CREAM Students Provide Hands-on Learning at 4-H Bovine Bonanza

A group of 4-H youth participants stand in front of the UVM Miller Farm barn.
Students gather for the 4-H Bovine Bonanza at the UVM Miller Farm. Photo credit: Brady Miller.

Story by Brady Miller, UVM Food Systems major and CREAM student.

The 4-H clover stands for head, heart, hands, and health. 4-H is an Extension program that educates children of all backgrounds through hands-on experiences. It is an astounding program that the members of UVM CREAM are excited to have various opportunities to work with.

A UVM student shows 4-H participants how to score for body condition on dairy cows.
Body condition scoring. Photo credit: Brady Miller.

On November 4, 2023, kids of all ages lined up at UVM’s Paul R. Miller Research and Educational Center for a day of “Bovine Bonanza,” an event coordinated by 4-H Livestock Educator Wendy Sorrell and CREAM Advisor Dr. Stephen Wadsworth. This cow-filled day featured an intensive workshop for children and their parents to dive deeper into the world of dairy farming. For some, it was familiar as they live on farms themselves, for others it was a chance to see cows up close and learn how the industry works.

It is imperative for children to see where food comes from and the work that goes into producing it. The CREAM program assembled several stations throughout the barn, giving both a tour of our facilities and hands-on experiences with our wonderful cows. These stations included:

  • Nutrition – learners reached into a model fistula.
  • The basics of milk production – students were able to try milking a cow.
  • Reproduction and birthing processes – students learned different birthing positions and tried their hand on a model.
  • The microbiology of cows – students mimicked plating for infections.
  • Body score conditions – students walked around and scored the cows.
4-H students standing around a table watching and performing a science experiment.
The hands-on microbiology station. Photo credit: Brady Miller.

This whole process not only brought the community together at UVM in order to teach future generations, but also gave the CREAM students a chance to step into the teacher’s role and test our gained knowledge and skills. We learned how to adapt ourselves depending on the age group of our audience, as the age range was quite large. More importantly, the experience gave us confidence in ourselves and our abilities in the world of dairy.

Connecting with the young minds interested in farming was a major uplift during this stressful time of year. It was a reflection of how far we have come over the last two semesters while reminding us that there is a lot that the future holds.

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