Mobile Dairy Classroom teaches students the real value of a cow
June 13, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 14, 2012) -- The Center Library hosted the Southwest Dairy Farmers Mobile Dairy Classroom June 8, as hundreds of attending youths learned about the anatomy of a cow and the nutritional value of milk.
"Basically it's a mobile dairy on wheels," said Amanda Griffith, Mobile Dairy Classroom instructor, adding that she operates on a year-round basis except for late July and early August, when temperatures during the day can get dangerously high. "I travel throughout the whole state of Alabama and do free milking demonstrations for the general public."
There was much more to see than a free milking demonstration, as Griffith instructed hundreds of people on the different types of cows, the types of food cows eat to produce milk, and the importance of pasteurization -- or "past-your-eyes," as the children learned the phrase.
They also learned that cows can produce up to 50 pounds of milk a day, the equivalent of about eight gallons. Griffith explained that a cow's teats must be sterilized before milking can begin, and then surprised the crowd of youngsters by playfully squirting a little milk in their direction.
"It extends their education as far as being exposed to different things," said LaChelle Garcia, an instructor with the child, youth and school service's Strong Beginnings program, adding that Griffith did a great job of engaging the children and explaining things in depth while keeping it simple.
Kiley Davis, one of the children with Strong Beginnings, was eager to tell what she had learned. "The cow has four teats," she said, adding that her favorite part of the class was "when the milk got in the machine."
Jonathan Schwegler, one of Kiley's classmates, also wanted to show how much he remembered from the lesson. "The cow has four stomachs in one," he said. "Cow's milk has vitamin C and vitamin D. [My favorite part was] petting it."
"Most of the time it's schools that I reach out to, but this time of year we do libraries, summer camp programs and weekend events," said Griffith. "A lot of these younger kids aren't exposed to cows and milk, and if you ask them where their milk comes from they think it comes from Wal-Mart or Publix.
"They kind of take the cow out of the equation, so we show them that their milk really does come from a cow," she said.
"It's a wonderful experience," said Sandy Milstead, education technician with the child development service program. "We do 4-H club during the year, so it's just neat to know that they have this for our children. [We bring them] for them to learn proper nutrition."
Even after the teaching and milking demonstration was done for the day, several parents stayed in the area with their children for a chance to get up close and pet the cow.
"We're here because we signed her up for a reading program," Andrea Clubb said with a nod to her young daughter, who was busy stroking the cow's head. "I think she had a good time."
"The main thing is just talking about the importance and the nutritional value of milk, because a lot of people don't realize how much nutrition is in milk," said Griffith when asked about her main goal and drive as a Mobile Dairy Classroom instructor. "I love dairy; I just love working with cows. This is my fourth year doing this program. They're pretty gentle animals and very relaxed."