SUNNYSIDE — The love for cows began at a young age for Sunnyside resident Amanda Villarreal as she has been getting settled as the new Whey Supervisor at Darigold’s Alexander Road whey plant.
The Sunnyside resident remembers growing up at the now closed Dairy Fair at Darigold, where she ate ice cream and “marveled at the different machines when we took tours,” she reminisced.
Her father also worked as a foreman at Van de Graaf Ranches for 13 years and now works for Midvale Cattle Company, resulting in Villarreal’s major love for cows. “Cows have so much more to them than what meets the eye,” the young woman mentioned.
“I love how funny and smart they are. They get happy when they get let out into the pasture after a long winter, they mourn the loss of their calves when they are separated. They recognize and love the people that care for them,” she described and added cows often jump around and play when they’re let out into the pasture.
As an adult, Villarreal attended Washington State University where she fostered her love for cows into a potential career path. She chose to major in Animal Sciences with an emphasis on pre-veterinary practices, focusing on dairy management where she took numerous hands-on courses, spending hours at the WSU dairy.
After working as the shelter supervisor at the Benton Franklin Humane Society, the Animal Sciences major landed a job with Darigold. The 26-year-old stated working at the plant has been very different from anything she had done before.
“Everything from simple safety techniques to keep myself safe in a production environment to how the processes involved with creating a product touch the lives of millions of people,” she expanded.
Villarreal explained the different aspects of working at Sunnyside’s Darigold, the largest Darigold plant in the country, according to the young woman, with a cheese, milk powder, and whey plant all working together.
The whey plant first receives and pasteurizes the milk to send to the cheese and milk powder plant. Then after processing at the other two plants, milk by-products are sent back to the whey plant where protein is added, moisture is evaporated from it, and then dried out to create whey powder to be packaged and sent out all over the world.
“It’s quite an amazing process!” Villarreal commented.
“I’ve also had the opportunity to meet all the amazing people who work here. They’ve been super supportive and really want me to be successful. I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity,” the whey supervisor concluded.