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Adopt a Cow: Students Udderly Love Their New Calf

Eleanor Skillen School 34 is learning all about farm life through Natalie

Please excuse STEM students at Eleanor Skillen School 34 for the next several months as they embrace cowculus and find new ways to use a cowculator.

Under the direction of STEM teacher Pam Berg, students are learning about Natalie, a milking calf in the Adopt a Cow program. She was born on Sept. 13, weighing in at 85 pounds and 30 inches in height.

“This is a new project for our school, and I believe it will open the eyes of many of our students, who rarely go to a farm,” said Berg, who is in her first-year teaching STEM classes after 25 years as an educator. “I want the students to understand where milk comes from and how hard the farmer works each day. I want them to see the science, math, and ecology that the farmer uses in daily work. I want our students to learn respect for people who work on the farm.”

Natalie won’t be coming to Indianapolis Public Schools since she resides at Loehmer Dairy Farm in Monterey, Indiana. But the students will be milking the relationship on a regular basis with updates about Natalie, including photos and videos. The updates include lessons and activities related to her growth, how she is cared for, and how milk is produced on the farm.

Natalie’s growth charts and other information about the farm have been set up in an information area outside the school’s main office.

“I am excited to work with classroom teachers on writing projects involving Natalie,” Berg said.  “We will write to the calf and to the farmer. The older children create PowerPoints about the project that we can present to families.”

The teacher noted the entire school has embraced the new calf.

“From preschool through sixth grade, the students are asking questions about Natalie, as well as their parents,” Berg said. “This project gives us a community connection.  After COVID-19, we need that.  Connecting with this farm will bring us closer as a school and help us better understand our connection to others.’

And, if fundraising efforts are successful, the students will receive a visit from another new calf from the farm in the spring. Then, they will have a chance to seize a moo-ment with their new friend.