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Dairy education comes to Hilmar Cheese

Dairy education comes to Hilmar Cheese

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POSTED June 11, 2010 9:18 p.m.

Learning how to milk a cow, scan ear tags and dress like a farmer are just some of the things visitors can experience at the new interactive dairy exhibit at the Hilmar Cheese Company.

“I think it’s great,” said Ashley Ahlem, dairy exhibit visitor. “It is interactive for the kids and they learn things about the industry.”

Hilmar Cheese cut the red ribbon on Thursday to open up their new exhibit to the 75 visitors that were first ones to use the interactive stations.

“We are trying to help people understand that food just doesn’t come from the supermarket,” said John Jeter, Hilmar Cheese Company chief executive officer and president.

Children from all over the area learned where their milk comes from, how to keep cows healthy and how a dairy is ran, all through interactive activities.

The majority of that day’s speakers all expressed a common reason for the excitement of this new exhibit and that is to teach people from all over where their milk and cheese comes from.

California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura told attendees at Thursday’s event about the time he showed children how carrots are grown and one child said “you are trying to fool me, that’s not how carrots are grown.”

Most children don’t understand how their food is made and where it comes from, he said.

From a child’s standpoint, the rumor is that brown cows make chocolate milk, Kawamura said.

“The goal of this exhibit is to educate more youth to give them a better understanding of how food is grown,” he said.

Lee Anderson from Merced County Schools expressed his excitement for the enrichment and exposure of science for the students.

Not only is Hilmar Cheese hoping to educate youth from around the Valley about the dairy industry, but the California Tourism Commission is also hoping that this will be a future hot spot for tourists from all over the world.

“They want to touch and feel what California is about,” said Shelly Cook of the California Tourism Commission.

Cook said most people want to really get a feel for what California is about and that means going to places other than San Francisco and Los Angeles. People want to know the heart of California and that is agriculture.

The new dairy exhibit opens up to the public on Monday. The exhibit will be open daily and visitors can take a tour of the visitor center Monday through Friday.

Guided Visitor Center tours start at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on the weekdays. The 11 a.m. tour is $3 per participant and includes an ice cream making activity. The tour at 1 p.m. is free and does not include the ice cream making activity. Free guided tours are given on the weekends at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Those interested in taking the guided tours can contact Hilmar Cheese Company at 667-6076 for more information.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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