Female farmers demonstrate leadership through Adopt-A-Cow


SAINT PAUL, Minn. – There are many facets to being a dairy farmer – from running the day-to-day operations to community outreach and connecting with consumers Through Discover Dairy’s Adopt-A-Cow program, dairy farmers throughout Midwest Dairy’s 10-state region have seen the tremendous benefits Adopt-A-Cow has in connecting with a younger generation, showcasing life on a dairy farm. Over the last four years of the program, women have accounted for 77% of the dairy farmers in the Midwest region involved in Adopt-A-Cow, allowing them to demonstrate the important role females play in agriculture and dairy farming. 

Now gearing up for its fifth year, Adopt-A-Cow is a free, nationwide program that connects local dairy farmers with K-12 classrooms, allowing them to “adopt” one of the calves on the farmer’s dairy farm. Throughout the school year, the dairy farmers send updates about the adopted calves and the happenings on their farms. During the 2021-2022 school year, seven dairy farmers from the Midwest Dairy region connected with over 3,500 classrooms and 74,000 students.

“Telling the story of agriculture is something I take to heart,” said Paige Roberts, a dairy farmer at Jer-Lindy Farms and Redhead Creamery in Brooten, Minnesota. “I didn’t grow up on a dairy farm, so I understand where people are coming from when they don’t know what goes into the gallon of milk at the store.”

The Adopt-A-Cow program has helped Roberts share her dairy story and the workings of her farm with others. During the school year, Roberts shared updates about three calves – Alexa, Alljoy and Caroline – with 415 classes and over 11,000 students in Minnesota.

Plus, she is widening the view of who a farmer is and how females play a larger role on dairy farms.

“It’s a good way to show kids that farmers are not just the old man in the overalls,” Roberts said. “Women can be in charge of the farm if they want to be. Anyone can. If someone wants to farm, they should.”

Dairy farmer Jodi Cast has been allowing classrooms to adopt calves from her dairy farm, JJC Jerseys, in Beaver Crossing, Nebraska, for the past two years. The information Cast shares about her calves includes their name, birthday, height, weight, what they eat, their housing and all other basics of caring for a young dairy animal.

“These kids form an attachment to their calves,” Cast said. “They just really want to know their calf is being taken care of and that you love that calf as much as they do.”

Cast has been able to share her love for her calves and dairy farming through this checkoff-funded program. This past school year, Cast and her calves, Abby, Pepper, Kady and Queenie, connected with 269 classrooms and over 6,200 students in Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.

“I’m reaching a lot of kids and students I wouldn’t normally reach,” she said. “It’s important to teach kids where their food comes from. It’s a lot of fun to make that connection and show kids what’s involved in getting that product to your table.”

Like Roberts, Cast is proud to be a part of the dairy farming community. Most of all, Roberts, Cast and the other farmers involved in the Adopt-A-Cow program are happy to open their farms to give students a real-life experience of how dairy farmers care for their animals, the environment and their communities – resulting in a positive experience at the dairy case in grocery stores.

“It goes back to telling your story,” Cast said. “Farmers are trusted by the consumer. They want to hear it from us.”

They encourage other dairy farmers to sign up for the program to connect with local kids in their surrounding communities.

Farmers who are interested in participating in the in the Adopt-A-Cow program can sign up at https://www.discoverdairy.com/dairy-promotion/for-our-farmers/.