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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

Crowdsourced Oregon Ice Cream Trail Showcases Top Shops

How do you create a new food trail that showcases the top ice cream shops across an entire state? Simple. Ask the experts! And that’s just what the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council did when they crowdsourced the new Oregon Ice Cream Trail.

Crowdsourcing is the process of enlisting the services of a large number of people, typically via the Internet. In this case, it was ice cream aficionados. Starting with an assortment of 10 landmark ice cream shops, people were encouraged to submit and vote for their favorite shops in Oregon. The result? You can now choose your own ice cream adventure to include more than 50 stops clustered within seven geographic regions.

“Building this trail reaffirmed something we already knew – people are passionate about their ice cream,” said Josh Thomas, Senior Director of Communications for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. “Thanks to the hundreds of votes we received, this trail showcases the top shops and some of the best ice cream you’ll find anywhere in the world.”

The Oregon Ice Cream Trail includes all varieties of scoop and soft serve ice cream, custard, gelato and even frozen yogurt – all made in Oregon. All stops are featured on a free, downloadable map at OregonIceCreamTrail.com.

So that’s the scoop on the Oregon Ice Cream Trail. If you’re still looking for a good excuse to hit the trail, National Ice Cream Cone Day is coming up on September 22.


RELATED:

You Can Help Build the New Oregon Ice Cream Trail

VOTING CLOSED. CLICK HERE FOR FINAL TRAIL MAP AND SHOP LIST

Here’s the scoop on 10 great ways to celebrate National Ice Cream Day and July Ice Cream Month! Today we’re unveiling the first stops on the new Oregon Ice Cream Trail.

These are 10 quintessential destinations for acquiring frozen happiness (aka ice cream) by the cone or cup. As it stands, the trail includes:

PORTLAND

Cloud City Ice Cream
4525 SE Woodstock Blvd, Portland     cloudcityicecream.com
Flavors based on family recipes, made on the premise that ice cream makes an ordinary day into something special.

Fifty Licks
2021 SE Clinton Street #101, Portland    fifty-licks.com
You may have seen the truck around town. The owner loves food science and making ice cream from scratch with local ingredients.

Ruby Jewel Mississippi Scoop Shop
3713 N Mississippi Ave, Portland     rubyjewel.com
Known for distinctly original, artisanal ice cream sandwiches, since 2004. This location was their first shop, which opened in 2010.

Salt & Straw
2035 NE Alberta St., Portland     saltandstraw.com
Characterized by inventive flavors, this small batch shop began in 2011 as a food cart not far from this first brick and mortar location.

WILLAMETTE VALLEY

K & R Drive Inn
201 John Long Rd, Oakland     krdriveinn.com
Located just off of I-5 at Rice Hill, and a favorite pit stop for Umpqua ice cream on road trips since 1970.

Prince Puckler’s Ice Cream     www.princepucklers.com
1605 E 19th Ave, Eugene
With more than 40 flavors, this gourmet ice cream has been made with quality local ingredients since 1975.

Serendipity
502 NE Third Street, McMinnville     serendipityicecream.com
This shop gives job experience and training for adults with developmental disabilities, in addition to great ice cream and a player piano.

CENTRAL OREGON

Goody’s
57100 Beaver Dr., Sunriver     goodyschocolates.com
The ice cream counter at this store continues to be a visitors’ favorite during busy vacation times and a locals tradition year round.

Sno Cap
1053 NW 6th St., Redmond
Originally Peden’s Ice Cream back in the 60s, Sno Cap is an institution and a locals favorite serving Eberhard’s Ice Cream.

OREGON COAST

Tillamook Creamery
4165 Highway 101 North, Tillamook     tillamook.com
With more than 1.3 million guests annually, this is consistently one of Oregon’s top tourist attractions, and many go straight for the ice cream.

And as a bonus seasonal favorite, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include the Oregon Dairy Women’s Red Barn at the Oregon State Fair in Salem (open August 23 to September 2).

VOTING CLOSED. CLICK HERE FOR FINAL TRAIL MAP AND SHOP LIST


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Advancing Health, Wellness and Education in Rogue Valley

Improving student performance and advancing a culture of health and wellness were the primary themes discussed at the Learning Connection Summit at Central Point Elementary School on October 26.

Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council staff took a lead role in bringing together a broad spectrum of community leaders from the private and public sectors to come together and strengthen local networks, stimulate action and support the link between health and education. Discussions included school and worksite wellness, community nutrition, physical activity and school nutrition innovations.

“Advancing a culture of wellness in the Rogue Valley will help improve student achievement and contribute to the vitality and health of our region,” said Cheryl Kirk, Nutrition Instructor for Family and Community Health/SNAP-Ed, Oregon State University Extension. “This will help get our community thinking about what we can all do as individuals and collectively to make a positive difference.”

Summit participants came from both Jackson and Josephine counties and included elected officials, superintendents, school nutrition directors, county staff, health system administrators, business leaders and local farmers. All committed to advance school and community wellness with time and resources over the next year and beyond.

This effort was originally prompted by registered dietitian nutritionists from the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. Two years ago, the Council organized a similar gathering in Tillamook. This led to the Tillamook County Commission declaring a “Year of Wellness,” yielding positive changes in individuals, businesses, schools and organizations. Following on that success, Umatilla followed suit with a summit of their own.

In addition to the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, the Rogue Valley Learning Connection Summit was supported by Central Point School District, Oregon State University Extension, AllCare Health, Rogue Creamery, and Oregon Department of Education, Child Nutrition Programs.

RELATED LINK

Cooking Up New and Nutritious Recipes for School Kids

“What’s for lunch?” It’s a common refrain in school cafeterias across the state, and some tasty plans are in the works to provide exciting new and nutritious menu items. Thanks to a special series of events called “Oregon Cooks for Kids,” school cooks are learning new recipes featuring dairy ingredients that they can take back to their schools.

Sponsored by the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council and the Oregon Department of Education, Child Nutrition Services, seven statewide culinary trainings are being offered for school nutrition directors and cooks in 2016. This year’s schedule includes trainings in Albany, Hermiston, McMinnville, Central Point, Salem, La Grande and Klamath Falls.

Chef Garrett Berdan, RDN, coaches participants on cooking-from-scratch culinary skills, while preparing and taste testing 15 actual recipes. The preparation of healthy meals for students emphasizes nutrient-rich foods, because studies show that well-nourished kids perform better at school. Participants practice menu planning, weights and measures, knife skills and other culinary techniques.

The Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council has supported culinary training events for seven years. Oregon’s 228 dairy farm families and 31 dairy processors are involved with schools across the state — providing nutritious foods to kitchens and cafeterias and leading health and wellness initiatives.

Cafeteria cooks have new tricks up their sleevesCafeteria cooks have new tricks up their sleeves

Statewide culinary trainings are improving the quality and variety of meals served in Oregon schools. Learn more about what happens at these special events with this fun story from KGW TV’s Portland Today.   VIDEO

Healthy Meals for Healthy StudentsHealthy Meals for Healthy Students Trainings

Trainings are presented in partnership with the Oregon Department of Education Child Nutrition Programs and the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. We train school nutrition and frontline staff, giving them ideas and skills to improve their school meal programs with nutrient-rich recipes, featuring ingredients like low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.   VIDEO