Longmont Dairy is a dairy farm in Longmont, Colo. that not only milks and cares for over 400 cows, but also process their milk on-site and delivers it to their customers across the Front Range. Between running a dairy, a processing plant and a delivery service, owners Dave and Susan Boyd definitely stay busy. David and Susan have also started the process of retiring and are working on turning the dairy over to the next generation, Dan Boyd and Katie Herrmann.
The Boyds knew they wanted to go the extra mile for the students and schools in the area they deliver milk to, so they started the Milk Caps for Mooola program. This program pays schools for the milk caps they collect from Longmont Dairy, and it also gives students at the schools the opportunity to learn where milk comes from.
Gary Schlagel, Longmont Dairy’s Community Service Director, was – and still is – the heart of the program. His favorite part of the program is helping teach students about where the milk comes from. He visits about 30 schools a year to share milk’s journey and has taught over 15,000 students to date.
“It’s really neat when the students see a video and do activities that teach them where milk comes from,” explained Schlagel. “If the class is studying a specific topic, I tie the dairy piece into what they’re doing – from math to science to economics.”
He spends about an hour with the second and third graders and an hour and half with the fourth grade classrooms, since there is so much to learn about where milk comes from and students always have great questions. Schlagel remembers fondly a time where he was able to work with a student and his family to get him to drink milk – a battle the boy’s mother had been fighting for quite some time. Schlagel will always remember how grateful she was that he managed to get her picky son to finally drink milk and get the nutrients he needed from it.
As for collecting the milk caps, Schlagel and his assistant personally pick them up from parent homes, schools and more – whatever location works best for school.
“I started out hoping to get 30 schools to sign up in the areas where we delivered milk, and sent out a few mailers saying it was available,” explained Schlagel. “But I quickly found that getting parent teacher groups at the schools to participate is what made it take off!”
Schlagel’s goal of 30 schools was quickly shattered as more and more schools got behind the program. To date, Longmont Dairy collects milk caps from, and gives money to, over 300 schools in districts across the front range. In fact, Schlagel doesn’t even recruit new schools anymore – they go to him!
In the first year of the program, the dairy collected around 25,000 caps. Now, they collect a weekly average of 40,000 caps during the school year. To date 3,750,000 caps have been collected – the dairy has paid out $175,000 to schools.
Kim Wheeler, a parent at Fairmount Elementary in Golden joined the Milk Caps for Mooola program the fall of 2013. Since then, they’ve collected 44,238 caps and earned over $2,200.
“We have 50-60 families that actively participate, it’s a great motivator for the kids as the dairy products are huge part of a healthy, active lifestyle,” said Wheeler. “In Jeffco, every penny counts so it’s nice to have this little extra. We love that Longmont Dairy is a positive community partner in giving back to our school and students. Those little caps, that could be easily discarded, add up quickly and bring great things to our school!”
Jodi Carlson, Administrative Assistant at Central Elementary IB World School in Longmont explained that various classes at her school use the caps as part of their math program before turning them in for dollars.
Carlson said people who live in homes around their school even bring in milk caps to help the school raise money through the Milk Caps for Mooola program – and that money goes a long way.
“The Milk Cap funds have supported our field trips to keep costs for students to a minimum. We have used the money to purchase two banners for our late start program reminders and used it to help purchase necessary supplies for the students whose families are unable to purchase notebooks, markers, etc.,” said Carlson. “We sincerely appreciate the funds generated for our school community and the support for Central Elementary School, we love Longmont Dairy!”
As for Schlagel, he is happy to help do the right thing – both for the schools and the environment by recycling the plastic bottle caps. When he first started the program, finding a recycler who would take the caps was a big challenge.
“Nobody would take the caps,” explained Schlagel. “But we finally connected with Western Disposal Services, and they were able to recycle them.”
Schlagel’s commitment to the program is crucial to its success – he goes out of his way to make sure donating the caps is convenient and that students understand the role dairy plays in a healthy diet and community.
Longmont Dairy is doing great things for schools, and will continue to be an asset to schools across the front range for years to come!