FFA brings mobile dairy classroom to Hillsboro Elementary students


If you can’t bring elementary school students to a dairy, why not bring a dairy to the school?

The officers of the Hillsboro High School FFA chapter did that April 10 when they hosted the Southwest Dairy Farmers mobile classroom for fourth- and fifth-graders.

Southwest Dairy Farmers, based in Sulphur Springs, Texas, is an alliance of dairy operators from Kansas and four other states. The producers pool their resources to provide consumer education in nutrition, to promote dairy-product use and provide dairy-product information.

During 2011, the organization’s 14 mobile dairy classrooms made presentations to more than 875,000 people at fairs, festivals, livestock shows and school settings.

Ralph Keel, the presenter for the one-man, one-cow “dairy” at HES, promoted milk consumption and explained, literally, the ins and outs of the dairy business—from the feed that goes into each animal to the multiple benefits of the milk and even the waste that come out.

“The FFA officers made the comment afterward that they thought it was a great hit and we will have to do this again next year,” said Sonya Roberts, FFA adviser. “(Keel) also commented that the elementary students were a great audience.”

To sweeten the presentation, the HES students made homemade ice cream in the lunch room afterward, with assistance from the FFA officers.

“We counted the students off into groups of four and they teamed up with an officer,” Roberts said. “They went down a line and filled a Baggie with the ingredients—milk, whipping cream, sugar and vanilla—then put the Baggie of ingredients into a larger bag of ice and rock salt.

“We then wrapped the bags into a towel and allowed the groups to shake them until ice cream formed—about 10 minutes,” she added.

“They loved it.”

Roberts said the FFA officers had wanted to host the SDF mobile unit for quite some time after seeing a booth promoting it at the state fair. But its arrival turned out to be somewhat spontaneous because of a schedule cancellation.

“We really wanted to do this activity during National FFA Week, but they were booked,” she said. “We really lucked out in having them come (Tues­day).”

This was the second event the FFA officers have organized for HES students. They hosted a petting zoo earlier this year for the youngest students.

“We are really trying to come up with more activities to conduct in the elementary school for ag awareness,” Roberts said. “We have two grades we have not conducted an ag activity with.”

The FFA team, led by president Aaron Klassen, included Lauren Geis, Taylor Carlson, Nathan Unruh, Seth Bartel, Bryce Roberts, Kale Arnold and Ethan Oborny.

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