December 13, 2021 at 9:45 p.m.

Moovin’ Mini the mobile dairy ambassador

Youth outreach connects children with food source
Moovin’ Mini is parked outside the Save Cows headquarters in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The Mini Cooper was wrapped to look like a Holstein cow as part of a youth outreach program started in 2019 by Melanie Burgi and Kimberly Evert. PHOTO SUBMITTED
Moovin’ Mini is parked outside the Save Cows headquarters in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The Mini Cooper was wrapped to look like a Holstein cow as part of a youth outreach program started in 2019 by Melanie Burgi and Kimberly Evert. PHOTO SUBMITTED

By Abby [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

BARABOO, Wis. – Melanie Burgi and Kimberly Evert are bridging the gap between food and farm with a unique form of youth outreach. Within the Baraboo area, the two have been connecting with young people through the use of a Mini Cooper car wrapped in cow print and finished with eyelashes on the headlights.
“Kids just love to see a cow car with eyelashes,” Burgi said. “If we can get their attention and give them a tidbit of information, then that’s more than what was done before.”
The idea took form in the fall of 2019 when Burgi, who works with Evert at Save Cows Network, considered selling her red Mini Cooper. She normally parked the car over the winter months and felt the car could have a greater purpose.
“One day I walked into her office and Melanie said, ‘I think we should wrap the Mini Cooper to look like a cow and put eyelashes on it,’” said Evert.
Evert and Burgi contacted a local man who wraps racecars, and Moovin’ Mini became a reality. The pair had big ideas of visiting schools and daycares, and participating in parades. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic halted some of those plans.
“We couldn’t really do what we were hoping to the first year,” Evert said.
Evert and Burgi remained enthusiastic about their idea and were able to do a few promotions in 2020. They partnered with local businesses, including Carr Valley Cheese, Cedar Grove Cheese and a local ice cream shop, each of which also promote dairy.
“It seemed like the one way that we could get out into the public without doing an event,” Evert said.
Moovin’ Mini has been more active in 2021. Evert has taken the vehicle to daycares and schools. When she visits daycares, they have story time, and Evert reads a book that paints a modern picture of large dairy farms.
“It’s more realistic to educate on big farms, because in this day and age, that is more likely where these kids’ milk is coming from,” Evert said.
During the events, Evert also discusses the nutritional benefits of dairy products. The children take home souvenirs like frisbees, cow hats and dairy-themed worksheets.
“We try to make it a fun and educational experience,” Evert said.
Burgi and Evert realized how many kids do not have a tie to a farm, and they wanted to get information to these kids in a fun and creative way.
“Kids don’t necessarily get on farms as much anymore,” Burgi said. “If we can somehow bridge the gap with a cute car, then why not?”
Evert agreed.
“I came from a school with very few people and almost everyone had someone in their family who had a farm,” she said. “Now, that’s not the case.”
Evert has also collaborated with other organizations with similar goals to promote dairy. When schools were shut down and parents were able to pick up lunches for their kids, Evert worked with the Sauk Prairie FFA Chapter to hand out gallons of milk to families. She also took the cow-painted Mini Cooper to the fourth grade class with FFA’s Food for America program when they visited a farm.
“We like to put attention on how farmers take care of their animals versus what some people believe might be happening,” Evert said. “We do this by focusing on how farmers care for their animals to produce the most high-quality product that in turn feeds the bellies of kids at school and at home.”
The pair also gears their promotions toward places like the Boys and Girls Club because typically those kids are from urban communities.
The two women also use social media to advocate for dairy. For National Grilled Cheese Day in 2021, Burgi and Evert bought bread from a local bakery and used cheese donated from Carr Valley to make sandwiches for their coworkers. They parked the Mini Cooper in front of the business and posted pictures and dairy trivia on social media to bring awareness to their mission.
When Burgi and Evert participated in Baraboo’s Butterfest parade, they handed out mini cow pies from the Baraboo Candy Company in another effort to partner with local businesses.
All of the promotions and the development of Moovin’ Mini relate well to the hoof care business where Burgi and Evert are employed.
“All consumers can spot a lame cow regardless of their experience in the industry,” Burgi said. “We are trying to communicate the truth about how farmers take care of their animals, and the truth about calves and cows and what their life is really like.”
Moovin’ Mini is parked for the winter, but Evert and Burgi are hoping to be more active in 2022.
“I would like to get into schools more and have a day that’s truly focused on all students coming out and seeing Moovin’ Mini and doing more activities in the classroom,” Evert said.
Burgi is looking forward to doing more parades and is hoping to expand on the educational aspects Evert has started. In the meantime, she is having fun with the new venture.
“We get a thrill out of this,” Burgi said. “It’s a place to put creative energy, and we have fun.”


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