Category Archives: on the farm

Throwing for Tokyo, Driven By Dairy

With the close of the Rio Olympics, the summer games will be out of sight and out of mind for most until the Olympic flame reignites in Japan in 2020. There are some though, whose competitive spirit still burns bright. Melissa Ausman, a national-caliber discus thrower and senior at Concordia University in Oregon, is one such athlete with her sights set on the Tokyo Olympics.melissa-ausman-headshot

It’s a long way to Tokyo from the dairy farm in Nyssa, Oregon, where Melissa grew up – 5,135 miles to be exact. And that dairy farm is where it all began, starting with her relentless work ethic and mental fortitude. Just ask her father, Frank.

“Melissa and all the kids basically started out just like I did as a kid out here; you start with taking care of the baby calves, haying and graining, and you work your way up the ladder,” he said. “Out here, you figure out real quick that it doesn’t matter what day it is or how cold or hot it is or whatever, the work has to be done.”dairy farm in nyssa oregon

Melissa agreed, “There are no days off when you’re on the dairy, or trying to reach your goals.”

Ausman began throwing for sport in seventh grade, when she discovered her drive to become an Olympic athlete. Her throwing career was instigated by her competitive side, urging her to throw better than her older brother. She continued to improve over the years that followed, winning state in high school, setting records at Oregon State University, and now training for that next big step at Concordia University.

Currently, she can throw a discus 53.91 meters (176.87 feet), which is beyond the width of an NFL football field. This distance has Ausman just 40 feet away from qualifying for the Olympics. Within two years, she will achieve this mark if she continues to add distance at her current pace.

Ausman has immersed herself completely into her training. Even on her weekly rest day where she stays home from the gym, she continually trains her mind by learning how to improve. That means keeping current on Olympic medalists and working aspects of their training into her routines. She has also learned the importance of balance. melissa-ausman-training

“I’m a sister, daughter, student, athlete — and each one represents a spoke on a wheel,” said Ausman. “If I spend too much on one spoke, then I have a lumpy, lopsided wheel.” After coming to this realization during her sophomore year, Ausman found her balance and beat her personal discus record by 19 feet.

Ausman also depends on the nutritional benefits of dairy in her training regimen. She shamelessly sports an overstuffed bag full of whey protein powder containers to ensure access to nutrition after workouts. Before bed, Melissa’s favorite snack is cottage cheese with pears and cinnamon. She also enjoys greek yogurt as a replacement for mayonnaise; one of many gems she has gleaned from her avid Pinterest searching. To Ausman, training in the kitchen and fueling her body properly is another vital spoke in her wheel of life.

What advice does Melissa offer to aspiring athletes? “Whatever effort you are willing to put into your sport, the results will come accordingly,” she said. “No one else is going to give you the drive to be the best.” She also warned against dwelling on setbacks, suggesting that you can’t get stuck in the past if you want to be focused on your future.
Speaking of the future, what do mom and dad think of Melissa’s Olympic aspirations?

“Oh, she’ll get there, I’m sure,” said Frank. “Anytime I have ever doubted her, she has proven me wrong.”

“She gets her mind set on what she wants to do, and that’s what she’s going to do,” said Lyndia. “I’m not going to put off getting a passport.”

Fifth Generation Dairy Farmers Representing Industry

oregon dairy princess

Since 1959, the Oregon Dairy Princess-Ambassador (DPA) Program has been raising awareness about the dairy industry through classroom presentations, county and state fairs, community events, summer camps, school assemblies and more. The DPAs develop valuable experience with presentations, networking and life skills during their tenure.oregon diary princess

Sara Pierson, daughter of Steve and Susan Pierson of Sar-Ben Farms in St. Paul was crowned the 2016 Oregon Dairy Princess-Ambassador in January. Sara is a fifth generation dairy producer and a sophomore at Oregon State University studying Agricultural Business Management.

Gina Atsma, daughter of Gerald and Nancy Atsma of Atsma Dairy in McMinnville was crowned the 2016 Dairy Princess-Ambassador First Alternate. Gina is also a fifth generation dairy producer and attends Chemeketa Community College with plans to transfer to Oregon State University’s veterinarian program.

Six other DPAs represent Oregon counties including Washington, Linn-Benton, Columbia, Tillamook, Marion and Yamhill. Together, they will provide 135 days of classroom presentations, public appearances, civic engagements, and more throughout the state of Oregon.

The Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council provides financial support, coordination, training and materials to the Dairy Princess-Ambassador program to help raise awareness about dairy nutrition.

RELATED ARTICLE: Dairy Farms Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Dairy Farms Come in All Shapes and Sizes

There are 228 family dairy farms in Oregon, and no two are exactly alike. Regardless of the farm size, location and history, there are certain values and standards that every Oregon dairy farmer has in common:

  • Dairy farmers’ commitment to providing high quality milk begins with taking good care of their cows. On farms of all sizes, farmers care for their cows by providing a nutritious diet, good medical care and healthy living conditions. Animal comfort is key to a farmer’s livelihood.
  • Environmental stewardship is important to all farmers, no matter how many cows they milk. Farmers care for their land and their natural resources. They usually live on the land where they farm.
  • It’s important to dairy farmers that they be good neighbors and members of the community.
  • Farmers and the industry are innovating and working toward a sustainable future. They are increasingly working smarter with automation, methane digesters, recycling, precision agriculture and solar panels to increase efficiency and reduce impacts.
  • Food safety starts at the farm. Milk is one of the most tested and regulated food products, and farmers employ rigorous standards, practices and procedures to ensure that it is kept pure, cold and safe.
  • Dairy farmers take great pride in their work, and they want the next generation to work on the same land so they can continue providing the nutritious food that we enjoy and depend on. It is their legacy.

There’s a common misperception that larger farms are somehow not as good for the animals or environment. However, the large scale farms allow optimal use of scarce resources such as water, energy and land. Large farms also face the same kinds of regulations and oversight as smaller farms. If you have questions about dairy farming, use our contact form and let us know.

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