By: Miranda Blagg
Dairy Council of California’s Mobile Dairy Classroom is the original Farm to School agricultural literacy program. Since its inception in the 1930s, the Mobile Dairy Classroom has educated millions of students throughout California, bringing the farm experience to life and teaching important lessons about the role of agriculture in our food system, the journey of milk and dairy foods and the role different foods play in creating a healthy eating pattern.
Throughout each school year, the organization’s six Mobile Dairy Classroom instructors visit elementary schools, agricultural events and fairs throughout California. Accompanied by a live cow, each instructor provides two fun and engaging lessons where students learn new vocabulary, the anatomy of a cow and the route milk takes from the cow to the refrigerator. These lessons give instructors the chance to bridge the gap between agriculture and the food students eat, resulting in a greater awareness of the role agriculture plays in a healthy diet.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close their doors in March 2020, Mobile Dairy Classroom instructors had to be innovative and begin exploring new ways to support educators and students as they transitioned into distance learning. Mobile Dairy Classroom partnered with Nepris, a platform that connects industry professionals with educators to bring virtual lessons to students. The first virtual lesson, The Original Farm to You with the Mobile Dairy Classroom, was viewed by over 18,000 students throughout California and the U.S. The success of this first lesson paved the way for Farm to You Virtual Field Trips.
Partnering with Real California Milk, Mobile Dairy Classroom instructors created Farm to You Virtual Field Trips. During these virtual field trips, students learned about California dairy farming through a live farm tour and question and answer session with a dairy farmer. Over a six week period, more than 40,000 students and families discovered dairy farming through an up close and personal tour. They were able to see the young heifers and their playfulness, the nutritious feed being mixed up for the cows and the cows being milked. In addition to experiencing an inside look at a dairy farm, students learned about the nutritional benefits of milk and dairy products.
The responses to the Farm to You Virtual Field Trips were very positive, with one teacher from Modesto, California sharing, “This was a well-orchestrated event and the actual time on the dairy made it feel very authentic.”
Though the 2019-2020 school year ended, there will be more opportunities to attend a Mobile Dairy Classroom assembly in the near future. As districts make decisions about what school will look like in the fall, Mobile Dairy Classroom looks forward to adapting to the changes and continuing to educate students about milk and dairy foods and their importance in a healthy eating pattern, whether that’s in-person or through a virtual assembly. Learn more about the Mobile Dairy Classroom and find fun, educational extension activities and classroom handouts to supplement learning and reinforce the ideas taught during the presentation.
Miranda combines her passion for people with agricultural knowledge and communications expertise in her role as an office coordinator.
1st grade teacher, Michaela Nealy, shares why she teaches nutrition education and the importance of food equity for her students.
How Nutrition Education and School Meals Work Together to Support Healthier Students