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Earning Top Honors: Dairy Awards in Oregon

Sustainability, quality, innovation … you could say the Oregon dairy community has a lot to celebrate. And you’d be right! Over the past couple of years, our producers, processors, and individuals within the community keep setting the bar higher, earning recognition regionally, nationally, and even internationally.

Oregon Dairy Farmers Association Awards

To acknowledge individuals for their lifelong contributions to Oregon’s Dairy Industry, the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association presents two annual awards at the state convention. Recent recipients have included:

  • Community Service Award – Roger and Jessie DeJager (2020)
  • Distinguished Service Award – Troy Downing (2020)  
  • Community Service Award – Tom Johnson (2019)
  • Distinguished Service Award – Will Wise and Julie Hoffman (2019)

Oregon Dairy Industries Awards

Oregon Dairy Industries, also known as ODI, was founded in 1910 to promote and elevate interest in dairy food products in the western United States. Each year, exceptional ODI members are recognized with the Oregon Dairy Industries Award. The 2020 Sweepstakes Award recipients included:

For more winners, visit

Oregon Ag Fest Education Awards

Oregon Ag Fest seeks to reward student organizations, nonprofit groups or classrooms that promote and educate Oregonians about agriculture. In 2020, Lost River FFA of Merrill, Oregon, won first place, and the Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador program won second place. The Oregon Dairy Women’s Dairy Princess Ambassador Program was created in 1959 to promote and provide outreach on behalf of the Oregon dairy industry. In 2019, they were able to reach more than 10,000 students statewide with in school presentations and county fairs. In 2020, they adjusted their programs to meet students virtually. 

Ida Ruby (lower left) and Jessie DeJager (lower right) of the Oregon Dairy Women receiving the 
2019 OSU Diamond Pioneer Agricultural Achievement Award.

College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University

In 2019, at two separate awards ceremonies for the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University, five individuals were recognized, including some familiar names. Ida Ruby and Jessie DeJager of the Oregon Dairy Women received the 2019 OSU Diamond Pioneer Agricultural Achievement Award. Phil Ward, now a board member for ODNC, received the Distinguished Legacy Award. Greg Harris, the director of farming and agronomy for Threemile Canyon Farms, received the Distinguished Alumni Luminary Award. And our very own Executive Director for ODNC, Pete Kent, took home a College of Agricultural Sciences Hall of Fame honor.

Here are some videos from past recipients:

Greg Harris / Threemile Canyon Farms / Alumni Luminary Award
Phil Ward, USDA Farm Service Agency, Alumni Legacy Award
Pete Kent, Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, CAS Hall of Fame

Oregon State University Extension Service

Threemile Canyon Farms (pictured above) was recognized in 2020 with the Cooperator of the Year Award from the Oregon State University Extension Service through it’s work with 4H programs in Morrow County. This award honors individuals and businesses who have made a significant contribution to OSU Extension in program involvement, support and community service.

Jeff Wendler, Director of Livestock at Threemile Canyon Farms, accepting the Cooperator of the Year Award.
Threemile Canyon Farms, winner of the 2020 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award.

U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards

The Oregon dairy community has proven they can walk the walk when talking about sustainability. As an annual award that recognizes dairy farms, businesses and collaborative partnerships that demonstrate outstanding economic, environmental and social benefits, Oregon provides powerful examples of dairy sustainability leadership.  

American Cheese Society

The American Cheese Society Judging and Competition is the largest competition of its kind for American cheese. The awards are designed to shine a spotlight on American cheesemakers by showcasing their talents and work as leaders within the industry. Unfortunately, this competition has been cancelled for 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many Oregon cheesemakers were celebrated in 2019.

World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest

This contest, sponsored by the Wisconsin Dairy Products Association, is unique because it includes all dairy products. This competition was also cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but it gives us an opportunity to continue celebrating Oregon’s winners in 2019:

National Milk Producers Federation

A celebration of American cheesemakers, NMPF’s yearly competition went virtual in 2020. In spite of the virtual contest, they still received nearly 190 entries of cheese and cottage cheese. Darigold claimed top honors for Best Cottage Cheese last year with their Pineapple Cottage Cheese.

Briar Rose Creamery’s Maia Cheese won the Good Food Awards Cheese category in 2019.

Good Food Awards

Presented by the Good Food Foundation, this award is not solely focused on dairy food products, and it is judged on quality, sustainability and socially responsible production. Amongst the nearly 2,000 entries in 16 different categories, Oregon creameries have been highlighted several years running. 

Quality Chek’d Production Excellence Awards

These awards recognize its member creameries that go above and beyond in a variety of categories, including: production, quality, marketing, and customer service, highlighting superior performance in finished product quality, plant appearance, cleanliness, efficiency, management leadership and process control. Criteria includes laboratory test scores and evaluation of a plant’s process systems. The 2020 award winners included:

Rogue Creamery’s Rogue River Blue cheese won Grand Champion at the World Cheese Awards, 2019.

World Cheese Awards (Bergamo, Italy) 

In the Olympics of all cheese competitions, cheeses are sent from around the world to be judged in a single day. Judges work in teams of three to identify cheeses worthy of a gold, silver, or bronze award based on the rind, color, texture, consistency and of course, taste. All teams also nominate a “Super Gold” from their table, and those top cheeses are judged a second time by a “Super Jury” of international judges. The final cheeses are debated in front of a live consumer and trade audience before choosing the Grand Champion Cheese on live television. In 2019, the first-ever American cheese was selected as the best in the world, and it was from Oregon. 

This string of impressive awards and accomplishments speaks volumes about the individuals and organizations integral to the Oregon dairy community. Oregon may be a smaller dairy state compared to others in the U.S., but our positive impacts, high standards and great accomplishments continue to put our state among the best in class – now and into the future.










Senior Director of Communications

The Oregon Dairy Products Commission (dba Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council) is seeking a dynamic, seasoned experienced professional to join our team to lead a comprehensive communications initiative on behalf of Oregon’s dairy farm families and dairy processing community. 

In this role, the selected individual will develop and implement the Commission’s overall strategic communications plan with oversight of five key areas: internal and external messaging, media relations, industry relations, issues and crisis management; and a Consumer Confidence initiative.

Working as part of a dynamic small office team, the successful candidate will have a minimum of seven to 10 years’ professional experience in a combination of communications roles that may include media relations, crisis and issues management, public relations, news reporting, investor relations, social media and internal communications. Food and beverage industry background is preferable, in addition to people management and budget administration. Important to the success of this work is a positive attitude and an appreciation for the growth and prosperity of Oregon’s dairy industry. 

This is a senior management position and reports to the Executive Director. 

The Senior Director of Communications supervises two staff including Senior Manager of Communications and Industry Relations, and Senior Manager of Integrated Communications.

Please read the Position Description thoroughly before applying. The position is typically based in Portland, Oregon. During the COVID‐19 pandemic, ODNC is currently in a work‐from‐home status.


Initial review of applications will begin the week of May 24, 2021. Applications will be accepted until position is filled.

To apply, please send cover letter and resume to In the subject line note: ODNC Senior Director of Communications.

No phone calls or faxes, please. The ODNC office is currently closed due to the COVID‐19 pandemic therefore we cannot accept in‐person applications at this time.

Qualified candidates selected for subsequent interviews will be required to provide at least three personal references.



Position Title: Senior Director of Communications

Position Category: Communications

Agency Number: 617000

Work Location: Portland, Oregon

Position: Full Time

Eligible for Overtime: FLSA/No


The Oregon Dairy Products Commission (ODPC) was created in 1943 by an act of the Oregon State Legislature and represented the first industry in the state to request the authority to tax itself for the purpose of its own betterment through marketing, promotion, education and research. ODPC is one of Oregon’s industry‐funded commodity commissions that operate with oversight by the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) Commodity Commission Program, and whose statutory authority is provided specifically in ORS 576. The Commission also operates under the USDA Agricultural Marketing Services, as outlined in the National Dairy Research and Promotion Act. The organization is funded and directed by Oregon dairy farmers and processors.

This program serves the Oregon dairy industry as a strategic resource to help the industry grow and ensure an ongoing market for milk. Our work is pre‐competitive and supports the entire dairy food system – small and large, new and established farms and businesses – and the full range of dairy products.

The Senior Director of Communications reports to the Executive Director. The scope of work includes leading a comprehensive communications initiative on behalf of Oregon’s dairy farm families and dairy processing community, and the development and implementation of the Commission’s overall strategic communications plan with oversight of five key areas: internal and external messaging, media relations, industry relations, issues and crisis management; and a Consumer Confidence initiative.


Key Responsibilities:

The Senior Director of Communications has full responsibility in developing and implementing all communications functions for the Commission, both internally and externally.

Internal/External Messaging

  • Incorporate a consistency of content development and messaging across the organization in multiple formats (social media, print, digital, web, mobile, speaking, in-person, video, and online).
  • Ensure the Commission is current in the use of media including print, digital, Web, and social media. Incorporate traditional outreach and new media to achieve organizational goals.
  • Ensure consistent brand coherence in positioning the organization within Oregon’s dairy industry and with its connection to multiple audiences and influencers.
  • Provide communications guidance to program areas, helping produce simple, clear, and consistent internal and external communications to various audiences.
  • Develop strategies and direct activities to garner visibility for program successes in child health and wellness, schools, hunger initiative, health professionals, business development, dairy industry, and consumer reach.
  • Administer in‐house program for creating internal story leads and providing talking points and testimonial guidelines.

Media Relations

  • Serve as the primary contact for the media, in both traditional and non‐traditional formats. Establish personal editorial contacts in consumer, business, and trade publications and digital venues.
  • Pursue feature and article placements in targeted media in support of the Commission’s objectives. Develop feature content based on success stories within Oregon’s dairy community and from content at the regional and national level.
  • Act as a resource for media request fulfillment. Deliver materials, interviews, features, case studies, fact sheets, backgrounders, and other items for unsolicited media requests.

Industry Relations

  • In working with the Senior Manager of Industry Relations and Communications, oversee dairy and allied industry relations, including strategy and program development.
  • Coordinate an industry‐wide coalition among dairy producers, processors, and allied industry to create dairy advocates. Identify subject matter experts who can speak to the issues.
  • Administer programs with dairy industry organizations to coordinate media trainings and seminars on connecting with communities.
  • Support ongoing operations for the Commission’s dairy farm tour program, support for dairy and allied industry farm tours, and other outreach activities.

Issues and Crisis Management

  • Lead efforts for crisis communications, including crisis planning, crisis preparedness, development of key relationships, and crisis network and ongoing issues management and response.
  • Develop and implement a set of crisis preparedness best practices and continuous improvement for internal staff guidance and for industry guidance and assistance including at the farm and processing level.
  • Serve as the primary liaison to national and regional crisis preparedness teams.

Consumer Confidence

  • Lead and coordinate a Consumer Confidence initiative with the goal of increasing consumer belief and trust of dairy farming practices and dairy foods, quality and safety.
  • Evaluate ongoing potential to create positive visibility for dairy foods and dairy farming, and sustainable practices both on the farm and in the dairy plant.
  • Identify speaking and presentation opportunities to the greater community, with fulfillment by a speaker’s network.
  • Perform additional communications‐related assignments as directed by the Executive Director.
  • Liaise with the national dairy organization, Dairy Management, Inc., to ensure use of current content and messaging, collaboration among member States and Regions, use of best practices, and application of ongoing consumer research.


  • Develop comprehensive communication plans, strategies and budgets to support the organization’s objectives, manage and mitigate issues, and advance the organization’s positive visibility for dairy.
  • Participate as part of a director‐level management team in defining organizational strategies and direction.
  • Determine best practices for reaching objectives and ensuring ongoing measurement and reporting of results.
  • Lead and supervise the communications team.
  • Ensure ongoing liaison with regional counterparts and national dairy organizations.


The Senior Director of Communications supervises two staff including Senior Manager of Communications and Industry Relations, and Senior Manager of Integrated Communications.


  • Understands implications of decisions within scope of responsibility.
  • Manages priorities to meet program and strategic objectives within established timelines.
  • Ability to meet established deadlines on a consistent basis.
  • Exercises good judgment and discretion in handling confidential matters and information in accordance with the Commission’s Employment Policies.


Performance is reviewed on an annual basis by the Executive Director.


Applicant must have, or be able to obtain, a valid driver’s license and have a good driving record or be able to provide an acceptable method of transportation and must carry full liability insurance coverage (personal injury and property damage) in at the least the minimum amounts required by state law.

The individual will be expected to work a full time schedule. Occasional overnight travel and work during weekend and evening hours may be required. The position is not eligible for overtime.


The Senior Director of Communications must become familiar with applicable statutes, rules, policies and procedures of the State of Oregon, and as they relate to a commodity commission marketing and promotions program. In addition, the individual will understand national policy as it relates to qualified dairy checkoff programs under USDA Agricultural Marketing Services.



  • Candidates selected for consideration will have seven to 10 years’ minimum professional experience in any combination of news reporting, journalism, investor relations, business communications, and/or public relations experience.
  • Degree in communications, journalism, or public relations is highly desirable. Master’s degree a plus.
  • Ability to accommodate overnight business travel, and work occasional evenings and weekends.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Proven strong experience in having a news sense, developing story content, making presentations, and crafting written materials in a meaningful format under deadline is a must. Newsroom or other reporting experience is a plus.
  • Proven experience and skills in working with members of the media in various format types including print, digital, and broadcast. High level of familiarity with news reporting, news cycles, information channels, content development, and editorial standards and practices.
  • Experience with all media formats including social, digital, print, verbal, and video.
  • Knowledge of, or exposure to, agriculture and food‐related industries is desirable is desirable, but not required.
  • Demonstrated success in creating working relationships and professional networks.
  • Strong leadership, supervisory management, budgetary experience and teamwork capabilities.
  • Ability to handle changing priorities, multiple projects, on multiple topics with varying timelines.
  • Proven skills in persuasion, influence, strategy, creativity, analytics, and organizational abilities are a must. A keen sense of curiosity is highly desired.
  • Ability to make difficult decisions as they pertain to budgeting, program, and employment matters.
  • Computer literacy in word processing, spreadsheet, presentation software applications (Microsoft Office preferred).
  • Proven ability to distill insights, quickly size up and address issues and develop strategic plans that drive new opportunities.
  • Demonstrated experience in program strategy, development and management. Proven ability to set goals, measure and deliver program results in a business setting.
  • Ability to work calmly under pressure, at times with limited information, and with multiple, immediate priorities.


As an agency of the State of Oregon, the Commission provides a benefit package including PEBB medical, vision and dental insurance; paid vacation, three paid personal days, sick leave and holidays; employee assistance program (EAP), and; contribution toward Oregon PERS state retirement plan. Options for life and disability insurance are available.

This is a full‐time, salaried position and is not eligible for overtime compensation.

Starting Salary Range: $ 90,000 to $97,000 depending on experience.

The Oregon Dairy Products Commission is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE). Qualified applicants are considered for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, disability, political affiliation, belief, or veteran status.


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