Students from St Peter Chanel School in Hamilton (ages five to seven) used learning resources from DairyNZ’s in-school education programme before visiting the Coombes’ farm in North Waikato. Farm host Grant Coombes says the students confidently shared their knowledge with him during their visit.
“I was really impressed by how much work they’d done in the classroom. They even knew how many litres of milk a cow produces on average daily,” he says. “They were all very inquisitive. Most of them had never been on a farm before, so it was really cool to give them an experience they might not otherwise have had.”
The children picked up a lot while on the farm, too. When they weren’t learning about where milk comes from, different types of feed, and the purpose of effluent ponds, they could be found rolling down grassy hills, petting calves and playing a game to see who could whistle or moo the loudest.
“The kids were keen to get out and look around,” says Grant. “I tried to give them a fun experience and inject humour where I could. It’s all about getting their boots dirty and having fun.”
Teacher Katrina Murphy enjoyed seeing her students come out of their shells over the course of the visit.
“A lot of the students had never been close to cows or calves before, so they were a bit nervous at the start of the day,” says Katrina. “By the end of it, they’d overcome their nerves and were happily letting the calves suck on their fingers.”
Back in the classroom, the students created a detailed map of the Coombes’ farm (pictured below), complete with cows, trees, tractors, a milking shed, milking cups, an effluent pond, and, of course, farmer Grant.
“The children came home with so much knowledge about dairy farming thanks to Grant. They were even telling the older classes about where milk comes from,” says Katrina.
Grant says it’s crucial for dairy farmers to be open about the awesome work they’re doing, and to give urban children, parents, and teachers first-hand insight.
“It’s so important that we open up our businesses and tell our story to kids, mums and dads, and teachers around the country. To be a part of their learning experience is really rewarding.”
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy February 2019