip tied in nicely with our social studies standards. Those standards include learning about important industries in our town and state. Thank you so much for helping to make this trip possible,” said Zandra Trudeau, a third-grade teacher from Woodstock Elementary School in Connecticut, one of the grant recipients.
Discover Dairy, managed by the Dairy Excellence Foundation, is an engaging, interactive, multi-leveled educational series that shows upper elementary and middle school students where milk comes from and how dairy farmers contribute to our communities.
“These dairy farm field trips give students the opportunity to get on the farm and expand on what they’ve learned through their Discover Dairy lessons and activities. Congratulations to these teachers for receiving grants that could help them plan memorable, hands-on learning experiences on local farms,” said Brittany Snyder, Dairy Education Program Manager at the Dairy Excellence Foundation.
Applications for upcoming dairy farm field trip grants will be available in the fall of 2022.