Mobile dairy

Students at Bret Harte Elementary in Corcoran were visited by a mobile dairy classroom where they learned about agriculture and other incorporated lessons.

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CORCORAN — Students at Bret Harte Elementary School learned firsthand about the role of agriculture in the food supply, how milk and dairy foods go from the farm to their table and were visited by a cow as a Mobile Dairy Classroom made a stop at the campus.

The Mobile Dairy Classroom, which serves as a learning lab, reaches more than 450,000 students with six full-time instructors who travel to various schools, agriculture days and fairs throughout the state through the Dairy Council of California.

Bret Harte Elementary Principal Laurie Haas said the assembly gives students a strong learning experience that helps because of their ability to learn visually.

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“We’re in an agricultural [area] and it’s important for kids to know where food they eat comes from," Hass said.

While Haas is in her first year at the school with kindergarten and first grade student, she said the Mobile Dairy Classroom has made a stop at the school previously.

Both Haas and Mishael McDougal, one of the Mobile Dairy Classroom’s instructors, said the assembly is the first chance most of the students have to see a cow up close. 

Haas said a good percentage of the students at the school have parents who work in the fields.

“Just because their parents work in the fields doesn’t mean the kids would necessarily be around dairy cows,” Haas said. “They might drive by one but they don’t seem to realize how big they really are and the more they can see physically, the more they can comprehend.”

To go along with teaching students where food comes from, the lessons are made to be integrated with language arts, math and sciences to align with Common Core standards.

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The instructor tied the lesson to anatomy by asking students where their hip was and then showed where that body part would be on the cow.

Haas said first graders wrote about the dairy visit later in the day for language arts.

Kindergarteners had the day coincide with learning about farm animals.

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Some of the other lessons in the day included food literacy, where milk and dairy foods come from, cow care on the farm, all five food groups, healthy food habits, the milking process and agriculture technology.

“There was a lot of information even the adults learned for the first time,” Haas said.

Haas said students took in the information easily.

“They do a really good job of speaking to the kids and making it something they can understand,” she said. “If you could see the faces on the kids, you can tell they were really attentive. Every kid I talked to enjoyed it to no end.”

McDougal said part of it was making the day fun for the students.

“While the students are having fun, the lessons they are learning are important… Kids enhance their food literacy skills, ultimately obtaining a better understanding of where their milk comes from, how it gets to the school cafeteria, and why it’s important to make healthy choices from all five food groups.”

The reporter can be reached at 583-2431 or jbutters@HanfordSentinel.com. Follow him on twitter @jsbutters.

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