At the core of the Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA) is a firmly-held belief in the importance of tradition. The tradition of dairy farming. Making the highest quality dairy products. Working hard, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And generously giving back to the community.
Since 2003, the TCCA has been running a college scholarship program. It awards funds to local students who’ve demonstrated excellence as leaders of their community and school. Each year, one of the recipients is the child of a Tillamook farmer-owner.
While many people from dairy farming families go on to pursue dairy farming, this isn’t always the case. Growing up on a farm teaches skills and values – of dedication, industriousness, passion – that often inspire careers outside of the business.
So although the continuation of the TCCA ultimately depends upon the continuation of dairying, Tillamook is steadfastly committed to empowering young people to follow their dreams, whatever they may be.
We caught up with four of our recent scholarship recipients – children of farmer-owners – to hear what they’ve been up to. The recipients are pursuing different career paths, but there’s one thing that connects them all: a mutual love of helping others.
Hayden Bush, an ambitious 26-year-old who received the TCCA scholarship in 2010, has a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Sciences, a master’s in Agricultural Education, and an extreme passion for dairy farming.
Today, he’s a multi-talented educator with a two-part job.
As Program Coordinator of the Tillamook Bay Community College’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Program, Hayden manages the program’s instructors, and teaches many of the ag classes himself.
He also runs Oregon State University’s (OSU) Open Campus Program in Tillamook County, and educates the community on numerous topics, ranging from agriculture to farming to diversity.
When a lesson needs to be taught in Tillamook, there’s no denying Hayden is everyone’s go-to guy. “There’s no limit [to what I’ll teach] which is what makes it interesting and different every day.”
During high school, Hayden considered colleges that would allow him to stay close to home. He chose OSU because, in spite of his heavy course load, he wanted to help his family with the farm. It was Hayden’s way of showing gratitude to his dad, for teaching him the ways of a dairy farming life.
This is the most generous community you could ever, ever, ever imagine. This community will help anybody in need.”
Even in the middle of a semester, there were weeks when Hayden made the 100 mile journey from OSU’s campus in Corvallis to Tillamook, every night. To avoid the traffic, sometimes he wouldn’t start driving until 2AM. “There were a lot of long days, long nights when I was in college and I don’t regret one moment of it,” Hayden said.
Hayden could see himself returning to dairy farming one day. When he does, it won’t just be for profit. “I’m going to be doing it for the way of life...which is what most of our dairies in Tillamook are doing anyway,” he said.
He’s looking forward to having kids, and teaching them the same morals and values that he learned while growing up on the farm. Hayden hopes his kids will follow in his footsteps, and eventually come back to contribute to Tillamook. His love for the community is overwhelmingly apparent.
“This is the most generous community you could ever, ever, ever imagine.” he said with conviction. “This community will help anybody in need.” Funnily enough, the young educator with a matchless passion for dairy farming was describing Tillamook in the same, special way a friend would probably describe him.
If Hayden is a seasoned veteran of the scholarship-recipient pack, on the other end of the spectrum there’s 18-year-old Katie Sherer, who graduated from Tillamook High School this June.
Throughout her high school years, Katie was an active leader, serving as junior chairman for the Junior Holstein Association and captain of her basketball team. She also played volleyball, rode equestrian, and was a member of numerous clubs including the science club, and Tillamook’s local chapters of 4-H and FFA (formerly known as Future Farmers of America).
A time management superhero, Katie somehow found the hours to lead local events like Youth Dairy Day. “I’ve kind of helped out in any way that comes up when people need things...It’s a small community and everybody knows everybody,” she said.
Katie is now attending OSU, where she’s majoring in Agricultural Engineering. Although she’s left the farm for college, she says she hasn’t left the dairy industry at all. Through her major, she’s studying ways of supporting and improving agriculture as it evolves over time. “I think that’s what really caught my eye...Helping out the agriculture industry that helped raise me.”
When asked how growing up in a dairy farming family affected the person she is today, Katie said, “I honestly think how it didn’t [affect me] is a shorter list. I wouldn’t be who I am today without it.” On the farm, she’s learned everything from the importance of hard work, to the value of family, to the inner workings of machinery and tractor engines. She reiterated how crucial it is to lend a hand to people, especially during hard times.
With encouragement from her mom to speak up and make her voice heard, Katie’s upbringing also trained her to become a great public speaker. It’s one of the skills she values most today. “I was always a pretty shy kid. I still kind of am,” she admitted, a hint of shyness visible in her expression.
I can very confidently say that I am who I am today because I was raised on a farm. It’s taught me the value of hard work and family as well as taking pride in what you stand for.”
As an incoming college freshman, Katie’s feeling a little nervous, but mostly excited – about the newness of it all, her classes, and the opportunities that lie ahead. Where will she end up after OSU? She’s not quite sure. But wherever it is, it sounds like it will involve an adventure. “I want to go out and see the world,” she said.
Lexi Lourenzo, a 21-year-old and 2014 TCCA scholarship recipient, grew up taking care of cows. Today, she takes care of people as an electrologist and aesthetician.
A multi-talented beauty expert, Lexi performs a variety of services for her clients, including hair removal, facials and waxings. In high school, she explored the idea of other professions, but was ultimately drawn to electrolysis for its ability to help people in an unexpected way.
“My job is rewarding because they [my clients] don’t have to feel self-conscious or different anymore.” Lexi said extra hair on the face, or other parts of the body, can cause people to feel self conscious. “Most people don’t really think that could put someone in a shell, but it does.”
Inspiring confidence is her favorite part of her career. As a former member of her high school dance team, she’s performed on stage countless times and understands just how powerful having confidence can be.
After high school, Lexi moved to Portland to study at the Aesthetics Institute. Remaining true to her upbringing in a hard-working, dairy-farming family, Lexi studied two programs at the same time, for electrolysis and aesthetics.
In total, she was required to take 50 electrolysis tests, 45 aesthetics tests, followed by finals, and rigorous State Board exams. The ambitious beauty pro passed all of them with flying colors.
In the next five years I’m excited to see where my business goes, and I hope to start my own family and teach them the same values I learned as a kid.”
Today, Lexi’s most excited about taking on, and getting to know, her new clients. She enjoys the process of helping them feel comfortable, performing the treatments and then later assessing the results. “I get to go on their journey with them, and see where it takes us,” she said.
She attributes her inclination for supporting others to her dairy-farming parents, who taught her the importance of making other people feel great.
Looking to the future, she’d like to continue making people feel great in her hometown of Tillamook. “To have my own little salon – I think that would be really cool,” she said with a grin.
We met with a fourth overachiever from a Tillamook farmer family: 25-year-old Katie Hurliman, who received the Tillamook Scholarship as a continuing college student in 2012.
While her younger brother plans to become a dairyman and carry on their family’s tradition of farming, Katie has other plans.
After completing her undergraduate degree, she went on to study optometry at the Pacific University College of Optometry. Currently in her seventh year of higher education, Katie has one more year to go. Nevertheless, she’s already taking the world of optometry by storm, and treating patients every week.
Katie said she’s always had an interest in the medical field, but it was a health occupations course in high school that first sparked her interest in eye care. After shadowing local optometrists in Tillamook, she officially set her sights on the profession. “I knew it would be a great career where I could help people and make a difference,” Katie said. “It’s been extremely rewarding so far.”
The medical field has always interested me and I know I wanted to pursue a career that would give me the opportunity to help others and make a difference.”
Katie’s passion for helping others was undoubtedly inspired by her dairy farming family, especially her dad. She remembers watching him drop everything at a moment’s notice to help someone in need. He taught her, when something goes wrong, everyone must come together.
One of Katie’s favorite parts of working in optometry is fitting a person with their first pair of contacts or glasses. When her patients are able to view their surroundings in 20 / 20, it’s a special moment.
Next year, Katie will begin a residency rotation that will bring her to Kentucky, Hawaii, Colorado and Arizona, each for three months. After hitting horse races, beaches, mountains and deserts, and gaining experience with patients from across the country, Katie plans to get back to her roots. Like many of her fellow scholarship recipients, she’d like to return to Tillamook. Running her own practice, and giving back to her community, would be a dream come true.