This year, the Dairy Excellence Foundation rose to the challenge to meet these needs and helped expose more than 1 million students – from Pennsylvania and across the globe – to the world of dairy farming.
From the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow program and virtual farm tours to on-farm internships and multiple scholarship opportunities, the foundation’s team is passionate about helping future dairy leaders gain leadership and hands-on experience. We also work to help future consumers develop a clearer understanding of where their food comes from through the immersive Adopt a Cow experience. By refusing to limit ourselves during such a demanding year, the foundation has achieved exponential growth and raised the bar even higher for the organization and the programming we provide to the next generation of dairy.
The foundation’s next-generation educational programming would not be possible without the support and charitable giving from donors and contributors. This year, more than 600 donors raised the bar and came together to help foundation programs successfully achieve a high level of growth.
Here are some highlights from the past year:
- Discover Dairy program expands reach through hybrid learning experiences. As classrooms continue to adapt to ever-changing learning environments, the Discover Dairy program provides elementary and middle school teachers with meaningful ways to bring agriculture into the classroom – whether students are in-person, virtual or in a home school setting. Even as schools return to in-person instruction, the foundation continues to offer a mix of both hands-on and virtual experiences, including farm tour field trips and virtual live chats. More than 9,900 classrooms are enrolled in the Discover Dairy program, impacting 346,000 students.
“I like the farm tour field trips because they are hands-on, and I think kids need to learn about agriculture and where their milk comes from. The whole hands-on experience is really beneficial to them,” said Chrissy Blycheck, a first-grade teacher in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, who received a grant for a farm tour field trip.
- Adopt a Cow program brings dairy farming to life for students of all backgrounds. As a flagship component of the Discover Dairy program, the “Adopt a Cow” program grew on a national and global scale this year. At the heart of the program is the ability for elementary and middle school students to watch a baby calf grow in front of their eyes throughout the school year. This year’s program not only helped introduce dairy farming to more than 800,000 students, but it sparked connections and inspired creativity during a year where the pandemic impacted many families and school systems.
“I have never heard a class ask about a cow so much. They were very inquisitive when it came to the calf, but normally it’s hard to get them to talk. Thanks for giving us something positive to look forward to during this time,” said Tiffany Williams, a teacher from S.L. Mason Elementary in Valdosta, Georgia.
- On-farm internships pave the way for the next generation of dairy. From gaining business skills and an understanding of dairy management to building relationships with professionals across the dairy industry, this year’s On-Farm Internship Program helped seven college students cement their passion for dairy. In a year where in-person instruction was not always possible, gaining experience at the farm level was even more rewarding for this next generation of dairy leaders.
“Coming from a smaller farm background, you definitely have to look at a larger farm as more of a business operation. I’ve learned how to make hard decisions both in business and in the herd. I am now able to make better treating decisions and have a larger skill set I could use to become a fresh cow manager, which is highly desirable in the industry,” said Caroline Arrowsmith, who interned at Pine Tree Dairy in Marshallville, Ohio.
- Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow program helps high school students achieve career goals. To help high school students get a head start on a future career in the dairy industry, the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow program provides courses, certifications, on-farm experiences and scholarship opportunities. This year, as students learned in a wide range of learning environments, the foundation adapted its programming to offer virtual farm tour options and guided teachers who used the DLT program as an independent study with students. The program is in 45 states and impacts more than 20,400 high school students.
“I recently made the Dairy Business Management course independent work for students. I have found it nice to use for independent study students. It’s hands-free for me as a teacher, and as students work through the course, I can look at their progress. The DLT program also gives me a great opportunity to take students out on the farm. Once you take them to the farm, it’s an ‘aha’ moment where they can connect things and put their education to work,” said Stephanie Balmer, a high school agriculture teacher at Solanco High School in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
To learn more about the Dairy Excellence Foundation, or to get involved in its programs and support its mission, visit Center for Dairy Excellence
With less than 2% of the U.S. population directly involved in production agriculture, the Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation of Pennsylvania was created to expose students to agriculture-related careers and inspire the producers, consumers and advocates of tomorrow. The following is an overview of the foundation’s recent impact.