Livestock News

The love of dairy: Washington state’s young essay winners


Dairy Farmers of Washington has chosen Samuel Azevedo and Bailie Shultz as the recipients of Dairy Community Scholarships, showing their love of dairy and their experience in FFA and 4-H.

This scholarship program began in 2017 with a goal to recognize graduating seniors who exhibit excellence in academics, leadership, passion for the dairy community, and community service. To be awarded this scholarship applicants were asked to write a letter to someone instrumental in their dairy story. 

Meet the winners and read their essay letters below:

Image courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Washington

Samuel Azevedo, winner of a $1,000 scholarship.
He has been involved in 4-H and FFA for seven years, and will attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, majoring in BioResource and Agricultural Engineering.

Samuel’s essay:

Dear Dad,

I am lucky to be the son of an immigrant from the Azores Islands, Portugal and grateful to have been raised on a dairy farm, and involved in 4-H and FFA. I have always been inspired by your sad but incredible story of losing your mother at the age of three, living in poor conditions with your ten siblings, being moved temporarily to an orphanage, and living your mother’s dream of someday getting her kids to the United States to provide them with more opportunity. I admire that you held onto your dream of owning a small dairy and finally got a bank to lend you the money to start a dairy in 1996 in Washington state after being denied a loan multiple times.

Your upbringing and the lessons you passed onto me are the basis for the young man I have grown to be. Being raised on a dairy farm has given me a strong work ethic. I am grateful for the tasks you gave me to feed calves, drive a tractor to push in the feed, even though I could barely reach the gas pedal, help dehorn heifers and dig trenches. I had it good compared to you who did everything by hand. Even so, I know I sometimes spent more time arguing with my two brothers about who was going to feed the heifers water than it would have taken me to actually feed them myself. As I grew older and was given more responsibility, I remember assisting you with minor surgeries, plowing fields in the summer, driving semi-trucks during harvest, repairing broken farm equipment, hauling cows to the auction yard, and milking cows with my brothers. The respect I gained from you was tremendous and the language skills I learned from the Spanish-speaking men I worked with were invaluable. Looking back, the experiences on the farm have shaped me into the driven, creative, caring and patient, and loving young man I am today. Although I was expected to help on the dairy, you understood the importance of learning and strongly encouraged my academic pursuits above any others, and for that I am grateful.

4-H has been a big part of my life for the past 7 years and I have learned many invaluable lessons as a result of my involvement. One of the most important to me is service. I have become dedicated to serving my community and those in need. When I delivered over 850 pounds of food to the Othello Food Bank from the food drive that I organized this past fall, the satisfaction I felt was like no other feeling I have ever had. 4-H has taught me to always lend a helping hand and to always be kind in any situation. When I return to the area after earning my degree, I plan on giving back to the 4-H program by helping our youth get involved and by supporting local kids at the fair and other 4H activities. I have also learned the importance of being responsible because of the two dairy heifers you helped me select to raise and care for annually for my 4-H project. You taught me the importance of caring for and spending time with my animals. I also learned a certain kind of patience and kindness. The skills I learned in 4-H will serve me well this fall as I begin my undergraduate studies at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) to pursue a bachelor’s degree in BioResource and Agricultural Engineering. This area of study will be beneficial when I return to Washington State to help you operate our family dairy farm. I will bring with me a different perspective on various areas of our industry, specifically in systems management support to help maximize production and earnings while doing the thing I love most — farming. I love you dad. Thanks for showing me the ropes and for all the great learning opportunities you gave me and especially for following your dream of owning a dairy farm.


Image courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Washington

Bailie Shultz, winner of a $750 scholarship.
She has been involved in 4-H and FFA for six years, and will attend Oregon State University, majoring in Animal Science and Sustainability.

Bailie’s essay:

Dear Nelly Belly,

If it wasn’t for your sweet personality and rockin type, I don’t know if I would be involved in the dairy community. I am so thankful that I bought you. If it wasn’t for you; I probably wouldn’t have found my “home” farm with the Young family. After starting out showing a hormonal Holstein, you introduced me to the adorable Jersey trot and the not so cute Jersey flop. Even though when we first became a team you were at my waist, we still had a great time together. I had fun going to every show and fair with you, I knew you were never going to run me over or kick me. I was confident in you, and you trusted me. In a partnership like this, I couldn’t ask for much more. And you taught me to love dairy cows more than I could ever teach you to love humans.

My passion for dairy cows grew when you showed me what being dedicated can do. I learned that regular practice showing my animals is beginning to work with them months before they enter the show ring. I wanted you to know every signal that I gave you. For example, if I take one step forward, you always follow or just a slight press on your shoulder, you know to begin backing up. When we first entered the show ring together, and we looked a little awkward because your head was at my hip but, we still placed high in the class. You continued to grow, and we got better and better. We glided in the ring together and showed that a person who did not grow up around cows could still be a fierce competitor in the showing. But no matter how much we worked together Nelly, you always “dance” around the ring when there were flowers around, but that’s okay, flowers are very scary!

I loved spending time at the farm and at the fairs, but I never got to feed you every day. Since you live 90 miles from my doorstep, but when I did visit you always changed. You would not have looked as spectacular in the show ring if it wasn’t for your constant care from the Young family. I got to see you go from a bug-eyed calf of milk to a baby heifer that received different types of hay and grain to a healthy cow that eats TMR and bloomed into a beautiful deep bodied cow who is ready for the summer show season. You always grew taller and longer but was still the perfect amount of slimming down for show day. When I began asking questions about your diet, I learned how many sustainable practices dairy farmers use. I became very interested in how waste products such as wet brewers’ grain, cottonseed and human-food by-products are recycled into your diet. This became so important to me, it affected what I wanted to do with my life.

If it wasn’t for you Nelly, I don’t think my educational goals and career plans would be the same. As you know, I will not be too far away from you and the farm as I start classes this fall to earn a double-degree in animal science and sustainability. With your influence, I am bringing together my two worlds: agriculture and our environment. I want to help farmers like the Young’s to be more energy and water efficient. Of course, each time a consumer questioning the health or safety of dairy products, I will ALWAYS advocate for dairy farmers, and share my Nelly story on how you are raised and cared for every day.


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