We live in an insidious food culture. A culture where food decisions are made on feel-good emotion and a mindset of local, simple, ecological and clean. Idealistic, but not always based on truth.
This idealistic viewpoint often leads to negative comments and views about our product. Isn’t milk bad for you? Why do you give cows supplements? Isn’t that simply to increase your profits? Aren’t there are antibiotics in milk that can harm our children?
This sampling of views and misinformation mingled with a questioning consumer environment, caused Western Dairy Association (WDA) to increase our awareness of, and participation in, this conversation. Partnering with the Colorado Future Farmers of America (FFA) Foundation, we gathered select Colorado agriculture instructors to begin the dialogue and cast a vision for creating dairy advocates. The outcome was to create a curriculum walking students through the dairy value chain, teaching them about dairy farming from feed to table.
Utilizing Colorado State University (CSU) ag education professors and interns, the initial curriculum was drafted and sent to ag teachers and FFA advisors throughout Colorado. During the 2013-2014 school year, WDA staff observed and interviewed teachers using the curriculum. In late spring, CSU staff, WDA and teachers gathered to review the experiences and initial outcomes from the curriculum. Through powerful conversation, objective feedback and a partial re-write, the vision is about to be realized. The nine comprehensive lessons will include each step of the dairy value chain, lab activities to increase comprehension and application of concepts, as well as videos portraying important dairy farm practices. Teachers also have opportunities for dairy farm field trips.
Launching this fall through a series of webinars, conferences, email announcements and one-on-one coaching, the Dairy Value Chain curriculum will be available to high school agriculture teachers and FFA advisors in Colorado and beyond.
WDA has created a page on our website specifically for housing the curriculum plus additional resources about the dairy industry. An online curriculum vs a hard-copied curriculum allows for ongoing modifications to align with our ever-changing industry.