Local students adopt a cow virtually

Local students have a chance to learn more about where their food comes from by adopting a cow.
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 8:36 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Local students have a chance to learn more about where their food comes from by adopting a cow.

“It’s just a great way to show kids and teachers what dairy farming is all about,” said Jennifer Lambert with the Lambert Farm in the town of Washington.

No, participants don’t have to house the animal. The farm takes care of that and offers information about the adopted calf. “Daily life of a cow, what it looks like, what it feels like, how long do they get milked for, how long are they with their mothers,” said Lambert.

She says as dairy farms are lost, the disconnect grows between consumers and their food. Enter a virtual opportunity through the Dairy Excellence Foundation to bridge the gap for students.

“What it does is it offers kids a chance to connect with a dairy farmer in their state and they get to adopt a calf, which is really exciting,” said Jill Hussels, a school nutrition specialist with New England Dairy.

New England Dairy in partnership with the Dairy Excellence Foundation offers the Adopt a Cow program. They piloted the program this year and are wrapping up lessons now with registration for next school year now open.

Hussels says as they look ahead to year two, students and teachers are already engaged. “How is milk produced? How is a cow cared for? What else do dairy farmers do?” Hussels explained. She says having virtual insight provides access to students who don’t live near dairy farms. “It allows the students to build that connection to a farmer, and it really lays that groundwork that builds that trust and appreciation for dairy. Kids want to know where their food comes from, and having this opportunity to connect directly allows them to ask the questions and find out where their food comes from.”

There are 70 classrooms learning from their cows this year in Vermont. The program works with more than 36,000 New England students, all for free. But organizers want to reach more.

Lambert Farm is Vermont’s host farm and they are looking for more farms to get involved. “We want to be a part of our communities and be an important element, and I think this is just one more way to get that conversation started,” said Lambert.

The program kicks off again this fall.

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