Squeals of delight, surprised expressions on faces, clapping, laughing and a few fingers pressed tightly against noses greeted Lexi as she visited Deer Creek Elementary School Thursday.
Five-year-old Lexi is one of 13 cows that are used by the Southwest Dairy Farmers out of Sulphur Springs, Texas, to teach Oklahoma students about the dairy industry.
Lexi is part of the Mobile Dairy Classroom, a traveling milking parlor featuring a live cow and an oral presentation given Thursday by Ralph Keel from Coweta.
As the students learned about cows, from feeding them to milking them to getting the milk from the farm to the consumer, they also got to see a cow up close and personal. The innovative program brings the dairy experience directly to the children.
Students and teachers shared the outdoor classroom experience that included math, science, health (nutrition) and agriculture.
After they learned about the importance of dairy foods for good health, students got to see the modern milking process. For many of them it was the first time, and for many of the students they learned information they had never known.
Hunter Neighbors said she learned cows had to have a baby to be able to give milk.
“I learned about how much they eat and drink and that they can’t gain weight because they give milk,” first-grader Palmer Wright said.
First-grader Addie Lindenau said, “I didn’t know their babies drink from bottles.”
A few of the students were old hands at dairy farming, some even owning their own cow or living close to neighbors who do.
“I know why they have a bump on their heads,” said first grader Grant Levescy who added he had a cow of his own. “That is where they take their horns off.”
First-grader Emmelise Warren said, “I didn’t know cows grow horns.”
Keel, a former dairy farmer, got involved with the program when he was asked to loan one of his cows to be part of the Mobile Dairy Classroom for a day trip to Tulsa.
Keel said each dairy farmer finances the Mobile Dairy Classroom with Dairy Check Off dollars. He went along to see what the program was like and to see how his contributions to the program were being used.
“I was really impressed with what I saw and when asked to join the company (as a presenter) I did,” Keel said.
Keel explained that dairy farmers sell milk by weight. A gallon weighs 8.6 pounds and for every 100 pounds sold, 10 cents goes to Dairy Check Off dollars. These monies stay in the state going back to the schools in the form of dairy education.
The Southwest Dairy Farmers is an alliance of dairy farmers from Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri. The Mobile Dairy Classroom is a division of the Southwest Dairy Museum, Inc., a nonprofit, educational program funded by dairymen across the Southwest.
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