Dairy trailer becomes class project

Iowa’s Delaware County enlists partner for update

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    MANCHESTER, Iowa – The trailer operated by the Delaware County Dairy Promoters is plenty popular in the summer, visiting the Edgewood Rodeo, the Fourth of July festival and the county fair, among other events. But to keep serving its popular ice cream products, it needed an update.
Enter Del Co BEST, a class that provides work-based education at West Delaware High School. The class took on the project of updating the trailer, from budgeting, to researching supplies, to ripping out the old and installing the new components.
The reward for the six students enrolled: free ice cream during the Delaware County Fair this year.
Conveniently,   Abby Goldsmith of Earlville is the teacher, whose dairy farmer husband, James, is a member of the promotion group. James farms with his parents, Jim and Kristi, milking 150 Holsteins. In her teaching role, Abby was identifying possible projects for the class, and remodeling the dairy trailer came up in conversation with her husband.
“I jokingly said, ‘Maybe I should have them work on the dairy trailer,’   ” Abby said. “Then we looked at each other and said, ‘Wait a minute.’ ”
Other projects were considered, but the students chose this one. The group members were all familiar with buying ice cream products from the trailer, and several are active showing beef cattle and in FFA.
The 20-year-old trailer is set up with two large shake machines, a twist cone machine and one to do sundaes and mix-ins. The dairy promoters made a list of what needed to be done and handed it off to the class.
“It’s going to have a new fresh look,” James said. “And I told everyone it should be good for another 20 years.”
James said part of the new look for the 20-foot trailer will be an outside wrap provided by Midwest Dairy. But with supply chain challenges, that is delayed.
“It’s going to have a new fresh look,” James said. “And I told everyone it should be good for another 20 years.”
Inside, there is a new floor, new stainless-steel countertops, sink and water heater. Some of those items were a bonus, however.
The students decided how to stage the project.
“They took it upon themselves to do a new floor,” James said. “We gave them an initial list – our wish list. They found a few other things.”
The most challenging part, Abby said, was tearing out the old floor.   
“The linoleum came up really easily, but below that was a lot harder than we thought,”   Abby said.
James agreed.
“Believe me, tearing out the subfloor in that thing was pretty time consuming,” he said   . “But it was sure better for (the dairy farmers’) knees and backs that these kids did it.”
Because some of the students had to end work early due to graduation and baseball team commitments, the four Goldsmiths did the installation of a rubber floor after the students replaced the subfloor.
The rubber flooring will be less slippery and easier to clean.
Another component on the wish list was a water heater.
“We weren’t sure we could make a water heater work,” James said. “They found a little 2.5-gallon heater that plugs into the existing electrical board.”
All told, James said the final bill for the interior will be about $3,000. The outside wrap will cost more, but Midwest Dairy’s contribution will offset the cost.
Past Del Co BEST projects have included installing exercise signs on a community trail, fundraising and making blankets for a nursing home, and building a chicken tractor for moving poultry between grazing spots.
But, James said this project was special.
“I think something we didn’t appreciate, that I came to learn from this, was how excited (the students) were to be doing this,” James said. “I think these students have probably eaten their worth in ice cream from that trailer at various past events, so they were very familiar with it.”
He said the dairy trailer goes to family-oriented events, so the promotion group’s goal is to be affordable.
“When it’s affordable and it’s dairy, that’s even better,” James said.
Abby said the trailer project was a good one for her students, giving them the chance to practice what she calls 21st century skills like communication and conflict resolution.
And as dairy farmers, the Delaware County Dairy Promoters appreciate the work.
“We were just really grateful to the kids,” Abby said. “With us all being dairy farmers or connected to dairy, we probably wouldn’t have gotten it done without them.”
The class is administered on a pass-fail basis.
Not surprisingly, Abby said every student has passed.

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