This past week, I had a bit of nostalgia. I realized it was 20 years since I served as a county dairy princess. First, I felt really old, wondering where the time had gone. It seemed like yesterday when I earned my crown and the chance to represent the dairy farmers in my home county.
For one year, a select group of girls get the chance to be a “princess.” However, unlike the Disney princesses, it’s more than just a crown and a sash. They have to organize dairy promotions at stores, schools and malls; try to craft news releases and radio spots; plus take to social media to spread their message.
The dairy princess program is a great program because it’s a way for teenagers to learn about the dairy industry and how to speak about something they believe in. My crown has long since lost its sparkle, and my sash is a little worse for wear. But, I remember how special I felt when I donned that crown as a teen and how I believed I had an important job to do.
It’s a big reason I have ended up with a career in agricultural journalism. I love sharing stories of farmers with others, stories about farming’s challenges and its innovations. I write about the questions the public has regarding what they believe farmers should do, balanced against the industry standards many farmers follow.
It’s been fun to watch the new county promotion teams earn their crowns, many of them feeling nervous about what is ahead. I like watching the members of the outgoing court and their evolution, turning from shy, quiet girls, to confident, well-spoken ladies. Like myself, it’s nice to see many of my past royalty counterparts helping or leading county dairy princess programs. Others, although their lives have long since left the farm behind, continue to be the staunchest advocates for dairy farmers.
So, while I feel a bit older today, I have to admit it's great to see a new class of dairy princesses and their courts gearing up for a year of fun and dairy promotion.
Editor’s note: Check out the dairy princess section of Eastern Dairy Reporter for the latest news on county pageants across our readership area.
--- Charlene Shupp Espenshade, special sections editor
Pictured at right is Charlene Shupp Espenshade when she was the Wyoming-Lackawanna Counties Dairy Princess.