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#Thanks4Giving highlights local dairy community heroes

You could say that 2020 has been quite a year with the triple challenge of Covid-19, wildfires and food insecurity for communities across Oregon. Following in the tradition of giving thanks, we’re highlighting people and organizations in the dairy community who have given generously to make a positive difference this year.  Join us in saying #Thanks4Giving to these community heroes.

Thanks4 Helping Schools in Need // This year hunger impacted many communities throughout Oregon.  We’d like to say #Thanks4Giving to Safeway/Albertsons and GENYOUth whose “Help Feed Families During the Crisis” campaign generated $450,000 in emergency grant funding for Oregon schools to aid them in distributing free, nutritious meals to children during the school year.  

“The support from Safeway and Albertsons has shown how communities can rise up and come together to support the needs of children.”  said Alex Singer, Nutrition Services Director for Central School District in Independence/Monmouth. 

Thanks4 Clearing the Air // We’re also thankful for Darlene Sichley of Abiqua Acres, who cared for her community during the recent wildfires by procuring 72 much-needed air filters to help clear unhealthy smoke from their homes so that her neighbors could breathe more easily.

“We may have had some difficulties, but the power of the community of helpers is greater than the fear and is the brightest light of hope,” said Darlene in a recent issue of Cowsmopolitan.

Thanks4 Helping Communities with Hunger // Incredible generosity makes for an incredible community.  When Sarah Marcus of Briar Rose Creamery heard about hunger in her community, she donated over 250 lbs of their delicious, handcrafted Fromage Blanc cheese to the YCAP Food Bank

Thanks4 Community Teamwork // And thanks to the team at Rickreall Dairy, who decided to pay things forward on their farm’s 30th anniversary by giving away over 400 bags of groceries, including fresh milk and meat from their farm, to their community.  

“We just pray that this random act of kindness will give everyone the hope they need as we all struggle through these crazy times,” said Rickreall owner, Louie Kazemier.

Thanks4 Caring for First Responders // Oregon has no shortage of farmers who want to give back. Derrick Josi, of TDF Honest Farming in Tillamook, called on his 400,000+ Facebook followers to support their local first responders during the wildfires earlier this year. His call to action resulted in a Tillamook coffee shop receiving over $1,000 to cover breakfasts for firefighters working to save homes and dairy farms threatened by the Pike Fire.

Thanks4 Feeding Families // And when wildfires swept through Southern Oregon, Rogue Creamery stepped in association with Rogue Food Unites and the ACCESS Rogue Valley Food System Network to donate between 400 and 1,000 lbs of their cheese every month to help feed families in the area, particularly those who had lost their homes in the fires.

On behalf of the Oregon dairy community, we’re thankful for you!  When you buy delicious dairy products, you support local dairy families, communities and businesses throughout the state.  Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

RELATED INFORMATION:

THROUGH THE FIRE: OREGON DAIRY COMMUNITY SHOWS RESILIENCY, GENEROSITY

DAIRY FARM CELEBRATES 30 YEAR ANNIVERSARY BY GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY

STAY HOME, STAY SAFE, STAY HEALTHY

Through the Fire: Oregon Dairy Community Shows Resiliency, Generosity

As if the year wasn’t already challenging enough, 2020’s wildfire season has been named one of the most destructive on record in the state of Oregon. Burning more than one million acres, the fires destroyed thousands of homes, and blanketed the entire state in heavy smoke for many days.

In early September, unusually high winds combined with an extremely dry summer caused multiple wildfires to expand quickly throughout the entire state, including Southern Oregon, the coast range, and the Willamette Valley. The fires caused level 3 “go now” evacuations for about 40,000 people and placed 500,000 people in evacuation zones, including more than 10% of Oregon’s dairy community.

As evacuations levels were announced, 20 of Oregon’s dairy farms were faced with the terrifying realization that they could lose their homes and livelihoods to a wildfire. Many packed up family members and moved some cattle, but in most cases the difficult decision was made to not evacuate the milking cows. Instead, farmers worked hard to create fire breaks around their farms, using their tractors to plow the ground to mineral soil, moving combustible materials, and using sprinklers designed for crop irrigation to keep the fields surrounding their barns wet and therefore safe from floating embers.    

The decision to wait out the fires was not made lightly, and it was based on the best care for the cows. Milking cows require a specially formulated diet, a comfortable place to rest, and consistency. Darleen Sichley, one of Oregon’s dairy farmers faced with evacuation orders shared her story online stating that care for their animals was, and always will be, their top priority:

“Long term, yes, these conditions are not good for us and them. But honestly the stress of trying to move them to another farm at this point would be worse… I know that seems like a crazy concept to not evacuate the cows and we pray we are making the right decision, but conditions in our whole area make us confident they are safer staying then maybe having to move them multiple times as these fires continue.” – Darleen Sichley, Farmer, Abiqua Acres

In Southern Oregon, thousands of families lost their homes to the Almeda fire. Among those thousands were several employees of Rogue Creamery.

“After a harrowing night of wildfire blazing through our community, we are heartbroken and devastated to learn this morning that several members of our team have lost their homes. Many others are waiting to return home to see what’s left … For now, Rogue Creamery has been fortunate as our cows are safe and our facilities have been spared. But our hearts ache for all those in our community that have lost everything.” – Rogue Creamery

And yet, through this tragedy, the farming community demonstrated their dedication to their families, farms, and communities through their bravery and resiliency. Some spent long nights sleeping in their barns or offices, others helped their neighbors evacuate animals, and many farmers donated hay and feed to local fairgrounds housing evacuated animals.   

As Mister Rogers is famously known to say, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

In Tillamook, one helper was dairy farmer Derrick Josi, who called on his 400,000 Facebook followers to support their local first responders. His call to action resulted in a Tillamook coffee shop receiving over $1,000 to cover breakfasts for firefighters working to save homes and dairy farms threatened by the Pike Fire.

Also in Tillamook, the helpers were at Tillamook Creamery, where they provided free boxed meals to families in their community who were required to evacuate.   

In Saint Paul, the helper was dairy farmer Brandon Hazenberg whose farm was safe from evacuation zones. He spent his days hauling feed and bedding to nearby shelters and offered his dairy to neighboring farms in need of a place to house their animals. 

In Rickreall, the helpers were from Darigold where single-serve milk was donated for food boxes provided to evacuees. In Central Point, the helpers were located at the Rogue Creamery, where, after several of their own teammates faced unprecedented tragedy, they offered fresh, hot food and women’s necessities to those displaced by the fires.

And in Scotts Mills, the helper was Darleen Sichley, whose farm was only miles away from the fire. She quickly shifted from saving her family’s farm to caring for her community as evacuation zones were downgraded and her neighbors returned to find unhealthy air conditions both inside and outside of their homes. Within a day, Sichley was able to secure 72 difficult-to-find air filters for her community to use to help purify the air inside their homes.    

Many farmers are volunteer fire fighters, which proved extremely valuable with preparing for the approaching wildfires. Sichley’s husband, Ben, has been a volunteer fire fighter for over 16 years, and her father, Alan, has been serving the department for 39 years. “I think volunteer firefighting and that farmer mentality just go hand-in-hand in serving our neighbors in their time of need. It’s that sense of community service that has us not only caring for our farms and cows, but the future generations of our community.” 

“Farmers just know about helping other people. You help your neighbor, it’s just what you do.” – Steve Aamodt, former dairy farmer and volunteer firefighter for over 28 years. 

As summer came to an end and rain provided a much-needed assist for fire fighters, the smoke has dissipated and flames and hot spots are being extinguished. This has been yet another surreal chapter in the book of 2020 that we hope is behind us. Once again, it showcased an enduring theme of the Oregon dairy story – the resiliency and generosity of our farmers and processors.

RELATED LINK

Oregon Wildfires Response and Resources

Dairy Community Responding, Adjusting to COVID-19 Impacts

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has presented significant challenges to individuals, families and businesses worldwide. Our thoughts are with you and yours to stay safe and healthy as you continue to adjust your lifestyle.

The dairy community is also adjusting. While demand for milk and dairy products at retail has increased, the shutdown of schools and sudden disruption of the foodservice supply chain have caused ripple effects.

In some instances, if there is nowhere for the raw, unpasteurized milk to go, it must be disposed. This is a last resort when all other options are exhausted. If a farmer does have to dispose of the milk, it is responsibly discarded to ensure it does not enter rivers, streams or waterways. The last thing a dairy farmer wants to do is dump milk, and it takes a serious financial and emotional toll. Dairy Carrie and TDF Honest Farming have provided helpful explanations.

Oregon dairy farmers and processors are working tirelessly to provide healthy and nutritious foods, and they have been delivering food for retail sales, youth feeding programs and community food banks.

Dairy farmers in Oregon and nationally are supporting youth meal programs. These programs are open to all children ages 1 to 18 to ensure they are getting the nutrition they need to stay healthy. Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon maintains a list of these programs and you can donate to the national campaign called “For Schools’ Sake – Help Us Feed Our Nation’s Kids!” Oregon dairy processors are also working with the Oregon Food Bank to deliver donations to the people and places where they are needed.

Oregon’s dairy farm families and dairy processors thank you for your support during these challenging times. Your purchase of milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream and other dairy products makes a difference, and it is greatly appreciated. We’ll get through this together.

Feeding the Need: How the Oregon Dairy Community Fights Hunger

September marks the end of summer, a transition to fall and the start of a new school year. One could say that this month represents a time for change. So, it is fitting that September is Hunger Action Month – a month where individuals and organizations across the country come together to make a positive change for hungry people and families in our communities.

According to the Oregon Hunger Task Force, one out of every eight Oregonians struggle with hunger, including 20 percent of all children. Oregon currently ranks as the 12th hungriest state in the nation. In 2004, Oregon was ranked as the hungriest state. While there is still a long way to go, Oregon is making significant progress thanks in part to the generous donations of dairy foods that have helped nourish hungry families. Here are just a few examples:

  • Just under 2 million pounds of dairy products were donated to the Oregon Food Bank last year.
  • In 2018, the Tillamook County Creamery Association earned a national Outstanding Community Impact Award. It’s donations to the Oregon Food Bank included funds, food, a delivery truck, and funding for research aimed to end hunger.
  • Also in 2018, an Oregon farm and a dairy plant donated 100,000 pounds of shelf-stable milk powder to Oregon Food Bank. This was equal to 1.1 million gallons of milk.
  • Between 2014 and 2016, Lochmead Farms donated 20,000 gallons of milk to their local pantry, Food for Lane County.
  • Beginning in 2008, Threemile Canyon Farms donates 8,000 pounds of beef every month to help hungry Oregonians through the Farmers Ending Hunger program. The donations have provided nearly 1 million pounds of much needed protein to the Oregon Food Bank network and organizations like Blanchet House.

There are more examples, but many go untold simply because helping others is “just the right thing to do.” Dairy farmers and processing companies in Oregon have a deep, often multi-generational commitment to the communities where they farm, work and live. During Hunger Action Month, we celebrate their year round work to fight hunger and thank the Oregon dairy community for their generosity.

On average, people served by food banks receive the equivalent of less than one gallon of milk per person per year. You can help address this unmet need by contributing to the Great American Milk Drive or join the 10-Gallon Challenge today.

by Tyler Chase, Oregon Health & Science University Dietetic Intern

Dairy Farm Celebrates 30 Year Anniversary by Giving Back to the Community

After stay-at-home orders cancelled Louie Kazemier’s plans to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his dairy farm with an open-house party, he decided to shift gears and help out the community instead.

“My family still wanted to do something to serve the community in a different way,” said Kazemier, owner of Rickreall Dairy in Rickreall, Oregon. “So, we gathered our resources and came up with an idea to ‘pay it forward’ to the community that has supported us for 30 years.”

The family decided to do a food giveaway. “With so many families out of work right now, we understood that food insecurity is also increasing,” said Kazemier’s daughter, Stacy Foster. “We weren’t sure if a few pounds of ground beef and milk would really make much of a difference, but we wanted to try just the same.”

They were shocked by the positive response from the community. “We posted information about the event on the dairy’s Facebook page, and within a few days the post had been shared over 700 times,” said Foster. “We had no idea it would get that kind of response.”

“People have been so supportive and encouraging,” said Kazemier. “It has been a great reminder that we are loved and supported in our little town.”

The day of the event brought people out in large numbers. “We started to panic when cars were lining up at 12:30,” said Foster. The event didn’t officially start until 2:00, and yet people chose to drive in and wait in their vehicles. At 1:45 there were approximately 80 vehicles lined up to receive food. “We started to question if we would have enough, and if we were going to be giving enough to each family,” she said.

Every car received four pounds of ground beef donated by Rickreall Dairy, two half-gallons of milk and four 14-ounce containers of chocolate milk donated by the dairy’s processor, Darigold, and a bag of potatoes donated by Farmers and FFA Fighting Hunger in Oregon.

In the end, giving back to the community felt much more meaningful than a party, said Kazemier as he watched his family and employees pull together to help the community. “My family has always been pretty close, but anytime we can all work together on a project like this it brings out the best in all of us, ” he said.  

“We served approximately 430 families in our community,” said Kazemier. The food was gone by 3:45. “It was tough to have to turn people away. We learned that the need in our community is immense,” he said.

The dairy community as a whole has understood that hunger in the U.S. is going to be a serious problem until people are able to go back to work. That’s why dairy farmers and processors across the nation are increasing their donations to food banks and school meal programs to help people in need of nourishment. Many, like Rickreall Dairy, are quietly making contributions without seeking recognition or accolades.“We just pray that this random act of kindness will give everyone the hope they need as we all struggle through these crazy times,” said Kazemier.

Stacy Foster, who is quoted in this story, serves as the Industry Relations and Communications Manager for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council.

RELATED LINKS:
Darigold Doubles Donations of Milk to Food Banks
Extraordinary Challenges Require Extraordinary Responses

Dairy Done Right: Tillamook Honored Nationally for Community Impact

Contributions include fighting hunger, advocating for housing and supporting youth

Guided by the “Dairy Done Right” philosophy, Tillamook County Creamery Association has earned top awards for its cheese, ice cream, yogurt, sour cream and butter. Now the dairy farmer-owned cooperative has earned a national award for its commitment to the communities where Tillamook employees live and work.

IMG_3589Tillamook County Creamery Association
Outstanding Community Impact Award

Among the many reasons why Tillamook rose to the top of their category:

  • Support for the Oregon Food Bank has included contributions of funds, food, a distribution truck, a food drive and research about food insecurity with the goal of eliminating hunger statewide.
  • Funded a study on the root causes of the local housing shortage, and its gift of $75,000 allowed CARE to continue its mission of providing emergency aid to the homeless and those in crisis.
  • Collaborated with the Girl Scouts of Oregon and SW Washington on a dairy patch to educate young girls about STEM concepts, farms and food production.
  • Committed $1.5 million to a new food innovation center to Oregon State University.
  • As part of an employee-led volunteer program, 118 members of the company volunteered 1,200 hours within the first year.

“Tillamook exemplifies devotion to their community,” said Barbara O’Brien, president of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. “From working to find the root cause of food insecurity to improving housing access, they are addressing large-scale issues that impact the people and the planet.”

IMG_4481

Sarah Beaubien, Senior Director of Stewardship for TCCA

The Outstanding Community Impact Award was the only one given in that category nationally. The announcement was made on May 16 at a special ceremony outside of Chicago, Illinois, where it was accepted by Sarah Beaubien, Tillamook’s senior director of stewardship, alongside staff and board members. True to the spirit of the award, CEO Patrick Criteser was unable to receive the award because he was in the middle of a 300-mile bike ride to raise funds and awareness to help end childhood hunger.

As James Dillard, corporate and community relations manager at the Oregon Food Bank, said, “They are not giving away money just to improve their brand rating. They really are passionate about making a difference in Oregon.”

With Tillamook’s award, Oregon went back-to-back with U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards following last year’s “Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability Award” for Rickreall Dairy. Also of note for 2018 was Kroger’s win for “Outstanding Dairy Processing and Manufacturing Sustainability,” which includes Oregon’s own Swan Island Dairy.

To hear Sarah Beaubien’s acceptance speech at the award ceremony, watch the video below:

 

 

Related Links:

Meet the winners of the 2018 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards | DairyGood

Tillamook County Creamery Association Wins National Community Impact Award | NEWS RELEASE

Outstanding Community Impact: Tillamook County Creamery Association | FACT SHEET

Dairy Plays an Essential Role in Sustainable Food Systems

From farm-to-table, in Oregon and across the U.S., the dairy community is committed to nourishing people while minimizing impacts to the environment and preserving natural resources.

Sustainable Wellness
Dairy is a nutritious and affordable choice that fuels overall wellness. 

  • Dairy foods are linked to health benefits like reduced inflammation, improved digestive health and healthy immune systems.  Read more about the Health Benefits of Dairy.
  • Milk is a nutrient powerhouse with 13 essential nutrients. Check out more Milk Facts.

Sustainable Planet
Dairy is committed to being an environmental solution – raising the bar on social and environmental responsibility. 

  • In 2020, U.S. dairy set aggressive new environmental sustainability goals to achieve carbon neutrality or better, optimize water usage and improve water quality by 2050.  
  • Everyday 306 million pounds of food by-products are kept out of landfills thanks to dairy cows’ unique ability to upcyle. Find out why we think cows are nutrition superheros
  • Two Oregon dairy farms and one dairy co-op have received national recognition for their sustainability. Learn about award winning dairy in Oregon.

Sustainable Communities
Dairy contributes to strong, thriving communities and is accessible to all.

  • Dairy farmers are proud members of America’s essential workforce.
  • The dairy community is working hard to ensure every child has access to nutrient-rich foods, including dairy foods, to help them grow, learn and thrive. Read about school breakfast and child nutrition programs in Oregon.
  • Each year, farmers and dairy companies work with local food banks to deliver nutritious dairy foods to those in need, providing 469 million pounds of dairy- including milk, cheese and yogurt –  to Feeding America in 2020 alone. Find out more about how farmers fight Hunger.

Looking for more information on how dairy nourishes people while responsibly caring for our planet and animals? Join the Dairy Nourishes Network.

Members of the network receive the latest dairy research, resources and recipes, as well as opportunities for free continuing education.

Food Hero’s Gardening Challenge helps kids grow with dairy and plants

Join ODNC and Food Hero with Food Hero’s Grow This! Oregon Garden Challenge this spring. 38,000 free seed packets, donated by Bi-Mart, will be distributed by Food Hero to Oregon state residents as part of the program which aims to inspire kids to grow their own gardens and eat a healthy diet.

You can register to pick up a seed kit with Food Hero while supplies last. The seed packets will be available in 4 different seed kits: cool-weather vegetables, warm-weather vegetables, herb or edible flowers and flowers that attract pollinators, like bees and birds. Or you can join in with your own seeds, says Halie Cousineau, OSU Extension Food Hero state garden education coordinator.

The Food Hero Facebook page will hold weekly office hours when gardeners can ask questions, post photos and share their accomplishments, Cousineau said. Once they harvest their produce, gardeners can find more than 300 recipes using vegetables and fruits on the Food Hero website.

Children are a big part of the program. Beginning April 1, digital lessons will be released every Thursday through June 10 when school ends. The lineup includes Growing Healthy Kids with OSU Master Gardeners and a four-week lesson plan in partnership with the Oregon Bee Project. Kids will learn about how bees help make healthy food and how to identify several of Oregon’s bees.

Kids can upcycle their yogurt or milk containers and use sleeves provided by ODNC to help track the care and progress of their plants. Download yours here!

Throughout summer and into fall, participants will receive a monthly Grow This! Oregon Garden Challenge email with gardening information, harvest recipes and storage tips. Challenge information will also be available in English and Spanish on the Food Hero gardening page. For more personalized interaction, participants can email challenge leaders or email or call the Master Gardeners in their area.

“We’re trying to make the program accessible to anyone, children, elders, people with special needs and the diversity of cultural populations in Oregon,” said Cousineau. “We’re encouraging people anywhere to join. We want to make a community.”

Get Connected with Dairy Educational Opportunities Online

In light of distance learning, spring field trips have been cancelled, and all education has moved online. But, you can still visit a farm—virtually of course. Check out these links to see Oregon dairy producers (and friends) doing what they do best- making delicious dairy products for your fridge. 


In this video, Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador Jaime connects us with Darleen from Abiqua Acres: Mann’s Guernsey Dairy in Marion County shows you their beautiful Guernsey dairy cows who are milked by robots! The camera even gets a kiss from the cow named Darleen. 

Also in Marion County is Oregon 1st Alternate Dairy Princess Ambassador, Taysha, who will give you a tour of her family’s dairy. Explore cattle feed, maternity pens and feeding calves with a special appearance from the cutest barn cat. 

Next, travel to Harrold’s Dairy in Lane County to visit with Bobbi, a fourth generation dairy farmer who is introducing her dairy to 8th grade students at Coburg Community Charter School through AgLink’s Adopt a Farmer Program

You can find more educational videos for your virtual classroom on the Oregon Dairy Women’s Facebook page, where Oregon’s Dairy Princess Ambassador, Jaime, and First Alternate Dairy Princess Ambassador, Taysha, will teach you about all dairy cow breeds and cow nutrition, milk from farm to table, MyPlate nutrition, and so much more in this four part series.

You can view virtual tours for all grade levels from Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom, including a look into Rickreall Dairy’s automated calf barn, and a lesson for Jr. High students on cow nutrition

And, for more educational resources highlighting dairies across the U.S., check out Discovery Education’s new STEM curriculum.

Related Links:

Stay Home, Stay Healthy

Stay Healthy with Anthony Newman

Oregon Dairy Women Classroom Resources

Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom

Discovery Education: Caring for Cows & Nourishing Communities

Shannon Guirl Represents New Approach to Telling Dairy’s Story

With more than a decade of experience in video production and social media management, Shannon Guirl has been selected as the new Sr. Manager of Integrated Communications for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council (ODNC). In this newly created role, she will be responsible for reaching multiple audiences with engaging visual storytelling and content about Oregon’s dairy community.

Amidst an ever-changing media landscape, the competition for attention is constant. Combine that with the fact that many consumers are increasingly disconnected from agriculture and where their food comes from, and it becomes immediately evident why ODNC prioritized this new position.

“We always say dairy needs to do a better job of telling its story, from sustainable farming practices, to exceptional nutrition, to the economic benefits and beyond,” said Josh Thomas, Sr. Director of Communications for ODNC. “But it isn’t just about telling more stories, it’s about telling the right kinds of stories and in the right ways – and increasingly, that translates to visual storytelling on digital platforms.”

As a freelance editor in New York, Guirl worked on broadcast, cable and documentary productions for NBC, A&E, Discovery, CNN and Reuters among others. She also worked in corporate communications for UNICEF, TED Talks and Etsy. Most recently, Guirl owned and operated a lighting design studio in Portland specializing in making handcrafted lamps. She holds a degree from the University of Southern California, where she graduated from the School of Cinematic Arts.

“In addition to Shannon’s strong technical expertise in visual and digital communications, she brings creative vision and a natural enthusiasm to our team,” said Pete Kent, Executive Director for ODNC. “We’re excited that her work with ODNC will help us build understanding, trust and sales for dairy in new and engaging ways.”

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