What do you get when you combine a fun and informative creamery tour with dairy farmers and princesses, and top it off with delicious cheese samples and ice cream? At the special Oregon Dairy Day event at Tillamook Creamery on October 20, you got 200 very excited Girl Scouts and family members. They were there to be among the first-ever to earn the new “Oregon Dairy” patch.
Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington, in partnership with the Tillamook County Creamery Association and Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, designed this new patch program to educate girls about STEM concepts, farms and food production, and the Oregon dairy industry.
The patch program encourages Girl Scouts to learn through five hands-on steps: visit a dairy farm, discover how milk is transformed into dairy products, explore dairy nutrition, and learn about careers in the industry, from dairy farmer to food scientist to food marketer. The program concludes with a taste test.
Volunteers from the Tillamook staff, along with the Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassadors, hosted interactive stations at the Tillamook Creamery Farm Experience Center to help the Girl Scouts earn their patch.
The first station featured a visit with local dairy farmers, Taryn Martin and Logan Lancaster. They were available to answer any questions the Girl Scouts had regarding milking, cow care and farm practices. “I really enjoyed the event,” said Taryn Martin. “When I was finished for the day, I had met parents and Girl Scouts from all over Oregon and Washington and was impressed at how far some of them had traveled for the experience and education. It was so much fun to answer questions from both the parents and the scouts!”
Girl Scouts also visited a station focused on nutrition and balanced diets. Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador First Alternate Megan Sprute explained how and why milk is a good source of calcium, nutrients, and vitamins.
To learn about different careers in the industry, the Girl Scouts conducted food science experiments, creating their very own yogurt flavor, complete with a variety of toppings (including edible glitter sprinkles)! They were also able to visit with a veterinarian to learn about cow care and a scientist to learn how to use a microscope to look for bacteria. The dairy scientist explained that all bad bacteria is kept out of milk.
The Girl Scouts finished their patch requirements by taking a tour of the Tillamook Creamery, where they watched the milk turn into cheese and the employees prepare packages for shipment. And of course, they were able to taste test samples of delicious Tillamook cheese and ice cream.
“The Oregon Dairy Patch program is a great opportunity for girls to discover the local food chain. It encourages them to be curious about where their food comes from, and what it takes to get it from the farm to the factory to their table,” said Lisa Gilham-Luginbill, Program Manager for Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington. “We hope they’ll learn something new along the way, and perhaps discover an interest or future career in the process.”