Health Professionals get Farm to Fridge Dairy Experience

Jan 5, 2018
group of RDs on a farm tour

Dairy MAX, your local dairy checkoff, invited 35 DFW-area current and future health professionals to the Southwest Regional Dairy Center in Stephenville, Texas for a farm tour in November.

Tour attendees included dietetic interns from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center as well as Tarrant Area Food Policy Council, Tarrant Area Food Bank, Dallas Dietetic Alliance. Through their roles as health professionals, they share the message behind the health benefits of dairy foods and experiences of the farm-to-fridge story. On average each of the health professional participants impact more than 27,000 consumers per year.

“We know health professionals are removed from the farm but still want to know more about food and where it comes from,” says Katie McKee, MCN, RDN, LD, health and wellness Program Coordinator for Dairy MAX. “Our role is to bring them to the farm as health and wellness professionals, let them experience it and tie in the importance of dairy foods in a healthy diet.”

According to McKee there can be a lot of confusion surrounding dairy foods and what is considered safe and clean eating in today’s online chatter. The purpose of the tour is to eliminate the confusion, reassure any doubts and form positive, first-hand experiences attendees can share in their professional roles.

The Southwest Regional Dairy Center, where the tour was held, is part of Tarleton State University’s dairy program and serves as an educational and outreach resource for the community. The facility is a working dairy farm and classroom – providing the combined opportunity to see a day in the life of a dairy cow with educational materials, such as nutrition benefits and myth-busting facts about dairy. Attendees of the farm tour had the opportunity to see a milking in the milking parlor, discuss the dairy cows ration at the center, and interact with Dairy MAX’s Health and Wellness Team in the classroom.

Ellisa Jimenez, a graduate student at Tarleton who works at the dairy center and participated in the tour, says another positive benefit of the tours was interacting with the dietitians, chefs and food professionals and relating her role in dairy to the roles of their professions.

“Part of my role is dairy nutrition,” Jimenez says. “Much like they understand balancing carbs and proteins in meals, I too have to balance the cows’ rations depending on their performance. Having the chance to break down their diets and what goes in to caring for the cows seemed to really resonate.”

Both Jimenez and McKee received positive feedback from participants and intend to bring more health professionals on future tours, expanding Dairy MAX’s network of advocates.

“Thank you for all your help with both Food Science Lab and for arranging the dairy tour. Your contributions to our program are greatly appreciated. The students were still talking about the tour in class yesterday, and not just how cool the cows were. So, it was a big success.”—Tad Campbell, MCN, RDN, Faculty Associate, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

To learn more about Dairy MAX’s health and wellness initiatives, and how Dairy MAX works to reach more consumers, visit