The Dairy Council of California actually brings cows to schools in their Mobile Dairy Classroom program! Not only is this program free, it provides a host of grade level learning tools, literature, coloring pages…you name it. Many teachers obtain grade level literature from the Dairy Council throughout the year as many concepts directly correlate to learning segments. K-3 students learn new vocabulary words, life cycle and anatomy concepts, and follow milk from the cow to the container to the table. 4th/5th graders discover the ruminant digestive system, lactation cycle, agriculture technology, and trace milk through processing. Both lessons include agriculture’s contribution to the food supply, the nutritional value of dairy foods and how they complement other foods to create a healthy diet.
Five years ago, Traci Oberman, parent at Cherry Chase Elementary School, discovered Dairy Council’s Mobile Dairy Classroom program and was excited to find that not only did the program come with a wonderfully engaging assembly and curriculum materials teachers can use throughout the year, the program is free! She approached the principal at the time, who was wholeheartedly enthusiastic about bringing the program to Cherry Chase, helped to rally teachers’ support, and coordinated logistics for the assemblies to take place.
The Mobile Dairy Classroom consists of a trailer carrying a dairy cow and a calf. The presenter drives the cows to the school, sets up the presentation on the black top, starts the presentation with the cows in the trailer, out of sight from the children so when he opens the door to the trailer, the children are surprised to see the cow. The presentation material is age-appropriate for the grade-level of the audience and delivered in an interactive, question-and-answer style, keeping the children fully engaged, participatory, and interested. The assembly ends with students lining up for an opportunity to pet the calf. After stopping by a hand sanitizer station, the students return to their classrooms with their teacher.
This year, Pam Murdock, Health and Education Materials Assistant for the Sunnyvale School District, worked with Megan Mirijanian, Community Nutrition Advisor for Dairy Council, to bring the Mobile Dairy Classroom program to the district’s other elementary schools. Cumberland, Ellis, Fairwood, Lakewood, San Miguel, and Vargas participated in the program. This popular program rotates throughout the state visiting school districts every three to five years. Sunnyvale will not be eligible again for three to five years.
Contributors: Traci Oberman, Pam Murdock, Nina Wong-Dobkin