Through DairyNZ’s Find a Farmer programme, Mike has found a fun and rewarding way of giving back to the community. His latest endeavour was to show 80 school children that milk isn’t “just made” at the supermarket.
DairyNZ’s Find a Farmer programme puts teachers in touch with local farmers to give children a hands-on experience to learn about dairy farming.
“It’s amazing how many children have never been on a farm before,” says Mike. A lot of kids don’t get that exposure so these school farm visits are a good way to raise their awareness and show them how a dairy farm works.
“So many children come to the farm thinking that the milk on their cereal just comes from the supermarket, so it’s really important that they get to see what actually goes into producing it,” says Mike.
In order to impress the young troops from Knighton Normal school, Mike gave them a grand tour of what happens on the farm.
For some of the kids these visits open their eyes up to new career possibilities.
“When they first got here some of them weren’t too pleased with the smell, but we showed them some cool things and they soon forgot about it!
“The kids got to look around the cowshed and we turned the milking machines on. They seemed pretty amused by the feeling of the cups when they held their hands against it. We had the tanker arrive while they were there so they got to check that out too. At the end of the day we all had a well-deserved drink of milk.”
Not only did they learn about the history of their milk, the children, aged between five and six, also had the chance to meet some of the farm’s younger animals.
“They loved seeing the calves. That was probably my highlight, seeing them having such a good time and enjoying themselves,” says Mike. “It was a really visual experience for the younger ones – they were certainly soaking it all up.”
Having grown up in the Waikato, Mike’s motivation for hosting the farm visits goes beyond teaching children about milk.
“For some of the kids these visits open their eyes up to new career possibilities. My uncle had a dairy farm and I have great memories from my time spent there as a kid; that’s what got me into the game.”
Mike has been in the dairy farming industry for over 20 years and currently runs a farm of 600 cows. With 220 hectares of land to manage, Mike and his wife Natasha have their hands full keeping things ticking over.
“It feels really good to give something back to the community,” says Mike. “After a busy calving season the team can often feel flat, especially with the low milk payout on top of that. But after hosting the school visit we were buzzing because the kids were so excited to be on the farm which makes you feel good.”
If you are a farmer who is interested in hosting a school farm visit, register at dairynz.co.nz/find-a-farmer.
If you are from a school that would like to sign up to the Find a Farmer service or find out more about DairyNZ’s education programme, visit rosieseducation.co.nz/find-a-farmer.