By Sara Tischauser
Wisconsin is commonly referred to as America’s Dairyland and one program is working to educate the youth about the importance of the dairy industry.
Kelly Oudenhoven is one of the program managers along with Michelle Evers for the Adventures in Dairyland Program and she said this program has been around for many years and continues to educate youth about dairy.
“The Adventures in Dairyland Program focuses on giving fourth graders an opportunity to learn more about the state that they live in and to discover the dairy industry, from the animals, to the farm, to the food we enjoy,” Oudenhoven said.
This program combines book learning, classroom learning and a hands-on look at a farm.
“The Adventures Program focuses on the fourth grade curriculum and teaches the students the process of farm to table as well as going into dairy products and other by products we get from cows,” Oudenhoven said. “It is a six week course with volunteer instructors going into classrooms to teach the program. The program also includes a field trip out to a local dairy farm for the students to see a farm up close.”
Oudenhoven said the Adventures in Dairyland Program was started in 1982 by UW-Extension Agent Jeanne Baum.
“The Outagamie County Dairy Promotions had been a sponsor of the program for many years,” Oudenhoven said. “In 2016, the Outagamie County Dairy Promotions and Outagamie County Farm Bureau became partners in the program with UW-Extension and an Advisory Committee was formed.”
As part of the program fourth graders get an Adventures in Dairyland booklet. Oudenhoven said they have also added additional resources to be used for the program.
“The booklets also got a face-lift and went from black and white booklets to a full color booklet,” Oudenhoven said. “We also incorporated technology into the program and created an interactive PowerPoint to go along with the program as well as videos. This past year, UW-Extension stepped out of the program due to budget cuts, so the program is now being financially supported and run by the two organizations.”
This program, Oudenhoven said can help educate those who may not know a lot about the farm and where their food comes from.
“Youth gain an insight into the industry that is very important to their state,” Oudenhoven said. “The dairy industry contributes 44.3 billion dollars yearly to [our] states economy. Many consumers are so far removed from the dairy industry that it is pertinent to give them first hand knowledge and insight into our dairy farms.”
Also, Oudenhoven said this program can help students learn the truths about dairy farming and possibly dispel any incorrect ideas the students have about dairy farming.
“It is important to teach about the dairy industry as we want consumers to be able to see first hand the time and care that goes into taking care of cows,” Oudenhoven said. “With all the negativity that gets circulated about farming, it is important to bring them out to the farm and let them see first hand how well cows are taken care of. This industry is important not only to them as it provides them with food, but also many other by-products that many people don’t think about.”
Oudenhoven said she is happy to help anyone else who wants to participate in the program. She can be contacted at (920) 378-4744 or emailed at email@example.com.
“This program is free for schools to participate in,” Oudenhoven said. “They will have to fund the bussing for the field trip, but the booklets and curriculum are provided at no charge. If someone would like to volunteer to teach the classroom portion, they can reach out to me and we will get them all set up with a school. If a farm would like to come on board with us for farm tours, they can also contact me. We are always open to both.”