An important aspect of June Dairy Month is dairy education. So, today I spent some time at a cooperative child care (more about that later) asking three and four year olds dairy related questions. As a dairy farmer myself, I was elated to hear that every one of these energetic souls knew that milk came from a cow and cows eat grass, although one little girl said that was "ewww!"
I did learn that no matter how much personal experience I told them I had on the topic, they would not believe me when I told them chocolate milk is made, not produced by “brown, little cows.” They were also very adamant about their image of what a farmer looks like. One little girl, who had already stood and was now inching her way closer and closer to me said, “A farmer has brown hair.” This drew several nods. Then the little blonde girl sitting in the front who was very eager to answer every question added, “And he wears a blue hat,” which was followed a bit later by a quiet little boy who hadn’t said much during my question and answer session. With a wide grin he said, “And a farmer scoops up dirt!”
After the five intense minutes of questioning, I rewarded the kids by reading from a book about dairy farming. It was great to see their interested little faces watching every turn of the page and finishing the sentences before I could. The story time of my visit even intrigued a little boy who was playing with blocks and didn’t want anything to do with my earlier line of questions. He scooted right up next to my legs to get a really good look at each picture, noticing every little detail. I can tell you I was also super happy with the selection of accurate books about dairy farming my local public library carried.
As a side note-if you are ever looking for ways to improve ag literacy in your community, your local public library LOVES donations of ag-accurate books. I have done this with our FFA chapter as well as for a memorial of someone who cared deeply about agriculture. Our local library carries stickers to put in the front cover of the books with who the book is in memory of or who it was donated by. If you are having a hard time finding ag-accurate books, a good place to start is the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. They have a great, searchable list for all ages of kids!
Being somewhat of a novice to group story time, I did make a giant mistake. I closed the book and attempted to move on to snack time, not realizing I had forgotten to say “the end.” Don’t worry, I had 10 three and four year olds who quickly and loudly reminded me!
Then came probably the most rewarding part of my visit, watching the kids devour, and ask for more, string cheese and chocolate milk. The fact that they liked this delicious and nutritious snack reminded me why dairy farming is so important, and renewed my faith in my husband’s chosen profession, even if we won’t see him until after 9:00 tonight for dinner!
Now for the super cool cooperative day care info. Since Cooperative Resources International (CRI) is a holding cooperative and two of its three subsidiaries are also cooperatives, CRI decided entering into a venture with two other local companies to form a cooperative child care center made sense. This unique business structure allows parent members to serve on the board of directors and vote as the need arises. I love that these companies saw a void in the community and decided a cooperative was the best way to address it!
Enjoy the last few days of June Dairy Month and take a few moments to educate those around you about the industry – young or old, at a cooperative or not – you will be glad you did!