CEO Blog

Cynthia Haren’s blog discussing important issues and the essential contributions of dairy farms to communities and the important nutritional and economic value dairy foods provide to consumers daily.

How thankful am I? Very!

I continue to be grateful for the opportunity to represent so many genuine, hard-working families in the dairy farming businesses.

Flying over Colorado early this morning, I was looking over the fresh blanket of sparkling snow that covered our beautiful state, relaxing and listening to my favorite tunes by Sade. After a work week best described as “complicated,” I had a moment to pause and reflect on how thankful I am for my life, family and career.

As the leader of an organization that is a trusted partner of family dairy farms, I feel a special sense of gratitude that I’m allowed to do the work I do every day. I am honored to be a representative for so many genuine, hard-working family businesses. I’m supported in that work by a group of fine men and women on our board of directors and a talented, dedicated staff. I am beyond grateful for all they do to further our mission here at Western Dairy Association.

I’ve had much to be thankful for this year. I’ve held dialogues and town hall meetings with inspiring people, including Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, USDA official Audrey Rowe, former CNN news anchor and GENYOUth CEO Alexis Glick, Broncos safety and Fuel Up To Play 60 spokesperson David Bruton, and former U.S. Surgeon General and promoter of eliminating childhood obesity Dr. David Satcher.

I had a chance to befriend Florence Ozor, a founder of Nigeria’s Bring Back Our Girls campaign, and escorted her on a tour of a local dairy farm. With her, I experienced the palpable feeling of contentment of in a place where animals are so well cared for. And I met with Dr. Kenneth Cooper, called the Father of Fitness, who pioneered the aerobic exercise movement in the United States. I told him that, because of a University certification requirement, I hadn’t been allowed to graduate from college until I could run an 11-minute mile. I could have been on the “family” plan for college!  He “shared my pain” and we laughed together about how hard I had worked to reach that daunting goal!

As I gather with family and friends around the Thanksgiving table next week, I will know I have so much to give thanks for – my husband, wonderful kids and grandchildren, and work in agricultural food production that fulfills and sustains me. I can only look forward with great anticipation to the new challenges and opportunities that await me, and our association, in the year ahead.

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The Small Cup: Touring Prado Dairy with Florence Ozor

A family dairy farm can be a restorative place to visit, as I learned while walking through the barns with a brave and caring woman from Nigeria.

Florence Ozor had never seen such big cows. As we walked past the beautiful Holsteins in Prado dairy barn, she told me cows back home in Nigeria are much smaller, and different looking. But then, as I found out during the time I spent with this remarkable woman, many things in Nigeria are different than here in the United States. 2014-10-19 13.52.08

If you’ve been following the news, perhaps you’ll remember Florence’s name. A Government Relations officer, Rahamaniyya Oil and Gas Ltd, a subsidiary of Rahamaniyya Group of Nigeria, she has gained worldwide attention as one of the leaders of the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign, formed last spring in response to the kidnapping of a group of Nigerian schoolgirls by the terrorist organization Boko Haram. Florence is one of the campaign’s leaders, protesting and advocating for the girls’ safe return.

And now, on a beautiful autumn afternoon, she was happily touring Prado Dairy Farm, asking questions, observing how content the cows were, and remarking on what a blessing it was to spend some time in such a place. She clearly felt at home there, displaying curiosity about how we bed the cows, and expressing disappointment that the animals were between milkings (she really wanted to try her hand-milking skills).

Even as Florence shared more about the horrific situation back in her native land, it became clear that she was able to relax a little bit and enjoy her time around the animals. And no wonder, I reflected: Prado’s family farm is a truly calm and gentle place to be. Care and concern for the animals, along with loving dedication to a way of life, shine through in everything they do. I thought about what I had heard during Florence’s presentation at Life Bridge Church earlier that morning. “What we fail to realize as humans is that our world may be large, but we’re all just in a small cup,” Florence said. “What affects one person affects every single one of us – loving humanity.”

As we walked and talked, I thought of all we have to be grateful for in this country. Florence has witnessed attacks on education, rights for girls, and basic human freedom at a level that’s hard for many of us to comprehend. In speaking out for the missing girls, she knows her life and the lives of those she works with may be in danger, but she feels a “moral responsibility” to bring them home. She is working tirelessly on their behalf, so I was grateful – and, I’ll admit, more than just a little bit proud — that I could offer a place of rest and peace to this incredibly courageous woman.

If you’d like to know more about the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign, visit the group’s website or follow #bringbackourgirls on Twitter.

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A Great Day at the Dairy Farm

Collaborative conversations and a shared purpose were highlights of my visit 

For me, there is something truly wonderful about the opportunity to visit a working dairy farm. I am so grateful for a chance to experience the sense of common purpose, boundless energy and rugged perseverance that makes a dairy farm like no other place on earth.

I recently had the privilege to visit La Luna Dairy family farm, spending time with the owners who are thriving IMG_4472contributors to the local food scene. I shared the experience with several distinguished guests, including Audrey Rowe, U.S.D.A. Administrator for Food and Nutrition Services. Audrey is a passionate and well-informed individual, but she had never before had a chance to visit a dairy farm, so this was a very special day for her, too. In addition to a number of industry, government and school nutrition officials, we were especially pleased to welcome Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who has been a tireless advocate for agriculture and food production in our state.

We took a tour of the property, then gathered for an in-depth exploration about our common purpose — keeping kids healthy and well nourished. Audrey was especially positive and encouraging about the key role dairy plays in good school nutrition, and she clearly understands that dairy foods help kids do their best in the classroom and on the athletic field.

As we sat around the table and shared our thoughts, we discussed several important issues, including how to increase demand for fluid milk, from after school activities and summer nutrition programs, ways to maintain adequate supply, and pricing. Many of those who spoke expressed their gratitude just to be in the room and be part of a vital collective conversation about their passion for ensuring that dairy remains a mainstay on school menus.

Audrey told us, “I have a new appreciation when I look at a container of milk and how that milk got there, and what it takes to manage a dairy farm. We want to have dairy in our schools for our children.”

The Governor added, “Dairy is the ultimate nutritious quick and easy food. There’s a new emerging industry of higher quality, fast-casual chains, and two-thirds of those companies have corporate offices right in Denver. Colorado is uniquely positioned, with so many food and industry leaders, and they’re ready to step up to use and support dairy products.”

As often happens when I meet with these colleagues, I came away from the session with a renewed sense of optimism about the future of our industry and the important role it plays in the lives of so many people. And for those dairy farm families reading this blog in between chores at your own dairy farm, please accept my lasting thanks for all you do to keep us all going strong, physically and economically.

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Activists for Ag

What really matters about being a woman in agriculture? Here’s what I recently shared with a group of female FFA members.

I spent many years of my early life looking up to role models. I admired my father for his strong patriotic beliefs, which grew from serving his country in the Navy. I admired my mother for her courage and unwavering Christian beliefs. Later in my life, I met several dairy farmers who mentored me and showed me the way to a new and exciting career opportunity.

So it was especially thrilling to me to be asked to speak at the “Aspire to Grow” Agrium Women’s Leadership Conference, an event held for young women interested in agriculture. Sponsored by Agrium Women’s Leadership Group and Colorado FFA Foundation, the conference attracted more than 300 attendees, which meant that I had a chance to meet and talk with many of Colorado’s future agriculture leaders. They were an impressive group of young women, and I appreciated their interest, openness and curiosity.

Cultivating Balance and the “D” Word

After many years working in a business I love, it’s heartening to be in a position where I can now be a role model for young women who are seeking ways to make a difference in the world. I told the group that cultivating balance in your life really is about the “D” word, discipline! Living with passion and peak performance is exhausting, and it will require discipline in all aspects of your life. It all begins with the discipline to create personal health and wellness. As I shared with the group, junk food plus no physical exercise equals low motivation and low output.

Write it down, then live it

Writing your goals in specific detail and placing those goals where you see them daily is also an important part of the success equation. Having written goals means you have taken the time to really study “you” and have decided where you want to go with your personal and professional life. I have learned from experience that these simple steps can accelerate good things happening in your life.

While you might be thinking that this sounds like the standard talk the girls hear from parents and teachers every day, I backed up my advice with my own real-life example: I went back to school to earn my MBA when I was 42 years old and my two daughters were still teenagers. To achieve that goal, I needed to drive 100 miles – each way! – to attend classes three days a week, which I did for the three years it took me to earn my degree. I’d get up at 6 a.m., drive to school, and get back home in the late evening. I’d take a break with the family, study until 2 a.m., then get up the next day and start all over again.

“Thanks a lot, Mom!”

I got a laugh from the group when I told them that my youngest daughter was a freshman at Denver University when I was finishing up the last year of my graduate studies. She always knew she could find me studying at the Starbucks (a treat we didn’t have in our rural town), and would stop by sometimes, just to say “hi.” One day, she approached with a sarcastic, “Thanks a lot, Mom!” It turns out a couple professors in her undergraduate classes had recently been my teachers in graduate seminars, and they had told her, “Your mom set the bar very high, young lady!” It must have felt a little intimidating (or annoying!) for her, but I also know that she was very proud to have a mother who was working so hard, and was a role model for her in her own life (even if she didn’t tell me at the time!).

Ag activists first

Many of the questions that the audience posed were about the challenges of being a woman in a male-predominated field. The girls didn’t get much sympathy from me about that, I have to admit. My daily reality is that I’m often one of the few women leading board meetings, or other ag-related meetings. Often I arrive at meetings with a junior male colleague, the press inevitably starts talking with him, assuming he’s the CEO, not me. I told these young women they need to put the focus on their education and their communications skills, and not worry about being the only female in the room, the farm, or within five miles.

Just worry about becoming the smartest person in the room showing confidence and courage, I told them, and the one who is most passionate about the importance of our industry in feeding the world, today and tomorrow. If we can encourage our young people to be activists for Ag, no matter what their gender, we’ll be creating a new generation that can tackle the problem of food security for everyone on the planet, and that’s what really matters most for all of us.

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When the City Meets the Country

A governor, lieutenant governor, a farmer and the Western Dairy Association CEO walk into a party …cindy blog 5

Governor Hickenlooper was having a truly enjoyable evening, and he didn’t want to go home. Neither did his fellow singer Keith Bath, and he was home. Keith was hosting 300 city and agricultural friends at his beautiful Fort Morgan farm. Our festivities were kicking off the Pedal The Plains race, which would begin the next day. Sitting in the audience, watching the Governor and Keith sing back-up for “Woodie and the Snowy River Band,” I was ready to take stage and sing along. My hold back? I “lip sync” in church – not a great voice!

cindy blog 4It was a long and wonderful journey for Western Dairy Association to reach this proud and contented moment. Three years ago, the Governor and Dean Singleton, publisher of The Denver Post, approached me to ask for Western Dairy Association’s sponsorship of the first-ever Pedal the Plains event. Both men have a passion for promoting and showcasing the incredible agriculture of Colorado, and they had developed the idea for a three-day bike race to highlight our beautiful state and its food production bounty. They asked for dairy farm families help to support the event, gathering city and country in a new friendship, and honoring one of the best things our great state does – agriculture.

Sponsoring the event and emceeing the evening represented a chance to stand up for something I passionately believe in – honoring agricultural and rural folks.cindy blog 3

Why was I so committed to Pedal The Plains? Because this event is unlike any in which I’ve ever been involved. I’m energized by the way our governor and fellow citizens have championed local agriculture, and I want to make sure that Western Dairy Association is along for the ride (pun intended). This event is the perfect meeting of city and country, and a way for us to bring our hearts and stories together in celebration of agriculture.

Over the weekend, WDA staffers were at key points along the race route, cheering on our own WDA team (clad in Holstein-spotted jerseys), helping with dairy farm tours and distributing “Refuel with Milk” chocolate milk to participants. People cycled, cheered, saw new places, and had a chance to realize how much we country folk and city folk have to appreciate about one another.

During the kickoff dinner at Keith’s farm, the Governor presented me with an official letter of gratitude and a Colorado state flag.  I have to confess – it brought tears to my eyes.

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Later, as Keith, the Governor and I walked to our cars, we shared a hope that the weather for the first leg of the race would be sunny and clear – the perfect frame for the masterpiece of our agricultural bounty. As the men thanked me once again for dairy farm families’ sponsorship, I thanked them for being such important members of “Team Ag,” a team that all of us need to support and nurture in our everyday lives. And then, I have to admit, I drove straight home, glad I wasn’t going to be racing that first leg in the morning, but aspiring to a day when I will. Evenings like that one have a way of bringing out the optimist in me, I suppose.

Congratulations to all the racers, thanks to the sponsors and heartfelt thanks to the governor’s staff and the Western Dairy Association staff. A big Western Dairy Association hug to Governor Hickenlooper and Dean Singleton, who had the vision to get this whole thing started.

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Hunger in America – How We Are Helping

“My stomach hurts.”

That was how my student would greet me in class every morning. Back then, I was teaching and coaching at Akron K-12 School in Akron, Colorado. Our school had its fair share of students who were living in poverty, and this little girl, I knew, had a family going through some tough times. It didn’t take me long to realize that the “hurt” in her stomach came from emptiness. This little girl was hungry, and she started every school day with her fuel tank well below zero.

Taking breakfast into my own hands

I knew that no student could learn well without proper nutrition, so I worked with our school principal to initiate our school’s first-ever breakfast program. I could tell right away what a difference a good breakfast made in that little girl’s readiness to learn. And I began a lifelong connectedness with the basics of good, solid nutrition, a journey that has led me here, to my current position as President and CEO of the Western Dairy Association.

A big part of great American meals

We live in a country where 17 million kids go to bed hungry every night. Just as I knew as a classroom teacher, I still know that nourishing milk can be part of the answer to the nutrition gap in our country. With 8 grams of protein and nine essential nutrients in every 8-ounce glass, milk is a wholesome part of many great American meals. That’s why I’m so proud of the new program to provide more milk for food banks, called The Great American Milk Drive. It’s supported by Colorado dairy farm families, and it gives consumers a simple way to donate a gallon of milk when they buy a gallon at their local market.

Most requested, least donated – until now

While milk is the most requested food item by food banks, 95% of them report that they don’t receive enough milk to meet client demand. Now our dairy farm families are stepping up to help, and you can join them to help, too. Click here to donate a gallon of milk to your local food bank. Western Dairy Association will match donations made before September 30, up to $5,000. And, if more than 600 gallons of milk are donated this month, we’ll also donate a refrigerated cooler to the Colorado food bank with the most donated gallons.

Together, we can make a difference in the lives of families in need, and make sure that every child who enters a classroom this fall is well-nourished and ready to learn.

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Colorado Floods Bring Turmoil to State & Dairy Farm Families, WDA Crisis Team Responds

Below is the last in a 10-week thought leadership series by Western Dairy Association’s President and CEO Cindy Haren, discussing the challenges facing the dairy industry and how the dairy checkoff is working to remain a leader in developing solutions and creating innovation.

The dairy checkoff’s role is one of critical importance when a crisis strikes – this has been especially evident with the recent historical flooding in Colorado.

The devastation Colorado families are enduring is heartbreaking, and we continue to pray for our fellow Coloradoans who have been impacted, particularly for those families and loved ones of the precious individuals lost in the torrential waters. The financial losses – expected by CDOT to exceed $2 billion – encompasses infrastructure and personal losses – property and possessions. An estimated 18,000 buildings and homes destroyed, 17,800 families displaced, 1,000 people still unaccounted for, 8 deaths – all this across 17 Colorado counties encompassing 4,500 square miles, nearly equal to the size of Connecticut.  Thirty bridges have been destroyed and another 1,500 need safety inspections, not to mention the miles of roads that have been washed away or severely damaged.  Prime acres of agricultural lands and crops that followed the rivers are now underwater or are so saturated by the monumental rains that we are all very concerned about the near future access to, and cost of, livestock feed, vegetables, crops, forage and much more.

Flying over Colorado yesterday, I viewed the massive lakes of water, brown from the environment and contamination.  Numerous communities, restaurants and businesses are still under restrictions preventing them from drinking or serving their town’s water. Damage to an energy company’s electricity grid is expected to be in the tens of millions of dollars.  More than 20 miles of natural gas pipelines are damaged and an estimated 5,250 gallons of oil have spilled into the South Platte River.

Described by climatologists as being “biblical in nature,” the storm front produced 18 inches of rain within just a few days, and has been called by some a “1,000 year” flood, among the worst floods ever in the United States resulting in the largest number of airlift rescues since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  As communities thought they were out of the path of flooding, quickly realized they were in direct path of the flooding.  Some have described the flooding water as 1,000 times heavier than air, a force worse than a powerful tornado.

No doubt our state has been in a state of crisis since last week. And for several of our dairy farm families, that crisis has also been their reality.

In 2000, dairy farmers across the United States began funding for a checkoff-led state-of-the-art crisis preparedness program. The purpose of this nationwide collaboration is to help maintain public confidence in dairy products, dairy farmers and the dairy industry in the event of an industry-wide crisis.  The program engages partners in collaborative trainings about a variety of topics from animal disease to food safety, with partners like the Central Intelligence Bureau (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and major partner/companies as Leprino Foods, Starbucks and Wal-Mart.  When a true dairy crisis occurs, the public site exists to provide a place for consumers to go to for trusted information.

It is because of this crisis preparedness program that all of the 17 dairy state and regional associations are ready to lead when a dairy crisis occurs. For Western Dairy Association, our crisis preparedness collaboration includes working with the Governor’s office, Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado State Veterinarian, county and  city/town personnel, law enforcement, Colorado State University, local processors and food companies, grocery stores, agribusiness partners, and of course, our dairy farm families.

When news of local flooding began from Boulder to Fort Collins, our focus was on determining the safety of our dairy farm families and our communities.  Our crisis team began monitoring the news reports of flooding and the path of the waters round the clock.  We began communications with our dairy farm families and with personnel of Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), the milk marketing cooperative.

Staying up-to-date and aware of the minute-by-minute communications from government officials and law enforcement was critical. Roads were blocked, bridges were washed away and services were cutoff throughout the northern and eastern parts of our state. Even some of our own WDA staff were housebound due to road closures. Because the WDA team is equipped with laptops and company phones, communications with staff were never interrupted.

Thanks to my team’s regular communication with DFA, the state’s crisis center and all the technology we have available, we were able to track farms being flooded and in need of help.  Four of our farms experienced 4-5 feet of active flooding across their farmland and fields.  Large debris is prevalent, out structures ruined and tons of baled hay is saturated by the water.  On many of our farms employees had difficulty traveling the roads, getting to work and in some cases, even lost their own homes.

Fortunately for our dairy farm families, no lives were endangered and they were able to continuously provide high-quality care for their livestock. Tankers were still able to reach farms and pickup milk, ensuring a consistent supply in grocery stores.

The past week has been a whirlwind of emotions and uncertainty. Now that the rain has stopped, and the skies have cleared, the assessment of all that has been lost can begin. While it will be some time before we will truly have a grasp on the severity of the damage, what I can say for sure is that Coloradoans are very caring and giving people.

We are resilient, we are strong in character…and we will help each other rebuild.

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Dairy’s Role in the School Health and Wellness Battleground

Below is the 9th in a 10-week thought leadership series by Western Dairy Association’s President and CEO Cindy Haren, discussing the challenges facing the dairy industry and how the dairy checkoff is working to remain a leader in developing solutions and creating innovation. 

The school environment continues to be the battleground for defining childhood health and wellness. It is where nutrition policies are often fought for and frequently rewritten.
For example, new regulations set nutrition standards for “competitive foods” – those sold a la carte and through vending machines, competing with the school lunch and breakfast programs.  This is the first time the government has issued regulations governing competitive foods in schools.

However, after just one year of the “healthier” new federal lunch program that set new guidelines to limit calories and salt, phase in more whole grains and require that fruit and vegetable be served daily, schools around the country are leaving the program because kids are no longer buying the new school meals and cafeterias are losing money.

In fall 2012, about 31 million students participated in the federal guidelines – 2010 Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act. According to the School Nutrition Association, 1 percent of 521 district nutrition directors surveyed over the 2013 summer, planned to drop out of the program in the 2013-14 school year and 3 percent were considering dropping out.

These districts are rejecting the program because the federal reimbursement has not been enough to offset losses from students who are avoiding school meals in favor of bringing food from home or in some cases, going hungry instead.

Yet federal officials are reportedly saying they have seen only an isolated number of schools cutting ties with the $11 billion National School Lunch Program.

Regardless, all of us know that students who are undernourished and hungry throughout the day result in an increased risk of lack of attentiveness and behavior issues.

The federal guidelines are just one of many issues in childhood health and wellness that are being addressed through schools. Consider that during the 2013 legislative session, states across the country contended with a spectrum of childhood nutrition and wellness topics, from competitive foods, purchasing of locally grown foods to obesity bills. Some examples:

  •  In Virginia, the Education Department scheduled a public hearing for proposed rules that would update nutritional guidelines for competitive foods sold in schools.
  • Rhode Island enacted a bill promoting the purchase of locally grown fruits, vegetables and dairy products in schools.
  • In Missouri, a bill requiring the Department of Education to develop guidelines for training school employees in the care needed for certain students was signed by Governor Jay Nixon. The bill also requires a physical fitness challenge program to be developed for school students.
  • In Indiana, the board of Indianapolis Public Schools has approved a three-month pilot during which it will significantly reduce the flavored milk available in school meals.

Each new school year, diverse new programs and grants are competing for the school health and wellness space.

An estimated 50 million children attend 180 days of school in the United States.  At least half of those children participate in the school lunch program and 13 million participate in school breakfast.

For more than 100 years, through the dairy checkoff, dairy farmers have financially supported their heartfelt value of providing good nutrition to children in school. They firmly believe schools are the place where lifelong consumer behaviors are made, learning nutrition education and the wholesomeness milk, cheese and yogurt have every day in their diets.

We know success in schools is paramount. Schools are where school children receive easily usable nutrition information, where fun and nutritious dairy foods are easy to access and where school personnel rely on organizations like Western Dairy, which provides sound information and health and wellness programs to students.

At Western Dairy, we work to address the challenges schools face with nutrition and health and wellness in several ways while ultimately encouraging more children to participate in feeding programs. By doing so, we are helping to increase the Average Dairy Participation (ADP), which impacts meal reimbursements as well as provides opportunities to create exciting, new nutritious menu items and new packaging.  We also work with school nutrition personnel assisting in nutrition and physical fitness objectives in ways that are far reaching across 73,000 schools nationwide.

We continue to bring new community partners and their resources to these efforts. Some examples:

Fuel Up to Play 60 – In partnership with the National Football League (NFL), FUTP 60 has brought more than $3 million to advance the program through 60+ business models implemented locally.  The program aims to improve the school wellness environment related to food, nutrition and physical activity as well as place students at the forefront to enhance schools’ capacity for implementing wellness policies. The objectives of FUTP 60 include:

  • Increase access to healthful, kid-appealing options of fruits, vegetables, whole grain and nonfat, low fat dairy throughout the school day and campus-wide
  • Increase opportunities for students to be physically active before, during and after school
  • Increase student consumption of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ recommended number of servings for fruit, vegetable, whole grain and non-fat/low-fat dairy food groups
  • Increase student participation in physical activity each day

Promotion - United States Departments of Agriculture, Education, and Health and Human Services, promoting Fuel Up to Play 60 and GENYOUth. USDA directed its state nutrition agencies to work closely with FUTP60 locally, and the success we’ve had with USDA has opened opportunities with other government departments. HHS promotes FUTP60 as a key resource to help kids earn the President’s Active Living Award, and the Secretary of Education featured FUTP60 in his Back-to-School Tour and in a public service announcement on physical activity and healthy eating, including dairy nutrition.

Breakfast in the classroom grants – funds to help pay for equipment/programs to implement breakfast in the classroom

Dairy Farm to School Program – Brings a dairy farmer to the classroom to educate students on where their food comes from.

Future Farmers of America Dairy Curriculum – Teaching the “dairy value chain” to high school students, ending with an on farm experience.

Developing innovative foods like Domino’s Smart Slice Pizza, Grab-N-Go meals and dairy smoothie menus which help bring excitement to school foods.

BRAX – Through a partnership with BRAX fundraising, schools across the country are embracing the Fuel Up Cups program which provides a resource to fund and implement Fuel Up to Play 60 programs. Schools earn $7.25 plus $.50 in bonus dollars per set sold for the school. An additional $.50 per set sold goes back to the GenYOUth Foundation for grants in the WDA region. The cups feature NFL, MLB and college teams, as well as military and are a great way for schools to raise extra funds with a dynamic FUTP 60 partner. Just recently, it was announced that Colorado is the top fundraising state for the Fuel Up Cups program meaning our FUTP 60 schools are raising money to keep their programs strong!

Vitamix – A grant program with partner Vitamix has resulted in schools throughout the WDA region receiving the funds necessary to purchase blenders allowing them to offer dairy-based smoothies to students.

Colorado Chefs – Collaborating with the Colorado Chefs Association as well as school districts, WDA is continuously working with schools to create nutritious, fun meals that appeal to more students.

How are we optimizing dairy foods in schools?  Each of the above programs allows dairy to partner with organizations who share dairy farm families’ value of helping children reach better health and wellness

For example, in “Grab-N-Go” lunch and breakfast test effort in Colorado schools, funded by Western Dairy Association and Leprino Foods:
Dairy sales increased in milk, cheese and yogurt, with an average annual increase of 6,898 units of dairy products per school:

  • Cheese: realized a +3,698 incremental units per school/year – with an Annualized opportunity per 1,000 schools of 3.7 million units
  • Milk: realized +1,093 incremental units per school/per year – with an annualized opportunity per 1,000 schools of 1.1 million units
  • Yogurt: increased +177 percent, with an annualized opportunity per 1,000 schools – 2.1 million units

Another example is grants. Breakfast grants have been very successful in increasing dairy sales and ADP. Specifically, overall breakfast participation has increased over the past two years by 3 percent. According to the national checkoff, Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), “when schools get the Fuel Up to Play 60 grants, that increase triples, and schools receiving our dairy optimization grants increase the daily participation by 42 percent.”

Dairy partners such as the NFL, General Mills, Leprino Foods, Hewlett-Packard, Quaker Oats, H.J. Heniz Company Foundation, Kraft, President’s Council on Fitness and many others believe firmly in the importance of breakfast in schools that they are funding significant grants to increase breakfast in schools.

Schools and students have been a focus of dairy farmers with the start of the National Dairy Council established in 1915, locally in Colorado since 1936.  Today that focus is even more important to help the schools make “sense” of the battles, and today we are working with more partners to protect and promote dairy’s place in schools.

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In Remembrance: Colorado Dairyman Donald L. Chapin

On behalf of the Western Dairy Association Board of Directors, staff and the Colorado dairy community, we mourn the loss of longtime dairyman Donald L. Chapin. Don, 80, passed away peacefully on September 11, 2013.

He was the sixth child born to Myrtle Irene Snow and Foy Percy Chapin in Elba, CO on April 2, 1933. In 1938, the family moved to Weldona, CO, where Don attended school. In his teenage years, he saddle broke horses for neighbors. He trained and rode his own horse, “Smokey,” for 25 years.

In 1950, Don joined the National Guard, enlisting in the United States Marine Corps in 1951. He served in the Korean Conflict with the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific Equipment Operation, and First 155 mm Howitzer Battalion. During his service, he received the Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, National Defense Service Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal. He was honorably discharged in December 1954 with the rank of sergeant.

On June 10, 1956, Don married Gertie Morris and the couple began their family which includes two sons and two daughters.

Don’s parents began Chapin Dairy in 1938. In 1955, Don returned to the home farm where he continued to work alongside his family until his death.

During Don’s career, he served as a member of Denver Milk Producers, was a delegate to Mountain Empire Dairy Association (MEDA), now known as Mountain Area Council of Dairy Farmers of America, and on the Western Dairy Famers Cooperative Association.

Don was a member of the Colorado Holstein Association and, in 2013, was honored as a 40-year member of the Holstein Association, USA.

He was a member of the VFW Post 2551 in Fort Morgan and the Orchard I.O.O.F. Lodge. He was selected as an Honorary Farmer of the Weldon Valley Future Farmers of America (FFA). Don was also a 50-Plus member of the Morgan County and Colorado Farm Bureau, and served on the county Board of Directors for 20 years, including serving as county president. In 1984 he received the Morgan County Farm Bureau Service to Agriculture Award.

Don loved to spend time with his family and his cows. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

He is survived by his wife, Gertie; sons, A. Foy and Cindy Chapin of Weldona, and Craig Chapin of LaPorte; daughters, Leianne and Carter Stinton of Sherwood, OR, and Vivianne and Rick Lorenzini of Weldona. He also leaves behind his grandchildren, Joe Lorenzini of Denver; Missey and Nick Trim and Ryen of Severance, CO; Foy H. and Audra Chapin and Foy G., of Snyder, CO; Tiffany and Dick Thompson and Jasmyn and Jayden of Weldona; Cole and Meredith Chapin and Joel of Weldona; Cami and Zach Lozier and Evy of Weldona; and Captain Anthony and Katie Stinton and Julia of Colorado Springs; and Carlee and Dan Bolthouse and Kane of Beaverton, OR. Survivors also include sister Mary Jane Riffey of Diamond Springs, CA; and brother Jerry and Janie Chapin of Maysville, KY.

Don was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers, Gerald, Gene and Bobby; two sisters, Betty Hoosier Pendergraft and Joann LaDu; and one grandson, Zachery Roy Chapin.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Colorado Holstein Association Youth Scholarship Fund, 10868 Highway, Weldona, CO 80653.

Services will be held Monday, September 16, 2013 at 11 a.m. at Weldon Valley Presbyterian Church, 24159 1st Street, Goodrich, Colo.

Please join us in sending thoughts and prayers to the Chapin family.

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The Passing of Longtime Dairyman, Friend and Leader Mike Dickinson

Remembering Mike Dickinson: A Tribute to Our Friend, Fellow Dairyman and Details for the Celebration of Life

Mike Dickinson, 66, of Fort Collins, Colorado passed away September 7, 2013 at the McKee Hospital Pathways Hospice Center in Loveland, Colorado.

Mike was born February 23, 1947 to Aaron and Sylva Dickinson. Known as “Pabull” to his grandchildren, Mike was a third-generation dairy farmer and native Coloradoan.  Each morning he was up at 4:30 a.m. to read his Bible and say a prayer of thanksgiving for all the blessings in his life.  He truly loved going out every day with Sam, his Border Collie, to work with “his girls,” the dairy cows.  He bought his first few cows from his father to start Mountain View Dairy in Loveland.  Over the years, he continued to expand his herd and operations, where today, 2,700 cows are milked daily. Mike was proud that the next generation of his family is able to continue his legacy as a dairy farmer and will continue operations at Mountain View.

“The dairy community is mourning the loss of a great dairyman and leader,” said Cindy Haren, President and CEO of Western Dairy Association (WDA). “Mike’s legacy continues through the entire Dickinson family. We’re very appreciative of his friendship and dedication to all of us.”

Brad Pickert, WDA and Mountain Area Council of Dairy Farmers of America (MAC/DFA) Board member, remembers, “Mike was an early innovator. He loved the dairy business, his cows, his family and his fellow dairymen.”

Throughout his career, Mike was involved with numerous dairy organizations promoting the dairy industry.  He served on the Western Dairy Board of Directors from 1981 until 1999, serving as Chairman from 1986 until 1997. He also served on the Board of Directors for the Mountain Empire Dairymen’s Association (MEDA) from 1981-1992, which then became the Western Dairymen’s Cooperative Inc. (WDCI) in 1992. Mike’s leadership service for the co-op (now known as Mountain Area Council of Dairy Farmers of America or MAC/DFA) continued until 1997.

“I first met Mike when we both served as directors on the MEDA Board and continued our friendship later on when Mike was Chairman of Western Dairy and I was also serving on that Board,” recalls John Cleland, former WDA and MAC/DFA Board member. “Mike served with enthusiasm, and was very interested in promoting dairy. It was a pleasure to work with him. I will always remember his smile, his sense of humor and his ability to stay well informed. He will be missed.”

Andy Wick, WDA and MAC/DFA Board member, also has fond memories of Mike. “One of the privileges of being involved on the Western Dairy Board is the people you get to meet and the friendships you develop. Mike was one of those people I was grateful to meet,” Andy said. “He was a good friend to me and to the dairy industry. Our hearts were in his heart. I will miss him dearly.”

Former General Manager of WDA, Tom Jenkinson said, “Mike Dickinson was a great dairy leader. He helped lead us into a new era of change for promotion.  We became very good personal friends, and I always enjoyed his up-beat attitude. Mike will be missed by us all.”

Arley George, current WDA Board Chairman, noted Mike set the precedence for a family of dairy leaders. “We appreciate Mike’s dedication on our Board for more than 16 years. He gave of himself to better the dairy community. We are proud to have Mike’s daughter, Shelly, continue his legacy as she now serves on the Board of Directors for Western Dairy Association.”

Keith Maxey, Director/Livestock Agent for Colorado State University Extension, worked closely with Mike throughout the years. “I valued his leadership in the dairy industry and support of the youth involved in dairy project work. I will remember him for his easy smile, his kindness, and his friendship of many years.”

Mike enjoyed playing handball with his buddies at the Fort Collins Club.  He was an avid cyclist and reveled in challenging himself to long rides. He also had a love for travel, which took him on many trips around the world.

He was an active member of the First Baptist Church of Loveland, serving as the chairman for the church Property Committee.  He was also a member of the Ft. Collins Rotary & the T-Bone Club of Greeley.

Mike’s warm smile and his wonderful sense of humor will be missed by all his family and friends.

He was preceded in death by his father, Aaron, and mother, Sylva.  He is survived by his wife, Lorraine Roselle (Ros) Dickinson of Fort Collins, CO; his two brothers, Keith (Sue) Dickinson of Durango, CO, and Robert (Karen) Dickinson of Fort Collins, CO; his three daughters, Lisa (Brad Kerbs) and sons Colton and Brandon of Gill, CO; Michelle Dickinson (Martin Ontiveros) and children Tyler, Stella and Jolie of Loveland, CO; Kristin (Ed Moyer) and daughters Madison and Mackenzie of Hot Sulphur Springs, CO; and his wife’s son, Kurt Barbee and sons Adam and Gavin of Loveland, CO.

Mike was a loving son, brother, husband, father and grandfather. His wonderful sense of humor will be missed by all his family and friends.

A Celebration of Mike’s life will be held on Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Loveland, 1003 W. 6th Street, Loveland, CO  80537. From I-25 travel North to Highway 34 West; travel West on Hwy 34 to Colorado Avenue; turn Left onto Colorado Avenue; go to W. 8th St and turn Right; take the first Left onto N. Douglas Avenue; take the 2nd Right onto W. 6th St. Destination will be on the Right.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Pathways Hospice, 305 Carpenter Rd., Fort Collins, CO 80525; or to First Baptist Church of Loveland at the address above.


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