Dairy Club takes entrepreneurial approach to funding

The Oregon State University Dairy Club stayed extremely busy the week before Valentine’s Day 2015. But they weren’t shopping for chocolate and flowers for their loved ones. Instead, all their care and energy was focused on 30 heifers that arrived early in the week for the club’s biennial auction, the OSU Dairy Club Beaver Classic Sale, on Saturday, Feb. 14.

Dairy Club

Leading up to the sale, club members and volunteers worked tirelessly to take care of the animals and get them ready for their big night. It was a big night for the club, too. Proceeds from the auction funds their activities for the next two years, including industry tours, Beaver Youth Day, Ag Day in the MU Quad and more.

The heifers sold were consigned by dairy farmers and cattle breeders from Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, and the Dairy Club retained 15 percent of the price of each sale. Two farms donated calves, and 100 percent of those sales went straight to the Dairy Club.

Preparation for the auction began last September, when Becky Thomas, Dairy Club member and chairwoman of the sale, formed committees to coordinate every aspect of the event, including cattle section, cattle care, advertising, decorations, dinner and a silent auction. Thomas says the club members worked hard to make the event a success.

Thomas studies agriculture business and hopes to work in the diary industry after graduation. However, several members of the Dairy Club have majors unrelated to agriculture such as engineering and photography. Some have grown up with animals or participated in 4-H, while others have no agricultural background at all.

“They just found us somehow,” Thomas says. “And now we all enjoy working with the heifers, so it’s pretty fun.”

Dairy Club president Andrea Smaciarz says the group offers a hands-on learning experience for students from all backgrounds, and the Beaver Classic Sale is a great time for club members to get their hands dirty — washing, clipping and caring for heifers.

“We have these girls for a week, and we have a lot of fun, but we keep in mind that we’re selling them,” Thomas said of the heifers before the sale.

About 200 dairy industry members attended the event on Feb. 14. The average price for heifers sold was $1,750, and the Dairy Club raised about $4,000.

“The sale was a great learning experience,” Smaciarz says. “It wouldn’t have been such a great success without the outstanding teamwork exhibited by the entire club.”

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