What has four wheels and is always on the “moove”? The Georgia Mobile Dairy Classroom, of course.
A dynamic educational ag program provided by the Agricultural Commodity Commission for Milk, the 30-foot mobile class travels throughout Georgia, giving youth a fun dairy experience. The program is aimed at elementary school children from kindergarten through fifth grade, helping them understand where milk comes from, how it’s processed, health benefits and how farmers manage natural resources. Nicole Karstedt, program instructor, is on a mission to spread the word about dairy while also helping increase milk and other dairy product consumption around Georgia.
“Amazingly, one in three school- age students has no idea where their milk comes from, and some think it just shows up at their local grocery store,” she says. “Brown cows give chocolate milk, according to most 5-year-olds.”
Founded in 2001, the Georgia Mobile Dairy Classroom visits around 105 schools each year and attends an average of 20 festivals and fairs around the state. Fifteen years later, the program reaches approximately 55,000 children at schools and 175,000 at festivals each year, Karstedt says.
At the classroom, children get an up-close introduction to a dairy cow, which helps teach them about the animals and how dairy production works.
“For example, I demonstrate how we prepare the cows for milking with the pre-dip, demonstrate how we milked cows by hand a long time ago, and then the fun part of showing them how the milking machine works similar to their vacuum at home,” Karstedt says.
Helping children, along with their parents and many others around the state, understand where their dairy comes from is all part of the fun for Karstedt, who grew up on a dairy farm in Madison.
“We want to give them the opportunity firsthand to see what dairy farmers feed their cows, which in a lot of cases is grown right on their farms,” she says.