Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A closer look at a worthwhile cause: the Oregon Dairy Princess-Ambassador program

When Shannon Henderson placed the crown on Heidi Larson on Jan. 19, showing the transition of one Oregon Dairy Princess-Ambassador to another, music blared, streamers flew, and applause thundered from 300 people gathered at the event in Salem.

Larson was still shaking from nervously being on stage with six other women who had competed for the honor to represent their state. As the crown touched her head, she was shocked, but also proud she had competed and come so far and would be able to represent an industry she is passionate about.

Larson also felt she had gained some great friends through her experience. “Even if I didn’t get it, I am so proud of all the other girls, that we’re so close. It wasn’t like we were competing. We all did our best, and we know whoever got chosen would do a great job … Everybody was rooting for everybody, and that was a great feeling to have that kind of friendship that builds throughout the year.”

For Henderson, the coronation was emotional — it was a time to celebrate what she had accomplished in the last year, to watch a video of what she had done in her official role but also share images of her growing up with her family. It was also a time of relief. As she said later in interview, a year is about the right time for the position. It can be an exhausting agenda for the year, especially as she reached her goal of talking to more than 10,000 students.

Next week, Capital Press will have a multimedia package of stories, pictures and audio online, as well as a story and pictures in our Feb. 1 newspaper on the youth page, about the princess-ambassador program. The package will include interviews with the last three princess-ambassadors in Oregon, their families, as well as some of the people who ran but weren’t successful, and those who run the program.

For the past three years, I have followed some of these remarkable women and watched as Oregon Dairy Women has helped them to do more than just represent the dairy industry. They have grown more confident, better public speakers, more focused on career choices, and developed into leaders of tomorrow.

Hopefully, the stories and these women describing their feelings about the program, experiences being involved, and the lessons they have learned — and taught others — will encourage others to be involved in similar programs that are held by agricultural organizations in this and other states.

While the mission of the dairy princess-ambassador is a serious one to educate people about the dairy industry, there also can be a lot of lighter moments.

Henderson handed out at each table this year a sheet of paper that shared some of her favorite school presentation moments.

Here are some of the questions she received during the year.

1. How many babies can a cow have?
2. Can milk get stuck in the cow?
3. Do you work at the Dairy Queen?
4. Aren’t cows supposed to ROAM FREE?
5. Can different cows’ milk have different flavors?
6. Where did the first cow come from?
7. How does the “nutrition stuff” get into the milk?
8. Can you ride a cow?
9. How fast can a cow run?
10. How fat can a cow get?
11. Do you wear your crown to your farm? Do the cows like it?
12. Have you ever had a cow run into a wall when she was tired?
13. If a cow falls on her side, can she get up?
14. Do cows snore? My dad snores!
15. Do cows ever run away?
16. From a 1st grader: “Does chocolate milk have the same amount of calcium as white milk?”
17. Shannon: “Grass is another part of a cow’s healthy diet.” Student: “Cows don’t diet!”
18. When baby cows are born, can they be a different color than their mommy?
20. Shannon: “In review, can you name one food a cow likes to eat?” Student (thinks hard): “RATS!”
21. Why do you call them cows?

Stay tuned to Capital Press newspaper and next week for more coverage.

1 comment:

threecollie said...

Awwww....I loved those questions. Our three were all dairy ambassadors back in the day and it was a fine experience for all. Great program!

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