Once owned by the Frazier and Camerlo families, Camerlo Dairy has represented a dedication to community and education. The current owners, Carol and Bob Hammel, plan on keeping that effort alive.
The legacy was born when the Camerlo family donated land for Fremont Elementary School to be built on. Now the school sits next to the dairy, with its track and playground just yards away from the pens. The dairy is even a safe zone for certain areas of the school in the event of a lockdown.
After buying the dairy, the Hammel family has maintained a relationship with the school that goes past just being close in distance. Every year they invite the entire third grade class for the ultimate field trip: to tour the dairy and witness how milk gets from the farm to table. Anywhere from 50 to 100 kids come out to the dairy each year, and the Hammels make it a family affair with the help of their children and grandchildren.
“We bring them through the whole dairy so they can see from start to finish,” says Carol Hammel. “It’s amazing to see how much the kids and adults learn.”
The Hammels don’t need validation for the impact they’re making by giving these tours, but Carol admits the joy she gets out of reading and keeping the 100 or so thank you notes from the students every year. Most of them walk away interested in the dairy industry and where their food comes from, some even asking if they could have jobs on the dairy someday.
Although Florence is a small community, the Hammels see the opportunity to make a big difference. A lot of children move in and out from urban areas, causing them to be removed from agriculture. Busting common dairy myths and explaining them in a way kids can understand is something about which Carol is passionate. Using common analogies like comparing eartags to earrings and giving students hands-on experience with a milking machine help the Hammels explain cow care. They also bring in farm equipment and milk trucks for display.
“It’s important for kids to learn about agriculture at a young age,” says Carol. “They’re open and receptive to know where milk and dairy foods come from. We like to put information on their level so they can understand our cows are part of our family.”
When they aren’t giving elementary tours, the Hammels are spreading dairy’s story to others in the community, like 4-H groups and senior citizens in surrounding areas. Sharing the dairy story with the public has become a big part of their life and will continue Camerlo Dairy’s impact for years to come.
“Bringing people on our dairy picks up our hearts,” Carol says. “They’re making us feel twice as good as we’re making them feel. It’s part of who we are.”
Visit the Dairy Discovery Zone website for more stories about farm families in the Dairy MAX region.
This blog is brought to you by Dairy MAX.
PHOTO 1: Students from Fremont Elementary School tour Camerlo Dairy. Photo provided by Carol Hammel.
PHOTO 2: Carol and Bob Hammel with guests visiting Camerlo Dairy. Photo provided by Carol Hammel.