By Misty DUPLESSIS
On Friday, mobile dairy instructor Laura LaFayette came to visit students at Lincoln Elementary School on behalf of The Dairy Council of California. She came equipped with a ton of dairy information as well as a half-ton Jersey cow named Nestle.
Six-year-old Nestle currently calls Covina High School home, but hailed from a dairy farm in Bakersfield where she was number 5362.
“When the dairy man wanted to know more about her, he would take that number 5362 and would put it in his computer. Up would pop her name, Nestle, when she had her last baby, how much milk she gives every day and when she had her last pedicure,” LaFayette said, adding that for Nestle, a pedicure involved having her hooves trimmed, not sitting in that massage chair one might see at the beauty salon.
Throughout the presentation, LaFayette mixed detailed information with jokes that made the students giggle. As LaFayette described parts of a cow’s anatomy, Nestle stood patiently – the perfect model. Students learned about cows including how they eat and how the milk gets from the cow to the kids’ breakfast tables in the form of cheese, milk and sour cream.
Students also received brief instruction on how to milk a cow using a milking claw and the process of extracting the milk, storing it in a cooling tank and the processes of pasteurization and homogenization.
One of the highlights of the morning for the students was when Nestle used her large tongue to clear out her nostrils after eating her alfalfa.
LaFayette expressed to the children how important it is to eat from all five food groups and to fit in exercise, like play, as part of their daily activities for keeping a healthy body.
“In La Crescenta, the kids don’t often get an opportunity to pet a cow or have a cow right there unless they go to a county fair, so this really puts it up close,” said Lincoln principal Stephen Williams. He added that this presentation helped bridge the information gap between farm life and suburban life.
During the question and answer portion of the assembly, the younger grades asked questions like why Nestle produces milk. LaFayette explained that Nestle started producing milk after her first baby when she was 2 years old.
At the end of the presentation, students had the chance to pet Nestle and many students described her as soft and dry. Kindergartener Andy Steed and student Ruby Heyes both agreed that their favorite part of the morning was being able to pet Nestle.
After the excitement of having just pet a live cow, the school staff also gave a lesson: on hygiene as principal Williams helped the younger students sanitize their hands before heading back to class to discuss what they had learned.