TRI-STATE (WEHT) – Many people had class pets in school but they were usually small animals like guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits. What about a 100 pound dairy calf instead?

Discover Dairy is an interactive educational series offering a “Adopt a Cow” program for teachers to use in their classrooms for free to show students where milk comes from and how dairy farms contribute to the world.

The website jokes that anyone can join the program, even from New Zealand. Teachers must sign up for the program by September 15. Participants can expect to find out the calf’s name, birthday, location and how the famer takes care of her.

Teachers are eligible for the program if they:

  • Teach in a traditional classroom setting
  • Homeschool your kids/family members/friends
  • Run an after-school program
  • Facilitate a library or 4-H program or programs alike
  • Have an agriculture program at your museum or kid’s center
  • Work in a nursing home or assisted living center
  • Are one of the above and are teaching/leading from in or outside of the United States

The timeline for the program is as follows. In October, the Host Farm and Calf announcements will be sent out via email and posted to participant’s Adopt a Cow portal. The program will send out an introductory email and kit about the host farm and calf in November. The first 30,000 registrants will receive the kit through snail mail while everyone else and those out-of-the-country will receive the kit digitally.

Photos of the calf, activity sheets for students, a PowerPoint of information and photos along with a suggested Common Core approved lesson will all be sent out throughout the duration of the program to the participants to share.

In December the first update will be sent out with a second one to follow in February. The next expected update will be received in April followed by a chance in May to live-chat with the calf and host farm via YouTube.

Program officials encourage full class engagement, suggesting students write to their calf and host family. They say that the sheer number of letters farmers get makes it unrealistic for them to respond but that they enjoy receiving and reading them all. Letters can be sent here: Dairy Excellence Foundation, Attn: Brittany Snyder, 2301 N Cameron Street, Suite 407, Harrisburg, PA 17110

While the program is free, donations are always appreciated and accepted here to give students more access to these activities.