Dairy Council of California: Blitz reflects on retirement
By Peggy Biltz
This month marks the end of my 22 years as Dairy Council of California’s CEO. As I get set to retire, I can’t help but look back at how much our organization – and the dairy industry – has changed over time, and the many rewards we have reaped and challenges we have faced together.
I also feel a great sense of pride because through it all, Dairy Council of CA, serving as the dairy industry’s contribution to community health, has stayed true to its mission to provide balanced nutrition education programs and resources that instill a value for milk and milk products to schoolchildren, health professionals and consumers.
A Rewarding Journey
Our nutrition education programs, which are the foundation from which we deliver on our mission, have been a potent tool for the dairy industry over the years. It is so rewarding to me that in just a little over two decades, Dairy Council of CA reach has dramatically grown from just 780,000 children and adults in 1990 to reaching more than 9 million today.
Originally we had just two school programs—for second and fifth grades—and three health professional programs for adults. Today, we have five school programs reaching half of the available school population in our state, and five health professional programs and resources available online.
There are a number of reasons for our success, probably the most critical being our commitment to a strategic planning process that allows us to constantly observe what is happening around us, analyze every opportunity and threat, and formulate a path that keeps Dairy Council of CA a step ahead. Just one example: our early adoption of technology and leveraging the Internet to reach previously untapped audiences.
We’ve also been fortunate to have a strong, committed board of directors consisting of both producers and processors whose support, engagement and encouragement foster a truly mutually beneficial partnership. And I cannot forget my staff who not only step up to every challenge we give them – thanks to their talent, energy and commitment to excellence – but they also take Dairy Council of CA to levels we can hardly imagine.
Industry Collaboration,Win Win
Aside from role Dairy Council of CA plays in the nutrition education arena, I have been particularly proud of the collaborative relationship we have had with the dairy industry.
Our trends tracking process allows us to not only shape our consumer programs and resources with the latest developments in nutrition research, it also allows us to arm dairy professionals with the most accurate nutrition information available to help them with their business. Dairy Council of CA also has resources available for those producers conducting dairy tours or reaching out to the community at events and fairs. Our latest Nutrition Trends newsletters, distributed twice a year, and other resources are available to download on our website at www.dairycouncilofca.org.
Here’s to the Future
On many fronts, whether economic, environmental, social or scientific, the industry faces one of the most difficult periods in its history. That’s why Dairy Council will be even more critical in the future. While we maintain the same core nutrition education mission we’ve had for 90 years, we’ve expanded the scope and impact of the organization through our dairy advocacy efforts. We’re actively positioning dairy with health opinion leaders as an irreplaceable food group for maintaining health.
Fortunately, our greatest strength lies in our products and the huge range of benefits they provide. That’s why the industry’s continuing investment in Dairy Council of CA is so important to ensuring that millions of people each year continue to hear why milk should be one of their nutritional foundations.
I know I’m leaving Dairy Council in great hands, and I want to let the many friends I’ve made over the years know how much I’ve appreciate their support. Having spent half my working life with this great organization, I can’t think of a more rewarding or satisfying career than what I’ve enjoyed at Dairy Council of CA.
■ Peggy Biltz is chief executive officer of the Dairy Council of California.