Ninety-five percent of dairy farms in the United States are owned by families, and Coronado Dairy in Wilcox, Arizona, fits into that statistic. But what makes Coronado different is that collective ownership is offered to the many families that work on the dairy farm. Coronado Dairy is a part of Riverview, LLP, a limited liability partnership, that allows its employees to buy into the dairy after two years of employment.
Ownership in the dairy isn’t just offered, it is encouraged. “Ownership changes your feelings toward work when it is your farm,” according to community relations and educational outreach Natasha Mortenson. “Our ownership structure allows passionate employees to work together efficiently to produce a nutritious product.”
Coronado Dairy searches for employees who are not only talented in their specific field but who live, on and off the dairy, by five core values: candor, integrity, keep it simple, spirit of humility and strong work ethic. Their goal when hiring new employees is to provide a culture of opportunity to passionate people. During the interview process, questions are structured around these values, and if a prospective employee doesn’t fit into their values, they aren’t hired on as part of the team.
According to Natasha, “there is no way employees don’t understand our expectations because they are simple, and we expect everyone to model the core values on and off the dairy.” The Coronado Dairy family believes in these values so strongly that they use them as their one-page employee handbook.
The employees also live by two simple sayings that ensure both the employees and the cows receive the highest level of care: “Be Safe and Be Kind.”
“Safety is one of our top concerns, we want to be sure everyone goes home the way they came to work,” said Natasha. “Kindness is also key. We are kind to everyone and every animal no matter what. There is zero tolerance for the mistreatment of any animal.”
That kindness towards their cows is reflected in their animal care practices. Coronado Dairy is certified through the FARM Program and Validus
At Coronado, Moiria White, another community relations team member, and her co-workers who own and work on the dairy are active members of their communities – hosting open houses and opening their doors to field trips for hundreds of kids a year, agriculture specific educational camps and learning sessions. Employees also provide milk, cheese and yogurt to community events, host elementary school field days, offer scholarships to local graduates and have even helped a local elementary school remodel their school grounds.
When talking to Natasha about Coronado Dairy you can hear passion and devotion in her voice. “We are a family of farmers committed to using efficiency to our advantage. I can’t believe this is my job, it feels like a dream.”
Coronado Dairy’s many employees who make up their farm family might not look like yours or mine, but through their hard work and undeniable devotion they are a family committed to each other, the animals they care for and the land they tend.
During June Dairy Month and beyond, we think it’s important to spotlight people like the farm families of Coronado Dairy who are Undeniably Devoted to all things dairy.