College of Marin Celebrates 1st Graduates of Artisan Cheese Certificate Program

College of Marin

Students learn from industry leaders about the science and art of crafting unique cheeses

Novato, CA—May 17, 2011–An enthusiastic cadre of students graduating this next week from the new Artisan Cheese Certificate Program at the College of Marin have delved into the history and science of cheeses, tasted savory bacteria that riddles velvety blues, met the goats producing some of the best, locally made chevre and kefirs and tested their own cheese mongering skills at a local creamery.

“This is an exciting milestone for this very popular and innovative new College of Marin program,” said David Wain Coon, Ed.D., Superintendent/President. “We are very proud of all of the students who are the first to complete our Artisan Cheese Certificate Program.”

“People have thought that France is where you have to go to get cheese, but there’s a lot of good cheesemaking being developed here in California,” said graduating student Sharon Jones, a retired UC-Berkeley tech writing instructor who is fired up about cheese, goats and the growing movement to produce food locally. “I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Jones is among the first group of students to complete the artisan cheese program launched in the fall to meet a growing demand from cheese aficionados and industry professionals. They are part of Marin’s growing reputation for regional cheeses.

The artisan cheese industry is a natural extension of the region’s high quality pasture lands, says Janice Austin, interim director of the College of Marin Community Education, Lifelong Learning and International Education program. “This is really a special program. The program has been tremendously popular with waiting lists for almost every class we have offered. We have loved the collaborative relationship we have with the California Artisan Cheese Guild.”

There are only a handful of programs in the nation that teach artisan cheese making. College of Marin courses are taught by experts in the industry. The idea for the program grew out of early conversations about new vocational curriculum development at the Indian Valley Campus between Sue Conley, Cowgirl Creamery co-founder, and Frances White, former president/superintendent of the College of Marin. The Cheese Guild has helped create the program and will be signing completion certificates and offering graduates half off guild memberships.

Courses in the certificate program include:  A Full Introduction to Artisan Cheese and Its Traditions by Daphne Zepos of Cowgirl Creamery. Zepos co-founded the Cheese of Choice Coalition and served on the board of the American Cheese Society and as a chairperson of the American Cheese Society Annual Cheese Competition.

Other classes in the program include Basic Starter Cultures for Cheese and Fermented Milks, Cheese Chemistry, Principles and Practices of Cheesemaking, and Good Manufacturing Practices.

“Promoting a certificate program means the overall quality of California cheeses will increase,” says Lisbeth Goddik of the Oregon State University Department of Food Science & Technology. Goddick taught Milk Types and Quality. “A systematic approach to education is beneficial to everybody.”

Chris Clausen, an Internet banking engineer who completed the course series this week thought cheesemaking would be a natural pairing with his partner’s winemaking hobby but says now it has quickly grown into a passion he hopes to develop.

“I learned a ton about cheeses I’ve never heard of and I’m hoping to build on the knowledge I’ve gained and go forward,” Clausen said. “I’m really sorry to see the series ending.”

At the informal ceremony Thursday, May 19, 11 students will receive certificates signed by College of Marin officials as well by as Maureen Cunnie, president of the California Artisan Cheese Guild and a partner in Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station and Petaluma. Another dozen students are expected to graduate from the program in the fall. Other dairy students and several instructors will also be on hand to congratulate the students. Graduates will receive a cheese-related gift bag including a half price California Artisan Cheese Guild membership.

For more Information, contact Janice Austin, Interim Director, Community Education, Lifelong Learning and International Education at 415-485-9316 or, or visit:


This press release posted here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s