California Milk Advisory Board: Operation Cow School for At-Home Kids

The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) represents the state’s dairy farm families, whose 1.7 million cows produce approximately one-fifth of the U.S. milk supply annually. One of CMAB’s roles, alongside the Dairy Council of California, is helping promote California dairy products to consumers of all ages, including schoolchildren.

Each year, thousands of kids participate in a special rite of passage: in-school assemblies with the Dairy Council’s Mobile Dairy Classroom or on-farm tours hosted by California dairy farmers where students get to speak bovine with cows, watch udders squirt milk, and screw up their noses at poo while discovering how milk gets from the cow to the cup.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered California schools, cow encounters were canceled. With minds wandering during virtual class, teachers needed help, and both organizations needed a way to teach children where their milk comes from.

The Ketchum CMAB team had an idea: send whole herds to kids — virtually — and bring interactive farm excitement to the pandemic classroom. We partnered with Dairy Council, tapping into their existing Mobile Dairy Classroom agricultural literacy program and created a virtual field trip program in just 10 days.

We adapted the Council’s existing curriculum and trained farmers to create an online cow school. To promote the experience, we posted on social media and directly invited teachers to sign up their classes. Teachers and students logged on for virtual dairy farm trips, which we broadcasted twice daily.

In just six weeks, 10,000 students, educators and family members in the U.S. and abroad tuned in to more than 50 live virtual farm trips, with 84% of teachers saying they’d recommend the experience to others. also picked up the program, extending our reach via its 2.3 million visits per month.