“I never really knew what it meant to grow up on a farm until I left,” says Lottie Page, who was raised on her family’s Thistle Knob Farm in North Haverhill, New Hampshire, one of the 800 Cabot farm family owners. “It taught me how to work hard, live life and enjoy it, and not complain about the little things,” she reflects.Lottie Page learned a lot from growing up on her family’s farm. As a new teacher, she plans to connect her students with local farms for all kinds of education! #cabotcheese Click To Tweet
Lottie left Thistle Knob for college, where she earned a degree in elementary education this past May, but, like many farm kids, she never truly left the farm. She was happy that she was close enough that she could come home on weekends to continue her 4-H activities and help out with the herd of 100 Holsteins on the 200-acre farm. Of course, she missed her parents, Jeff and Labette, and her older brothers, Jasper and Heath — but it didn’t really sink in how much she missed the cows until she walked into the barn the first time after being away. “That smell just hit me hard,” she says. “It just smelled like old barn and warm animals and home.”
This fall, Lottie will start a full-time job teaching fifth and sixth grade in Vermont just over the border from her seventh-generation family farm. She is excited to launch her career and also to help connect her students to the area’s agricultural heritage and leverage the fascination many kids have with animals to bring a variety of lessons to life.
Lottie traces her interest in teaching back to her childhood involvement in 4-H. Not only did she get to travel, make new friends and build confidence through showing cows, but she watched the senior 4-H’ers mentor the younger ones, and enjoyed taking on that role herself as she got older. “I liked being able to teach the younger kids things and talk to them about my experiences,” she says.
During high school, Lottie also mentored students at the local elementary school. While she was at Keene State, she worked with the local co-operative extension to bring agricultural education to the grade school near her college campus. Each week over 11 weeks this past spring, Lottie planned and executed 90 minutes worth of hands-on activities for about 15 youngsters. They learned about farming and cheesemaking; developed grilled cheese recipes and made milkshakes; and even got to meet and name a day-old calf!
Earlier this summer, while also working on the farm and coaching softball, Lottie planned an agricultural education day at a nearby school with a circuit of stations set up in the playground. Local farmers brought dairy and beef cattle, working steer, and there was also a wool-spinning demonstration. With her own students this coming fall, Lottie plans to incorporate agricultural into her curriculum with regular monthly visits to her best friend’s dairy farm right down the road from the school. “We’ll start with science because we’re learning about the water cycle,” she explains. The real-life example of how much water a cow needs to produce milk will really bring the water cycle to life for the kids, Lottie says. “It’s so easy to use farming to teach math, science, writing and social studies.”
While helping bring educational concepts to life is her first priority as a teacher, Lottie has an important secondary goal. “Everyone nowadays is so disconnected from agriculture,” she says. “I don’t think people realize how much dairy farmers really contribute to food and jobs and our communities. If kids know where their food comes from, they’ll talk to their families and expose more people to what actually goes on at a farm.”
Are you an educator looking for programs to bring farming closer to your students? Check our free resources!
Get this informational and fun-filled nutrition activity kit developed by our friends at National Agriculture in the Classroom that ensures students K-9th grade understand the importance of dairy and calcium in their diets!
Our free Fueling Head to Toe educational patch program teaches kids how dairy products make from the cow into all the great dairy products they love and why dairy is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.