Step aside routine classroom pets of Guinea pigs or terrarium frogs. First grader students of Marvina Bugajski at Gause Elementary have welcomed a newborn Holstein calf, virtually that is.

“We participated in this program to adopt a calf last school year and the students really enjoyed it,” said Bugajski.  “We were recently introduced to our family farm, Groeneveld Family Farm in Monroe, Washington and just met our adopted calf, Felicia.”

Over the next six months, the Groenevelds 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 Felicia in April or May. The program activities support aspects of the first-grade curriculum.  Language arts are incorporated in letter writing, science is learned with parts of the cow and math as they chart Felicia’s growth.

“This is such a fun way to provide children with a farm experience,” said Bugajski “They will learn about how the farm is operated and feeding and caring for cows. This year we have the special connection that the farm is in our state.  The kids were so excited to find out where it is on the map.”  Last year’s calf, Pearl, lived on a family farm in Minnesota.

Students were delighted to meet their new class pet. “The calf looks cute and happy where it lives,” said Emmalyn Pfeifer. Students are also very interested in learning more about the farm itself.  “My Nana has 50 chickens and has a farm,” said Penny Andrews. “It must smell bad with so many animals,” remarked Emma Russell.

According to Bugajski, the Discover Dairy Adopt a Calf program had been perfectly suited for her students during remote learning last school year. “Even though we are back in our classrooms, students are benefiting from the technology and experience we have to bring the outside world into our schools,” she said.

“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 knowing they have reached these kids and given them a farm experience. We look forward to learning about and watching Felicia grow as a class.”

Anna and Chris Groeneveld and their family own and operate Groeneveld Family Farm in Monroe, Washington. On their farm, they care for 270 milking cows on a 500-acre farm. Established in 1938, Farmer Anna is passionate about her farm and dedicated to raising good, healthy animals.