Jon Van Nieuwenhuyzen, Werkhoven Dairy/Qualco Energy

When milk prices plunged in 2008, our family had been running a dairy successfully for 50 years, but we knew we had to come up with other ways to keep running for another 50. About the same time, one of the local tribal members suggested we partner with other local dairies to build the first digester in the county. We were a little worried at first about the investment because money was tight, but because it was a unique project we were awarded funding from both the Department of Energy and Department of Agriculture to help construct it. Since we turned on the switch, it’s been operating every day and generates $25,000 per month just from the clean electricity we sell back to our local utility. Important as that is, though, we’re helping to maintain the water quality of the two rivers nearby, which are historic salmon fishing areas-an important part of the heritage of our region.