March 2016
Youth Matters

So, where does milk come from?

  Participants learn about the parts of a goat from AU students at Dairy Goat U.

Auburn’s Dairy U and Dairy Goat U programs provide a unique hands-on learning experience for youth and adults.

When most students are asked where milk comes from, the typical response is the grocery store. This poses an issue for the agriculture industry because we are raising a generation that does not know about farming. In April, there will be two programs, Dairy Goat U and Dairy U, that attempt to correct this issue. Both of these events are run by students in Auburn University’s Animal Science 4960 class. Boyd Brady, dairy extension specialist, helped start the program and oversees it every year. Brady said he does not run the program; he is just glad the students allow him the opportunity to be a small part of their program.

Dairy Goat U is an educational, hands-on workshop about goats for youth and adults. This year, the event will be held at Stone Hollow Farmstead in Harpersville on Saturday, April 2. This will be the eighth year Dairy Goat U will be held. In the past, they have had stations like hoof trimming, breed ID, goat’s health, making butter, tattooing, common diseases and milking. There is a small registration fee and the registration deadline is March 17.

Jenny Isham along with youth and adult participants pose with Aubie at last year’s Dairy U program.  

“My favorite part is listening to the participants talk about what they did and what they learned, and wanting to come back next year. The smiles on their faces are priceless; they leave much more knowledgeable and passionate about the agriculture industry,” Brady said.

Brady helped start both programs because he wanted to provide youth with a venue to learn about agriculture in a fun environment. Dairy U was successful from early on and parents started asking for more similar programs.

“Dairy Goat U was the next logical step,” Brady said.

Even though these programs were designed for youth, adult programs had to be added to satisfy the need with that population. Both programs’ adult components have had tremendous success.

The programs started out as stations being led by only Animal Science Faculty and Extension personnel. About four years ago, the program turned into a class at Auburn University. This allows not only the participants to learn but the student leaders as well.

  Participants at last year’s Dairy U program learn from a hands-on activity.

“I am excited for Dairy U because I want to learn about the dairy industry. I grew up showing beef cattle, so I know plenty about that, but I am not as familiar with dairy cattle. I look forward to all that Dairy U has to teach me,” said Taylor Evans, an Animal Science Pre-Vet student from Wilmer.

Dairy Goat U started in 2010 with 40 people and grew to 127 people last year. Jenny Isham, a senior Animal Science Production Management major from Bayou La Batre, helped Brady plan the event last year and is looking forward to helping this year as well. She loves the program because it bridges the urban-rural gap.

“Kids may not go into agriculture – they may be business owners, stay-at-home parents, sanitation workers or doctors,” she said. “We need all different types of professions to function as a society, but this event helps people understand what farmers do and how hard they work to produce food and fiber for a growing population.”

Dairy U is a hands-on educational event for youth and adults focusing on dairy. This year it will be hosted at the Auburn University’s Stanley P. Wilson Beef Teaching Unit on April 23. The past events have included stations like injections, milking demonstration, skeleton and composition, bacteria, hormones and Dippin’ Dots. There is a small registration fee and registration is due by April 1.

The Dairy U program started with 50 people in 2008 and has grown to 160 participants last year.

“I really enjoyed my Dairy U experiences from the past six years. Dairy U is a unique program, and you do not even have to be familiar with the dairy industry. It is a day jam-packed full of fun and is totally worth a Saturday,” said Shelby Anderson from Auburn.

Anderson has attended all but one Dairy U program since 2008. Last year was the largest attended program in its seven-year history.

Each program provides hands-on activities, knowledge, a meal, a t-shirt and a participant bag full of goodies. At the close of each program, the participants are presented with awards – dependent upon years of participation. The awards in the past have consisted of certificates, cow bells, old-time milk bottles and a belt buckle. But the awards are not the reason to participate in these programs. They provide children with hands-on knowledge about the dairy and dairy goat industry that is difficult to learn anywhere else but on a farm. Come learn about all sorts of dairy, no prior experience required!

The events are hosted in cooperation with the Auburn University Animal Science Department and the Alabama Cooperative Extension Services. For more information, contact Boyd Brady, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., in the Department of Animal Sciences at Auburn University.

Michelle Bufkin is is a freelance writer from Auburn.