Did you know Wisconsin’s state dairy product is cheese? (You’re probably thinking, ‘Of course it is!’) What you may not know is this wasn’t the case until a class of determined fourth graders and their dairy-loving teacher, along with 4th grade teachers Lynn Ross and Paige Grimm, helped get a bill passed in the Wisconsin Legislature in 2017 declaring it so.
Livia Doyle, who teaches fourth grade at Mineral Point Elementary in southwestern Wisconsin, enjoys opportunities to combine her farming roots with teaching students. At the start of each school year, Livia’s fourth grade class spends the first few weeks studying Wisconsin’s state symbols.
Agriculture and Government in the Classroom
“After researching and discussing the symbols, my students couldn’t believe Wisconsin didn’t have cheese as a state symbol, let alone that dairy products weren’t even on the symbols list. Enter social studies lesson! We contacted our local House and Senate members, sharing a proposal with reasons why cheese should become the next Wisconsin state symbol,” explained Livia. “I couldn’t have been more appreciative of how our elected officials dug in and helped me make this lesson reality for the class. Later that week the students’ proposal was drafted into a bill and a group of students and teachers from the Mineral Point district made the trek to Madison. The students testified in front of a joint committee hearing. The bill unanimously passed the House and Senate, and Governor Walker visited the school to sign the bill into law in front of the students.”
For Livia, agriculture in the classroom is a passion. Other classroom lessons have included making butter and ice cream, sampling real maple syrup, touring the Spudmobile to learn about Wisconsin’s potato industry and learning from classroom farmer guests how they raise cranberries and other Wisconsin staples. (Spoiler alert — Livia shared a fantastic recipe for Cranberry Cookies, which she makes for her students during their Cranberry unit. You’ll find it listed at the bottom of this post!) This past year she was recognized by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau for her outstanding work integrating agriculture and government into her curriculum.
“I enjoy opportunities to find purposeful ways to bring agriculture into my lesson plans and help my students understand how agriculture influences their life each and every day” said Livia.
“Big Brown Bug Bit A Big Brown Bear”
I first met Livia at a conference in Iowa. It always amazes me how small the agriculture community is as we quickly found common ground not only over a shared love of cheese and farming, but the Worldwide College of Auctioneering in (local to me) Mason City, Iowa.
Livia grew up on a 400-acre dairy farm where her passion for agriculture began. She completed a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from UW-Platteville before landing at the Mineral Point school district. In 2011, she married Justin Doyle. As Black Hawk School District High School Ag Instructor and FFA Advisor, he’s also a passionate instructor of Ag in the Classroom. In 2012, the couple launched a family-owned auctioneering business called On Point Auction Service, LLC. They’re raising their two children, Quayde and Gentry, on a beef farm with a Red Angus cow/calf herd.
While growing up, Livia and Justin spent a fair amount of time in their local sale barns. Auctioneering was a dream of Justin’s, so in the summer of 2012 the couple attended the Worldwide College of Auctioneering for training on bid calling and the business of auctioneering. Livia also received her certificate in bilingual auctioneering, learning techniques in both English and Spanish. One of those techniques is a warm-up tongue twister: “Big Brown Bug Bit a Big Brown Bear” “Big Brown Bug Bit a Big Brown Bear”. (I know I can’t say that 10times fast… yet. I may need some practice before I hit auction school!)
On Point Auction Service is a shared family business with a college friend, as well as Justin’s sister Melissa. They enjoy spending weekends together and helping customers get the best value for property sold at each and every event. While the business makes for some busy weekends, Livia regularly has this recipe for Cowboy Potatoes ready in the auction trailer to keep the crew operating On Point.
State Fair Cranberry Cookie
This is the recipe for the famous Wisconsin State Fair Cranberry Cookie sold at the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association booth during the Wisconsin State Fair.
2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 6-ounce package sweetened dried cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well.
In a separate mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in sweetened dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Makes approximately 2-1/2 dozen cookies.