Amanda Griffith brought Daisy as an exhibit of the Alabama Dairy Farmers Mobile Dairy Classroom. The "classroom" program, which originates from the Southwest Dairy Farmers trade group based in Texas, visits 120 schools in the state of Alabama each school year.
“Many students haven’t been up close to a cow before and if they have, they don’t know much about it,” said Griffith, the Alabama-based instructor for the mobile classroom program. “They don’t put two and two together when making the connection that’s where their cheese and ice cream come from.”
The program includes a 50-foot truck and trailer and cow. Griffith taught the students about cows, the nine nutrients in milk and how milk goes from the cow to the grocery store.
Griffith does a milking demonstration during each program. Before milking Daisy, she said Daisy produced chocolate milk on April Fool’s Day, and she still couldn’t figure out how.
“Let’s see what kind of milk we get on one, two, three,” Griffith said as she squeezed one of Daisy’s four teats and squirted milk toward the students.
They squealed, “It’s white!”
Griffith has been traveling the state with the Mobile Dairy Classroom for almost five years. She said the most common question is if the cow is a boy or girl.
“That’s when I say do girls or boys make milk,” Griffith said. “Sometimes they get it and sometimes they don’t.”
Alexandria students yelled, “She’s a girl!” when asked if Daisy was a boy or girl. Some still weren’t sure if she produced chocolate milk or not.
Connor Fisher, an 8-year-old second grader, said his favorite part was when they milked the cow.
“Daisy only makes chocolate milk on April Fools Day,” Fisher said.
Griffith said students and teachers are always excited about the program. She said she emails the Alabama State Superintendent about twice a year saying that she is scheduling visits to schools; those visitations are claimed quickly.
“It’s not just dairy. It’s agriculture in general,” Griffith said. “Years ago people had a dairy cow and their own garden. The younger generation isn’t exposed to agriculture anymore.”
Rhonda Smitherman, Alexandria Elementary School guidance counselor, said the school wanted to provide the opportunity for students to experience milking a cow first hand.
“We want the students to be aware and educated so they can make healthy choices,” Smitherman said. “This is an opportunity where we can introduce them to pasteurizing and how milk gets to grocery stores.”
According to Griffith, there are fewer farmers each year. She said there are now 55 dairy farmers in the state of Alabama while in the 1930s, there were 88 dairy farmers in Shelby County alone. Griffith is a native of that county.
Griffith said general knowledge of and interest in agriculture isn’t as prevalent as it once was.
“I’m not only speaking to the kids. I’m speaking to the teachers. I’m speaking to the mommas who go out and buy milk for their babies,” Griffith said.