Tag Archives: chocolate milk

Back to School: Literacy Project Helps Bridge Gap

Mary Swearingen and class

by Mary Swearingen, dairy nutrition consultant and Oregon Dairy Women member

Twenty years ago, I was in the third grade when my cousin (a county dairy princess at the time) visited my class to give a presentation — it was the same year milk became the Official State Beverage of Oregon. Twenty years later, I returned to read to three first grade classes at Mary Eyre Elementary School in Salem on April 12.

Mary Swearingen AITC Lit Project

The opportunity was made possible by a literacy project organized by Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom. In all, 72 students listened attentively and discussed where our dairy products come from, how dairy is part of a well-balanced diet, and everything our farmers do to care for their cows.

I work as a nutrition consultant for a feed company in Harrisburg, and because the literacy project activity focused on nutrition, I brought feed samples with me and explained that I help farmers create balanced diets for their cows.  Students got to see and smell alfalfa hay, flaked corn and almond hulls.

We talked about how cows are amazing at recycling byproducts, or leftovers from food production. I feel that it was important to volunteer for this year’s literacy project because the book answered the ever so popular question: does chocolate milk come from brown cows? A common misnomer among consumers, the book illustrates that all breeds of dairy cows produce white milk.

Mary Swearingen and cowIt was a really great opportunity to help bridge the gap between the farm and the classroom. After all, our milk and dairy products don’t just come from the dairy case. As a treat for all the students (and teachers) I brought 75 pints of chocolate milk with me, and the students all loved it.

At the end of the presentation, I opened the floor to questions and by far my favorite was from a concerned student asking, “in the middle of the day when the farmer is trying to sleep, doesn’t he get tired of hearing those cows moo all the time?”

I grew up as a city kid, but spent most of my school breaks working on my aunt and uncle’s dairy in Stayton picking berries and feeding calves. It didn’t take long to develop a passion and love of the farm, to see the hard work and effort it takes to dairy was quite literally a life-changing experience.

I went from one extreme to the other, wanting to be a teacher to Veterinary Medicine, and ultimately to animal nutrition.  I got involved in 4-H Livestock my freshman year of high school and participated in the Oregon Dairy Women’s Dairy Princess Program. These experiences have led me to see the importance of educating our youth and advocating for our farmers and ranchers.


The Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council proudly sponsors Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom’s 2017 Literacy Project. More information is available at oregonaitc.org/programs/literacy-project.

Outstanding in His Field: Noah Miramontes on Dairy Farming and Soccer

Soccer Ball Miramontes Dairy

What’s black and white and can be found in a field? A Holstein cow or a soccer ball would both be correct answers – and ninth grader Noah Miramontes knows his way around either one.

As the son of first generation dairy farmers Jesús and Emma Miramontes, Noah has grown up on his family dairy near Grants Pass, Oregon. In addition to working hard alongside his parents on the farm, Noah Miramontes is now a freshman varsity soccer player for North Valley High School.

Making the varsity team wasn’t easy, especially as a freshman. He attributes his success to the lessons he’s learned on the farm and to eating healthy.

Noah Miramontes“The values I learned growing up and working with my family have helped me with success on the soccer team,” said Noah. “Values such as being a team player, keeping an open mind and not trying to control fellow teammates.”

There are so many tasks to complete in any given day on a dairy farm, Noah understands that routine is important as is every pair of hands and feet. Just like soccer. Farm work has also helped him prepare for any weather conditions as well as the hard work and physical demands that comes with playing competitive soccer.

When he’s not working, practicing or playing in a game, Noah enjoys snacking on fruit with peanut butter and washes it down with plenty of milk. In fact, Noah’s favorite dairy product is milk – especially chocolate milk. He recognizes the importance of nutrition to help make him strong so he can continue to improve.

While his big brother and sister have both left the farm to pursue their own passions, Noah knows he has at least a few more years of farm chores ahead of him. But he’s not complaining.

“If we didn’t have a farm, I don’t think I would get to hang out with my mom as often,” said Noah. “Growing up on a farm gives me some great moments with my mom.”

RELATED STORY
Meet the Miramontes Family: First Generation Oregon Dairy Farmers