Tag Archives: dairy farming

Dairy Farmer Stepping Up as Volunteer Firefighter

By trade, he’s a dairy farmer milking 100 cows on his organic farm in Hubbard, Oregon. But with 27 years volunteering as a firefighter, Steve Aamodt is also a humble hero.

“I started volunteering because it sounded like fun, and it became a way to give back to the community,” said Steve. He is currently serving as Assistant Chief in the Monitor Rural Fire Protection District.

Over almost three decades volunteering, Steve has put in close to 3,000 hours of training, not to mention his time responding to emergency calls. “People don’t call 9-1-1 on their best day. It’s nice to be able to help people.”

It seems that farming and firefighting go hand in hand, as six of the current thirteen Monitor volunteers are also farmers. But rural volunteer fire isn’t wasn’t it used to be. “When I joined, there were nearly thirty volunteers and most of them were farmers,” he said. “Now, there are fewer farmers in the community, and fewer firefighters. Farmers just know about helping other people, you help your neighbor, it’s just what you do,” said Aamodt.

Steve also attributes farmers’ inclinations to be firefighters to their ‘fix-it’ attitude.

“If something on the farm goes wrong, you can’t just run around screaming ‘oh no!’

You have to be of a mindset to fix a problem when you see a problem,” he said. “That helps, I think.”

STEPPING UP TO SUPPORT WORTHY CAUSES

This year, this volunteer firefighter ‘stepped up’ in a big way by participating in two firefighter stair climb fundraisers. These fundraisers, in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, are open solely to career or volunteer firefighters. The challenge is to climb the stairs of a building in full turnout gear, which weighs over 50 pounds, including their Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). The Portland stair climb is 41 floors, and the Seattle stair climb is a whopping 70 flights of stairs – the largest such stair climb competition in the nation.

Steve signed up for the Seattle event knowing it was going to be a challenge. “I didn’t realize just how hard it was going to be for me at 58 years old. All the years that I’ve been a farmer I’m sure helped me to do it, just because I have worked hard my whole life, but it really was the single hardest thing I have ever done,” said Aamodt.

And the fundraising was just as important to Steve. “The Seattle stair climb is a fundraiser for leukemia, so I started talking with the people I do business with, and started getting donations. That was fun, too, because it became another way to give back.” In all, the 2018 LLS Firefighter Stairclimb earned $2.61 million for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to support blood cancer research.

While smaller, the Portland Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge, a fundraiser for cystic fibrosis, was no less significant for Steve who climbed all forty floors with a photo of his friend’s daughter on his helmet. “It’s not as hard, because it’s less floors, but it has become really special to me because of raising money for cystic fibrosis. I have a friend whose daughter gave part of her lung to her cousin who had it, so I dedicate my climb to them. That’s become pretty special too.” Since 2009, this event has raised $1.2 million toward finding a cure for cystic fibrosis.

IT’S BECOMING A FAMILY TRADITION

Three of Aamodt’s children are first responders. His oldest son is a full-time firefighter in Canby, Oregon, and his youngest son is an EMT in Salem as well as a volunteer firefighter in Monitor and Canby. His daughter also recently joined the volunteer program in Aurora and is currently completing her 120 hours of training through a firefighting academy.

All three of his children participated in the Portland challenge this year, and the boys also participated in the Seattle climb. “My son did it first,” Aamodt said, and now they are all hooked. “Standing on the 70th floor with my son was just the biggest thrill,” he said.

Steve, along with his two sons, are already signed up to participate in the Seattle stair climb challenge on March 10, 2019. That event sold-out within 15 minutes of registration opening. If you would like to donate to Steve’s quest in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, you can visit his fundraising page.

Funny Questions, Serious Impacts on Dairy Tours

Fresh off of the school bus, wide-eyed youngsters set foot on a dairy farm for the very first time. They’re taking in all of the sights, and yes, the smells.

WATCH VIDEO

The farmer welcomes the students to her dairy and asks, “Do you know where milk comes from?

”Their most common answer? “The grocery store!”

This response shouldn’t come as a surprise when you consider that 98% of the U.S. population are generations removed from the farm. Tours are an excellent way to better inform and educate students about something that directly affects them and their families every day: where their food comes from.

“Most of the kids have never been on a farm. They have never seen farm animals in person,” said Melissa Collman, a dairy farmer in Boring, Oregon. “And even though our dairy isn’t very far away, we are miles apart as far as what they have experienced in life.”

As you might imagine, dairy farm tours can also be a source of humor, so we asked several Oregon dairy farmers and tour guides to tell us about some of the funny things they’ve heard or experienced while leading a tour.

JAMIE BANSEN, FOREST GLEN JERSEYS

Jamie and her dog, Olive, recently hosted a large group including students who had never set foot on a farm, let alone a dairy farm. Like a quick draw in the Old West, these middle schoolers quickly reached for their smartphones to snap photos and video along the way.

Students were amazed that manure is beneficial as a source of energy, bedding and fertilizer. “So wait, cow poop can make electricity and be sold for money?” a student asked. His serious question quickly devolved into laughter as a cow demonstrated the first step of that process.

After one of the girls expressed surprise about how quiet and happy the cows seemed, she decided, “I don’t want to go back to school. I want to pet cows all day.”

STACY FOSTER, RICKREALL DAIRY

“They love to tell me stories about their mom’s, cousin’s, friend’s cow that they saw once,” said Stacy.

Kids have told her they want to live at her dairy and become a farmer. They also want to bring calves home … until they’re reminded that they soon turn in to large cows.

“Some are amazed that we only have cows on our farm, since the only other farmer they know is Old McDonald,” she said. When the kids ask to see the other animals, like chickens, her answer makes the parent chaperones laugh. “Those animals don’t like to be milked, so they live on a different farm.”

CASEY SCHOCH, SCHOCH DAIRY AND CREAMERY

“On one of our tours, a little boy told me a cow joke,” said Casey. “What do you call a cow that has had her baby? De-calf-inated!

”Many of the kids ask to see the brown cows that make the chocolate milk, she said, but followed that it isn’t just the kids who ask funny questions.

“I actually had a mom ask me in all seriousness why we don’t milk the bulls,” said Casey, “I then tried to explain that similar to human females, only female cows have the correct parts for producing milk.”

MELISSA COLLMAN, CLOUD CAP DAIRY

Beyond the innocent and funny questions like whether boy cows make milk, Melissa expressed concern that students often echo some bizarre myths about dairy farming spread on social media and blog posts.

A student approached Melissa on a tour about rumors he heard about strange ingredients in milk. “So I milked a cow in front of this little boy, and he got to see for himself,” she said. “He was shocked.”

“It’s really important that we as farmers help educate consumers and future generations,” she said. “The funny questions and comments I hear on farm tours just reaffirm that any time we spend with the kids is time well spent.”

Catch a glimpse of some children discovering a dairy farm for the very first time in the video below.

 

Generations Deep: Oregon Supports Dairy Diversity

Dairy in Oregon began back in the 1800s, and there are more than 200 dairy farms of all different types and sizes in the state today. While many of the farms have changed and evolved over the years, most have been in the same families for several generations. These are some of their stories about where they came from and where they are today.

DRAWN TO DAIRY

Darleen Sichley of Abiqua Acres, a 100-cow dairy in Silverton, Oregon, wasn’t sure she wanted to return to the family farm after graduating from high school. Upon further review, however, the choice became obvious.

“I spent a year after high school working odd jobs in town,” she said. “Then I decided I wanted to come back here. The lifestyle – working for myself, and being able to work with my family and with animals that I enjoy – I decided you can’t beat that.”

A similar story played out at Hurliman Dairy, an 85-cow dairy in Cloverdale, Oregon, with Spencer Hurliman taking a year off after high school before deciding to return to the family farm.“I didn’t really know if I wanted to come back to the farm,” Hurliman, now in his mid-30s, said. “Then I spent a year traveling after high school, and when I came back here, it kind of made me realize that this is what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be.”

As a fifth generation dairy farmer, Bob Ross of Lee Valley Dairy, a 280-cow organic dairy on the Southern Oregon Coast, never doubted he was going to spend his life on a dairy farm. He admitted to being a little unnerved, however, after going into debt to purchase his dairy.

Louie Kazemier, who manages the 1,700-cow Rickreall Dairy in Rickreall, Oregon, grew up in San Diego, far from any dairies, but found his way into the industry through marriage.

“I met Lori (Wybenga) on my 18th birthday,” Kazemier said. “We met in August, and by April my father-in-law offered me a job. Before that, I had never touched a cow in my life.” Kazemier has been dairy farming ever since.

Notched into every Oregon dairy are backstories like these that help define an industry built on family values, work ethic and multi-generational sustainability. The stories resonate on small and large dairies, alike, and provide an authentic insight into an industry that is at once traditional and highly evolved.

EVOLVING TO THRIVE

The stories cut through decisions to install solar panels, methane digesters and low-energy lighting systems to generate power and cut energy costs.

“We have a lot of sun over here on the east side of the state,” said Warren Chamberlain of Dairylain Farms, a 500-cow dairy in Vale, Oregon, who has installed two 10-kilowatt solar panel systems. “Solar panels just seemed like a natural fit for us.”

The stories can be found resonating behind decisions to build sophisticated water conservation systems that capture and conserve water for multiple uses, such as a system Kazemier installed at Rickreall Dairy. And they are at the leading edge of decisions, like Ross’s to conserve wildlife habitat on his farm.

“We’ve got some ponds that we’ve developed, some bird boxes, and we just finished a job where we set the fence back 50-feet from the ditch and planted a lot of native bushes, along with some blooming and colorful plants,” Ross said. “The waterfowl love it.

At the 25,000-cow Threemile Canyon Farms dairy in Boardman, Oregon, a full 23,000 acres, or slightly more than one-fourth the total farm, is dedicated to habitat preservation for four threatened species. The preserve, which is managed by the Nature Conservancy, has been used as a model by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior and others for how private interests and public agencies can work together for effective environmental preservation.

ALL ABOUT COWS

The backstories can be found behind decisions to install cow comforts.

“Cow comfort is our number one responsibility, and our number one priority,” said Tami Kerr, director of the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, who also has a dairy farming background in the Tillamook area. “Healthy, happy cows produce a higher quality milk, and Oregon has consistently been in the top five states nationwide for milk quality, which shows we practice good animal husbandry.”

Oregon dairies work with veterinarians and nutritionists, Kerr added, who typically come out to farms twice a month, to ensure cows are healthy and well fed.

Threemile Canyon even hires an animal welfare advocate to stay on the farm for days at a time and issue quarterly reports to help the dairy see where it excels and where it can improve. And the farm hires an independent auditor to score the operation based on USDA animal-welfare standards. The farm, incidentally, consistently scores better than 95 percent, a mark rare in the industry, and recently notched one of the few 100 percent scores ever recorded.

GREAT DAIRIES NEED GREAT EMPLOYEES

The stories are behind decisions to treat employees with respect, provide them with good pay and good working conditions.

“Our producers are paying well above minimum wage, and treat their workers with respect,” Kerr said.

“Without good employees, we would not have made it to where we are today,” said Kazemier.

“I’ve got 300 families that are very dependent on what we do here,” said Marty Myers, general manager of Threemile Canyon Farms and fifth generation Oregonian. “They are paid well. They make a good living with living wage salaries. And they are obviously in a sustainable business, so don’t have a threat of losing their jobs because of mismanagement.”

A TRADITION OF HIGH STANDARDS

Oregon dairies are made up of thousands of backstories that help the industry embrace standards of waste management unheard of in other states.

“Oregon is the only state in the U.S. that requires both the CAFO, or Confined Animal Feed Operation permit, and the Animal Waste Management Plan,” Kerr said. “Some states require one or the other, but to my knowledge, Oregon is the only state that requires both.”

“We have very diverse family businesses across the state,” Kerr said. “Some are organic. Some are conventional. Some are small. Others are large. But all are family businesses.”

And all, she might have added, have backstories that resonate across generations.

Dairy Enlightening: Educational Leaders Tour Cloud Cap Farms

This summer, School nutrition directors, teachers, and administrators from Oregon and Idaho toured Cloud Cap Farms as a part of a special event called the “Fuel Up to Play 60 Pro Bowl.”

The Pro Bowl was a two-day event for school wellness champions to learn more about promoting healthy eating and physical activity through the Fuel Up to Play 60 program. The tour was organized by the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council and Dairy West.

“The primary purpose of these tours is to dispel myths. And there’s the opportunity to ask any of the questions that you might have,” said Jenifer Cruickshank from OSU’s Extension Service.

The farm tour was led by Melissa Collman, a fourth generation dairy farmer. Cloud Cap Farms is an organic dairy located outside of Portland in Boring, Oregon. They milk 200 cows twice a day, and the farm has been in operation for 94 years.

As one of the Oregon Dairy Farmer Association’s Young Dairy Leaders, Melissa is an active “agvocate.” She has participated in many events promoting youth health and wellness, advocating for agriculture, and boosting awareness and support for dairy. She also works for Organic Valley, helping innovate and educate in the organic food system.

With a goal to help Pro Bowl attendees learn firsthand about food systems, and the farms and farmers who provide nutritious food and ingredients to their schools, Melissa shared about the importance of cow care to provide quality milk. “The healthier [the cow] is, the healthier her milk is,” Melissa explained.

“It’s amazing to see the care that all these cows get to make sure that the milk we are getting is safe and healthy and good for us,” shared Anne Leavens, the Director of Food and Nutrition Services for Central Point School District. “Milk is a huge part of our meal program,” said Leavens. “You don’t think about how much work goes into the food that we are getting every day.”

The Pro Bowl participants all agreed they learned more about food systems, healthy eating and physical activity strategies to share with students and staff at their schools.

“Anytime questions about milk, or even dairy cattle, come up, they’ve got a nice firm basis now to answer questions for other people,” said Cruickshank. “Because they can say, ‘I’ve been on a dairy, and this is what I saw.’”

 

Nutrition Leader Honored as Health and wellness Champion

A red plate set at the supper table is a time honored tradition among American families to recognize someone who deserved special praise.

4 years ago, OSU’s Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventative Health amplified that tradition to start the Moore Family Center Founder’s Red Plate Award. An award designed to recognize professionals who work to help individuals and communities live healthier through good nutrition.

This year’s Red Plate Award was given to Anne Goetze RDN, LD, FAND, OSU alumni and Sr. Director of Nutrition Affairs for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council (ODNC). But she humbly deflects the praise. “I have worked for dairy farm families for many years and am grateful for their commitment to healthy communities. They tend their land, animals and natural resources just as they tend their families, with love and an eye for the future.”

Anne has been committed to Oregon dairy farmers through ODNC for 28 years, educating the public about nutrition and healthy lifestyles. “We absolutely believe dairy products are an irreplaceable part of a healthy diet,” Anne says, “and we’re working to educate Oregonians about how they’re part of a sustainable food system.”

Anne’s work through ODNC influences the nutrition field through farm to table messaging. “It’s the choices people make that impact whether or not we’re going to have farms [in the future].”

An article written by Hanna Knowles, OSU’s assistant Director of Marketing and Communications, says, “Anne’s influence within the nutrition field is wide-ranging. She strives to be a relevant and strategic resource for dairy processors by helping them interpret consumer research, apply new nutrition policies and develop product innovations. She provides current and future dietitians with continuing education and is a conduit for health and nutrition education in Oregon.”

“I learned from the very best, from birth to today,” says Anne, “and I am very grateful to work for Oregon’s dairy farmers.”

It was a unanimous decision to honor Anne with the Red Plate award. Endowed Director of the Moore Family Center, Emily Ho said, “Anne leads with heart, dedication and infectious enthusiasm, which has activated countless others to join the cause of improved health in Oregon.”

What is the Scoop?

July is National Ice Cream Month and dairy farmers, in partnership with the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council (ODNC), celebrated by delivering “random acts of ice cream” to deserving members of the community during the first-ever “Scoop it Forward Week” July 15-22.

“Ice cream is one of those things that just makes everything better, and we saw this as a simple way to bring positivity and joy to people’s lives in surprising and unexpected ways,” said Josh Thomas, Senior Director of Communications for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. “Random acts of kindness can be contagious, and our call to action is simply for people to spread the good and pay it forward.”

ODNC delivered locally processed ice cream treats to many places including, the Tigard Police Department, the Salem Fire Department, a playground and a skate park.

Cloud Cap Farms, a dairy in Clackamas County, also celebrated by treating the first 100 customers at Baskin-Robbins in Sandy Oregon, to a free cone. “When you buy dairy products, you are supporting my family and our business. Scoop it Forward is our way of saying thank you.”

Louie Kazemier, owner of Rickreall Dairy near Salem, also joined in the fun by delivering 250 ice cream sandwiches to Camp Attitude near Sweet Home, Oregon. Camp Attitude serves children who have special needs and their families. “It was a fun evening,” said Kazemier.

And Central Oregon’s Eberhard’s Dairy Products “scooped it forward” by handing out 36 gallons of free ice cream in Bend and Redmond. “We wanted to participate because we loved the message behind Scoop it Forward. We always say without our community we would not be where we are today so it felt good to give back to the community that has given us so much!” said Emily Eberhard.

ODNC hopes other people will continue to pass it on. “This is one small way that can make a really big difference,” said Thomas.

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Former NFL Player Tackles Dairy Farming For a Day

Over his 12-year career in the National Football League, Anthony Newman regularly faced finely-tuned athletes weighing more than 300 pounds. But it wasn’t until he visited a dairy farm that he came eye to eye with a finely-tuned 1,300 pounder – a Holstein cow at Rickreall Dairy.

As a supporter of one of the nation’s largest in-school nutrition and physical activity programs, Fuel Up to Play 60, Newman regularly encourages kids to eat healthy, be active and make positive changes in their schools and communities. He’s a big fan of including milk and dairy products in a healthy diet, but he had never had the opportunity to visit a dairy farm.

Located outside of Oregon’s state capital of Salem, Rickreall Dairy was a 2017 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award winner. Newman took an all-access tour of the farm, and he was impressed. After seeing how well the cows are treated, what they eat, how natural resources are protected and meeting the employees, he said he gained new appreciation for how much hard work and dedication it takes to keep a dairy farm running.

Since retiring from football, Newman has been a successful sports broadcaster and devotes his time to support youth through sports camps, coaching and speaking about the importance of health and wellness for the Fuel Up to Play 60 program. Inspired and led by youth, Fuel Up to Play 60 was created by the National Dairy Council and the NFL, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program is administered in Oregon by the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council.

View the embedded video to hear Anthony Newman’s thoughts and observations after experiencing dairy farming for a day at Rickreall Dairy.

Oregon Dairy Farmers Step Up for #dairydanceoff

Dairy farming can be tough. It’s a 24 hour, 7 days a week responsibility, and fluctuating prices don’t always compensate for the hard work. But dairy farmers are also resilient – and creative.

What started as a fun idea from dairy farmers Jessica Peters from Pennsylvania and Katie Pyle from Maryland became a nationwide trend on social media. Using the #dairydanceoff hashtag, they decided to dance the blues away and challenge others to do the same.

In her post, Peters says, “Let’s show the world that even though dairy farming is tough right now, you can’t keep a good famer down” Their challenge: stay positive and keep on dancing. And many dairy farmers responded with #dairydanceoff videos of their own.

Oregon dairies were no exception. Rickreall Dairy and the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council asked the Oregon Dairy Princess-Ambassadors to get the party started. And they sent a challenge out to other Oregon dairies who have followed suit:


Rickreall Dairy got the party started.


Eberhard’s MooMoo Belle milked it for all it was worth.


Cloud Cap Farm’s dancers deserve a round of applause.


Tillamook Dairy Farmer refused to participate … or did he?


For more #dairydanceoff fun, be sure to follow the hashtag! And be sure to show Oregon Dairy Farmers your support by following them, liking their posts and sharing them with your friends.

RELATED LINK:

Ten Oregon Dairy Farms to Follow on Facebook

New School Meals on the Menu for Oregon Students

The words “school cafeteria food” are taking on new meaning as Chef Garrett Berdan is training a growing number of child nutrition program professionals to prepare delicious and nutritious food for Oregon students.

A series of six culinary training events are underway to help improve school cafeteria menus statewide. With support from the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council and the Oregon Department of Education, Child Nutrition Programs, this popular program is now in its eighth year.

The 2018 series includes Central Point, Nyssa, Bend, Salem, Umatilla and Hood River.

Chef Garrett Berdan, RDN, coaches child nutrition program professionals on cooking-from-scratch culinary skills, while preparing 15 different recipes. It is offered at no cost to school nutrition professionals, who are able to practice menu planning, weights and measures, knife skills and other culinary techniques.

The preparation of healthy meals for students emphasizes nutrient-rich foods, because studies show that well-nourished kids perform better in school.

“These trainings use Oregon State University Extension Food Hero recipes that meet USDA school nutrition requirements and emphasize using locally produced foods and ingredients,” said Erin Hirte, Manager of Youth Wellness for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. “Oregon farmers are helping provide creative solutions to old challenges that will benefit students now and into the future.”

Oregon’s dairy farm families and processors invest in youth wellness and education. They are involved with schools across the state, supporting programs such as this training.

 

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Four Seasons of Oregon Dairy Stories

Looking back over the past year, there were a lot of great stories about Oregon dairy farmers, processors and the positive work they support with schools, health professionals and communities across the state.

In case you missed them, here are links to some notable posts we shared in 2017:

Umatilla Learning Connection Town Hall Reaps Positive Results

What I Learned on My First Visit to a Dairy Farm

21st Century Dairy Farm, 21st Century Dairy Farmer

Grants Support Strengthening Oregon Schools and Students

New Elk Meadow Students’ Video Highlights Healthy Habits

Community Inspired to Live Stronger, Healthier and Happier

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

Meet the Miramontes Family: First Generation Oregon Dairy Farmers

Seven Things You Should Know About Large Dairies

Every Day is Earth Day for Dairy Farmers

Exploring New Markets for Dairy Exports

Southeast Asia Dairy Trade Mission Updates

School Culinary Trainings Spice Up the Menu

Back to School: Literacy Project Helps Bridge Gap

Eight Questions for an Oregon Dairy Mom

Oregon Celebrates School Wellness Awards

Adopt a Farmer Program Includes Oregon Dairies

Milk Builds Strong Schools in Oregon

Is DASH the Best Diet … Ever?

Improving School Meals for Oregon Students

Two Great Ways You Can Enjoy the Milk Carton Boat Race

Starting the Day out Right with School Breakfast

Farming with Innovation and Heart Earns National Award for Rickreall Dairy

Brews to Moos: Cows Savor Brewery Byproduct

For This Nurse, Dairy Farming Provides the Perfect Antidote

Grant Helps Hermiston School Connect Technology, Nutrition

Dairy Princess Ambassador Goes International

Milk Celebrated as Official Beverage of Oregon, OSAA

Oregon Schools Invited to Apply for School Wellness Awards

Stacy Foster Selected to Manage Oregon Dairy Industry Relations

Oregon’s Newest Creamery Invites You to the Farm

Advancing Health, Wellness and Education in Rogue Valley

New Adopt a Farmer Video Features Oregon Dairy

Ten Oregon Dairy Farms to Follow on Facebook

Recent articles have also covered the DASH Diet, solar panels and milk as Oregon’s official state beverage. Stay tuned, because we have more interesting and exciting stories coming your way in 2018. If you have a burning question or a topic you’d like to see us cover, just let us know.

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