Class pets are often a favorite part of an elementary classroom community.  First grader students of Marvina Bugajski at Gause Elementary already enjoyed two hamsters, but now, they also have a newborn Holstein calf!

“I heard about the program to adopt a calf this summer and I just had to do it,” said Bugajski.  “In early November we were assigned our family farm, Tauer Dairy in Hanska, Minnesota, and just recently were introduced to our adopted calf, Pearl.”

Over the next six months, the Tauer’s will send periodic updates, images, and videos to view plus activity sheets. The students will write letters to ask the family questions and to send caring messages to the calf. The session culminates with a live session at the farm with Pearl in April or May.

“Most children have never lived on or even been to a farm,” said Bugajski “They are so excited to have this experience and see, in a vertical way, how the farm is operated.  They will learn about feeding and caring for cows and basically what goes on at a farm.”

Many of these special activities the class will work on also match common CORE curriculum.  For instance, they will incorporate language arts with letter writing, science as they learn the parts of the cow and math as they chart Pearl’s growth.  They will even learn some geography.  “You can show kids on a map where Minnesota is but we will be able to see in photos how it looks differently there, such as trees and landscape, and even how different the weather is from ours,” said Bugajski.   “It is important to students to know there are different places out there.  We get stuck in our own world of Washougal. This will be fabulous for them!”

According to Bugajski, the Discover Dairy Adopt a Calf program is perfectly suited to remote learning.  “We might not have considered this opportunity if we were not already in a virtual classroom,” she said.

“I so appreciate the energy and commitment from our teachers to make this challenging situation into a positive experience for our students,” said WSD Superintendent Mary Templeton.  “I am proud of everyone’s efforts and the wonderful successes we are seeing as teachers offer new, unexpected opportunities in this remote environment.”

David and Angie Tauer and their family own and operate Tauer Dairy with 250 milking cows on 480-acres.  Established in 1923, they are the third generation to live on and manage the dairy farm.  The Tauers also work with the local college (University of Minnesota) to give interns an opportunity to work and live on a dairy. In the past 10 years, they have hosted 23 students from 12 different countries.

“These farm families in the program dedicate a lot of time to this project and it is so nice of them,” said Bugajski.  “They do not get paid but get the satisfaction of know they have reached these kids and given them a farm experience.”