Farm advice: Educating children about dairy industry

By: Heather Donaldson, DairyNZ consulting officer


School visits, which are part of DairyNZ’s Rosie Education programme, are only possible, thanks to farmers such as Amanda and Mike Williams and Jonathon Rowe

Seeing kids’ reactions to new experiences never ceases to amaze me. As the mum of two young children, I’ve seen my fair share, but it was great to recently be a part of a school visit to one of my local dairy farms in Omakau.

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Most of the 100 students, aged 10 to 11 years, from The Terrace School in Alexandra, had never stepped foot on a farm before. They were interested in everything, and I mean absolutely everything. Even the things that those of us who live on farm, grew up on one, or spend a lot of time on them, can sometimes take for granted.

The calves were a huge hit, but even the electric fences, cow poo, and walking the track to the milking shed was entertaining and a novelty. They also had question after question. It was great to see their passion to know more about dairy.

And it got me thinking, if it wasn’t for school visits like these, when else would kids like this get a chance to spend time on farm?

It seems to me that nowadays fewer children get a chance to spend time on a farm. I mean apart from A&P shows, how often does town really meet country? Unfortunately, for some children, or adults for that matter, perhaps not that often, if at all.

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Farm owners Amanda and Mike Williams with their children Kate, 10, and Sam, 7, and Jonathon Rowe

That’s why I believe these school visits are important, not only to educate children about where the milk they pour on their cereal comes from but also hopefully inspire them to perhaps consider a career in dairy when they grow up.

And from what I could see on the day, I think they do. My heart melted hearing one of the boys say he wanted to be a dairy farmer. It doesn’t get much better than that.

But these school visits, which are part of DairyNZ’s Rosie Education programme, are only possible, thanks to farmers such as Amanda and Mike Williams and Jonathon Rowe, who hosted the children on their farm.

The trio are no strangers to opening their farm gates. Last year, they invited their local school to take a tour of the farm. "We wanted to give the children, teachers, and parents a chance to see happens on farm and tell our side of the story.

"We’re really proud of what we do and want to show that to the community," Amanda says. The group have their sights set on hosting more schools. In fact, their goal is to have every primary school in Alexandra through their gates. Inspiring!

Amanda encouraged other farmers to consider opening their farm gates. "Put your hand up and give it a go; we’ve found it really rewarding."

I was impressed to find out that over the past year, DairyNZ has helped 7553 children, along with their teachers and parents, visit a dairy farm through our Find a Farmer programme.

If you’re interested to find out more about hosting a school on your farm, visit dairynz.co.nz/education.

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