September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Milk is important for all ages

By Christine Reitsma- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Snow days were always the best days of school. Though my older sisters never liked school being canceled, I was always excited to spend the extra day at home. Not only was I able to sleep in for a few precious minutes, I knew I could spend the entire day outside on the farm. A smile would always be found on my face as I trudged through the recently fallen snow to feed the cattle. Though the long hours of bedding and making sure the calves were taken care of left me far more tired than a day of school would have, I was more than happy to be outside with the cows. After chores, hot chocolate was always a must, and because my homework was all done, I could relax with my family. While snow days were a great break, it was always refreshing to get back to school the next day with friends and share the stories about what went on during the unexpected vacation. Now that I am in college, I have a new appreciation for those extra days spent out on the farm.
Recently, rather than sharing stories of snow days, I have been able to share stories of my farm days with consumers. My latest experience of sharing this story came during a visit to Park Brook Elementary School as I was able to teach students how milk traveled from dairy farms to their table. The students all knew how important it was to have their three servings of dairy, but many of them did not know how the milk reached their table. I shared photos from my farm with more than 250 students, many of who had never been on a farm. The students were separated into two groups, a kindergarten to third grade group and a fourth to sixth grade group.
The younger students loved looking at the feed samples I had brought and comparing them with what they ate that day at lunch. The kindergartners were shocked by how large a calf's nursing bottle was and many of the third graders could not believe that a cow produced over ninety glasses of milk in a day.
The older group of students were more curious about what happens to milk after it leaves the farm. We were able to talk more about what happens during pasteurization and how milk was then changed into their favorite snack- yogurt. I was excited to describe to them the process of making yogurt, which then led to questions about cheese and how chocolate milk was made.
After the presentations, I toured the cafeteria and heard about the school's successful Fuel Up to Play 60 program. I was impressed to learn about the changes the school had made in order to help the students choose healthy options when it came to their lunches. One option the school had was allowing the children to make their own salad at the salad bar. There were also plenty of posters within the cafeteria that stressed the importance of eating healthy and getting their three servings of dairy every day. The school has also showed the students ways to get their sixty minutes of exercise in with new activities such as snowshoeing. I am happy to hear about how Fuel Up to Play 60 programs are making a successful difference in lives here in Minnesota.
In addition to sharing stories from my farm with elementary students, I continue to share the story with college-aged students as I have begun my second semester at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. New classes allow me to interact with a large group of people who do not have a connection to agriculture. I very willingly share a farmer's point of view and share how important agriculture continues to be in their lives even though they do not live on a farm. I am glad that I am able to make a positive difference with students of all ages. I look forward to continuing to advocate dairy at all levels of schooling.
Christine Reitsma is the 59th Princess Kay of the Milky Way and a student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Her parents, Paul and Carolyn Reitsma, milk cows and farm with their family in Sauk Centre, Minn. If you have a consumer-focused appearance for Princess Kay, contact Seena Glessing at 320-282-6337 or e-mail her at [email protected].

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