Mobile Dairy Classroom visits Reagan Elementary

Mobile Dairy Classroom instructor Mishael McDougal used a dairy cow as a visual example to educate Reagan Elementary students about the role of milk and dairy products. DANIEL LEON/CLOVIS ROUNDUP

Reagan Elementary School students stepped outside the classroom Wednesday for a special assembly involving a dairy cow.

In a presentation led by Mishael McDougal of the Dairy Council of California, students from four different grade levels learned about the the role of agriculture in the food supply, the journey of milk and dairy foods from farm to table, and the importance of a balanced diet.

“We actually go to a different elementary school every single day,” said McDougal, a Mobile Dairy Classroom instructor who covers Kern County all the way up through Chowchilla. “It’s a great opportunity for kids to get an up-close look at an animal that is a big part of our agriculture, and it gives them an opportunity to see where our food comes from and how that plays a role in healthy eating habits.”

Lucy, a 1,300-pound Holstein cow from Sweeney Dairy in Visalia, was the star of the presentation. From inside her trailer, she served as a visual representation to engage students during the lesson.

For many of the kids, it was their first time interacting with a farm animal.

McDougal says the personal view helps students “get more of a visual of how their food does not just come from the back of a store.”

In addition, McDougal touched on topics like the anatomy of a dairy cow, the milking process and agriculture technology before wrapping things up with a quiz and Q&A session.

“In an age when children spend so much time in front of screens, an in-person, hands-on learning experience with a cow makes a lasting impact on children,” she said. “Learning about agriculture and nutrition in an interactive setting helps students appreciate the food in the cafeteria and California agriculture’s contribution to health.”

For nearly a century, the Dairy Council of California has promoted lifelong healthy eating habits through science-based nutrition education resources, Mobile Dairy Classroom assemblies, training programs and online tools.

Today, the free Mobile Dairy Classroom program reaches more than 453,000 students, with six instructors who travel to schools, agriculture days and fairs throughout the state.