The 14th annual "Great Dairy Adventure" consumer education day is July 20 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Michigan State University Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education.
The free one-day event is geared to the young (and young at heart), families, day-care providers and summer campers, and anyone who is interested in knowing more about cows, how milk and dairy products are produced from cow to grocery store shelf, and the dairy industry as a whole.
Attendees will discover the multi-step journey milk takes to reach our refrigerators and the nutritious benefits dairy products provide. It's also an opportunity to talk to and learn from local farmers and ask questions about how food gets from the farm to your table.
From making and eating a cheese "bug" to sitting on a tractor to touching and smelling the feeds that cows eat, there are a variety of activities and educational stations. Children of all ages can take their turn milking a cow by hand, petting calves, experimenting with dairy recipes and creating craft projects, all while learning about various segments of the dairy industry. MSU athletes will also be on site to pose for milk mustache photos with participants.
In addition to free ice cream, milk, cheese and yogurt and take-home projects, participants will have a chance to visit one-on-one with MSU large animal veterinary students during hands-on activities with cows. Parents and people who work with children will receive nutrition education materials that include simple, tasty recipe ideas to try at home. Everyone is encouraged to bring a camera to capture memories in the making.
The family-oriented and volunteer-operated event keeps growing in attendance each year and is a popular field trip for many summer children's programs and a fun family outing.
"For many day-care providers, day camps, summer school programs and such, the Great Dairy Adventure is an annual event," says Carla McLachlan, MSU 4-H and animal science event coordinator. "Every year I begin receiving calls in early January from schools and day cares to get the date so they can be sure to attend!"
The United Dairy Industry of Michigan will distribute commemorative backpacks to each participant to carry the handouts, giveaways and prizes that will be distributed at the Great Dairy Adventure.
"Our hope is that kids, parents and day-care providers learn about the importance of including dairy products as part of a balanced diet," McLachlan says. "Additionally, we'll be sharing information about where those nutritious dairy products come from and putting a face on the ones who care for the cows 365 days a year to make sure we are producing and delivering a safe and wholesome product to consumers."
The Great Dairy Adventure is part of the largest dairy event in Michigan, the Michigan Dairy Expo, a six-day event that brings together 4-H clubs and dairy farmers from across the state to compete in different contests. Youth compete in breed shows and showmanship contests; vie for awards in dairy cattle evaluation, quiz bowls and management contests; sell or purchase dairy animals; network with friends and industry colleagues; and celebrate the dairy industry. Winners of the youth contests earn an opportunity to represent the state at national contests later in the year. Additionally, dairy producers from across the state compete in open class breed shows organized by the Michigan Purebred Dairy Cattle Association. The overall champion of the purebred breed shows is awarded the Supreme Champion award at the conclusion of the annual Expo.
The dates for this year's Michigan Dairy Expo are July 18–23.
There is no admission fee to participate in the Great Dairy Adventure, and parking is free. Picnic areas will be set up on the northwest side of the pavilion, and MSU Concessions will be selling food and beverages on site. All activities will take place inside the pavilion, which is accessible to wheelchair-users.
The MSU pavilion is located on the MSU campus on Farm Lane between Mt. Hope and Forest roads.
For more information about the Great Dairy Adventure or the Michigan Dairy Expo, contact McLachlan at 517-432-5402.
For additional information about dairy farming and the nutritional benefits of consuming dairy products, visit www.michigandairynewsbureau.org.