When she isn’t caring for her patients, she’s caring for her cows.
For Jennifer Evers, a critical care nurse at Tuality Community Hospital in Hillsboro, Oregon, spending her days off working on a dairy farm is the perfect antidote to a stressful work week. And it’s something she wouldn’t miss for the world.
“I really appreciate the farm as my outlet from nursing,” Evers said. “I really enjoy just going out there and relaxing, enjoying the environment, the peace, and just being with my family.”
These days, Evers works three 12-hour shifts at the hospital each week, 4 to 8 hours a month at a nearby cardiologist’s office, and splits her time “off” between the two farms, pitching in where she’s most needed.
“I’m just a set of helping hands,” she said. “They’ll call me when they need a driver, or a milker, or someone to feed calves, or to move cows around. I’m just an eager helper, because it is not my everyday routine. I am refreshed and recharged, and it is a way for me to de-stress from my full-time job.”
For many young adults who were raised on a farm, it was never a doubt as to whether they would stay and work the family farm. For others, staying on the family farm was not their calling. Evers is sort of a hybrid.
“When I was in high school, my dad used to ask me why I wanted to leave him and leave the farm,” Evers remembered. “I told him [it was] so I could make a career for myself and because I wanted to help people in their worst of times and their best of times. And I still can’t think of anything else that I would rather do than nursing.”
“I really started to value my lifestyle and what I grew up with,” she said. “I could see how lucky I was compared to my co-workers. None of them had this outlet that I had. It was a place to go to be with family.”
During an intensive regimen of college courses, Evers continued to work the farm on most weekends and during college vacations. Her senior year, she started a two-year stint as a Dairy Princess Ambassador, advocating for the industry at events around the state and in classroom settings.
To this day, in fact, her fellow nurses call her the Dairy Princess.
“They tell all my patients, ‘You have the Dairy Princess taking care of you today,’” she shared.
Evers doesn’t mind the teasing and, in fact, uses it to advocate for the industry.
“I get very passionate when I talk with my patients and their families and staff about dairying,” she said. “My co-workers know I’m a farmer, and when they have questions, they come talk to me. About once a week we’re in a discussion in the middle of the nursing station, talking about a particular farming practice, or about how a farmer takes care of their land, about how they treat their cows if they are sick, and just kind of correcting misunderstandings that they may have from misinformation.”
Her interest in representing the dairy industry led her to join the Oregon Dairy Products Commission as one of its newest board members. Looking ahead, Evers said she has no plans to choose between her full-time profession and her passion for dairy, preferring to leave things as they are for the foreseeable future.
“For me, it is the best of both worlds, to be able to work thirty-six hours a week as a nurse, and spend four days a week on the dairies,” she said.
It might not be your normal weekend activity, but it’s one that works just fine for Jennifer Evers.