Inspiring the next generation of dairy producers and supporters of the agriculture industry starts with our youngest learners. Through the Dairy Excellence Foundation’s growing Adopt a Cow program, elementary and middle school students can experience the excitement of watching a baby calf grow in front of their eyes. Thanks to the support of foundation donors and partners, the program has grown exponentially beyond Pennsylvania to all 50 states across the U.S. The program also reaches 40 countries across the globe and is impacting more than 1.4 million students this year alone.

Helping teachers make real-world connections

From the environment and sustainability to nutrition and the arts, the program allows educators across the globe to make meaningful, real-world connections. Students not only learn about the importance and versatility of dairy products their families consume daily, but they see firsthand how much dairy farmers care for their animals, land and communities.

Community connections

“The Adopt a Cow program makes such great connections. Students learn to appreciate where their food comes from and are able to put a face to the milk at the grocery store. It’s giving kids those opportunities to connect what they’re learning in school to what’s actually going on in the community.”

—Anna Breitbach, a first-grade teacher in South Florida

Environmental and sustainability lessons

“Students can definitely relate to the fact that water is so important and food is so important to taking care of cows. The Adopt a Cow program really sets a solid foundation for all that it takes to care for these animals. I talk to the kids a lot about how we share the air that we breathe and how that’s important for cows too. They need fresh, clean air and places to roam. I think they’re really getting the bigger picture.”


—Jayne Black, a pre-school teacher from De Pere, Wisconsin

Dairy nutrition activities

“My kids love this program and so do I. We have fun learning all year long. We have been learning about the different breeds of cows and about our host farm family. During afternoon snack time, we had string cheese and talked about the importance of having three dairy products a day.”

—Stephanie Sattazahn, an elementary teacher in Berks County, Pennsylvania

Music and art correlations

“The school I’m at is in a rural area, and a lot of kids are involved in agriculture, so we talk about how music impacts animals as well. I think it’s important for kids to understand where their food comes from because a lot of them do think it comes from the grocery store. This program could introduce them to the world of agriculture. Just like we need future musicians to have more music, we need future farmers to continue to feed and take care of the world.”

—Michael Klinger, a high school band and choir teacher in south-central Indiana

Continuing education opportunities

“The Adopt a Cow program has inspired a group of us to reach out to some dairy farms for more education. We are fortunate enough to have multiple large-scale dairy operations locally and found one that does school tours. This has further inspired the creation of multiple food-related tours and educational programs we are sharing amongst ourselves. Thank you for the inspiration.”

—Annie Gillis, an elementary teacher in Canada


Katie Sattazahn, a Pennsylvania host farmer who participates in the Adopt a Cow program, is one of many host farms across the U.S. who help drive the success of this program. Photo courtesy of Center for Dairy Excellence.

Supplementing classroom learning with field trips to progressive dairy farms

To supplement what students are learning in class through the program, the Dairy Excellence Foundation and its dedicated donors offer several grants each year to offset the cost of farm tour field trips. These field trips bring dairy farming to life for classrooms and allow students to talk directly with dairy farmers, creating once-in-a-lifetime memories centered around agriculture.

“I have never seen my class so engaged and wanting to learn as much as they did. Our dairy farm was so efficient in their tour and answered all of my students’ questions. We walked to the milking parlor where the kids were able to see how the Holsteins were milked, we were able to see where the milk went, where it was tested and loaded on a truck. I am so thankful to have had this opportunity with my students. This is definitely one field trip I feel my students will always remember.”

—Katelynn, a Discover Dairy agriculture teacher who received the farm tour field trip grant

“Our students and teachers learned about robotic milking, farm safety, the inner workings of a cow’s stomach and the many careers influenced by agriculture. We even tasted ice cream made by college students from the milk on the farm. Thank you for supplying the funds that made this trip possible for our fourth-grade students and staff.”

—Kris, a fourth-grade Discover Dairy teacher and grant recipient

Help give more classrooms the chance to visit a dairy farm

The host farms in the Dairy Excellence Foundation’s Adopt a Cow program are located across the U.S., and they demonstrate not only exceptional farming practices but also a genuine commitment to the success of the program. These farmers’ efforts have contributed to the program's unprecedented achievements this year, including the engagement of 39,200 classrooms, 28,806 virtual live chats with farmers, participation from all 50 states and 25 countries, and an impact on over 1.4 million students worldwide.

By sponsoring field trip grants in 2024, you can help give students, both globally and in your local community, a firsthand look at a working dairy farm. These grants aim to provide more students with a direct, on-farm experience to complement their learning through Adopt a Cow.

Consider supporting this program by sponsoring field trip grants in 2024. Email LeeAnn McLaughlin to learn more about the opportunity and become a sponsor for these memorable field trips.

Visit the center's website or call the foundation at (717) 346-0849 to learn more about getting involved.

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.