6/9/2012 7:00 AM
By Marjorie Struckle N.Y. Correspondent
CEDARVILLE, N.Y. — Sixteen-year-old Hannah Douglas understands the dairy industry at the farm level. With the encouragement and involvement of Hannah and her brothers, Bob, 17, and Josh, 12, their parents, Jack and Tina Douglas, purchased milk cows to go along with heifers they continued to raise after their milking cow dispersal on their Cedarville, N.Y., farm. Now, when she is available during the evenings after school, Hannah can be found in the barn milking the cows and performing other chores.
At the end of April, Hannah was also crowned the 2012 Herkimer County dairy princess and is excited to take on those duties during her reign this year promoting the dairy industry. She previously served three years as a Herkimer County dairy ambassador, and was the 2011 first alternate dairy princess for the county.
“I have a strong concern for how the consumer views the dairy industry,” she said.
She wants to educate consumers about how milk gets from the farm into their dairy products. She can relate to the production of milk and dairy products very well. Hannah enjoys life at her family farm, and as she works to promote the industry, she continues to learn more from the ground up. She mixes and feeds their 45-cow herd a total mixed ration of corn, haylage, grain and water. She is looking forward to learning to spread manure once the muddy fields have dried up. This summer she expects to be more active in field work too. She said that when her brother, Bob, a freshman in diesel mechanics at SUNY Cobleskill is home, she remains with the animals because he doesn’t like to milk and would rather do tractor work or work on equipment with their father.
“I would rather drive tractor; (and) do it as much as I can,” Hannah said. “Milking is okay, but the worse job is cleaning the goat pens.” (Josh has dairy and meat goats for his 4-H project.)
Hannah is also busy with other activities, participating during her junior year of school with field hockey and basketball, 4-H, New York Junior Holstein Association and OHM (Otsego, Herkimer and Montgomery counties) Junior Holstein Club.
She, her brothers and parents assist each other on the farm whenever necessary. Her mother, Tina, milks in the mornings, but she said Josh is a good back-up for evening or weekend milkings. They are also all involved with Hannah’s reign as dairy princess, whether covering chores or chaperoning her events.
The Douglas Farm milk is shipped to AgriMark to be made into Cabot cheese.
“The milk company is as excited to have a producer as a dairy princess, as I am to be one. And (it) has offered to assist in sponsoring many of the dairy princess events,” Hannah said.
As part of the dairy princess court, Hannah said she has increased confidence with public speaking and expects to become more comfortable working with the public. Using her school, Mount Markham Central School, as a test for the presentations, Hannah has been spreading the message to consumers about why it’s important to get three servings of dairy per day. She is aiming to include all the classes from kindergarten to 12th grade. Hannah said each age group gets something different, from the dairy program, depending upon their age.
“The older kids like the speech and to get involved; the younger kids like the full ballgown of a princess and to play the little games,” she said.
She has met the New York State dairy princess court but is looking forward to meeting princesses from other counties at the state seminar in June.
“My goal right now is to complete as many school programs as possible because that is where I see the most impact,” Hannah said.
Through her school’s BOCES (Boards of Cooperative Educational Services) program, Hannah is also accepted into the Regional Program for Excellence, which will have her placed in a vet clinic one or two times a week for three hours for observation of that field.
Hannah is most active in the management and health care of their farm’s animals; she follows the hoof trimmer and questions the veterinarians. Although she is unsure that she would like a career in veterinary medicine, Hannah would like to attend Cornell University to major in the agricultural field.
When asked what she does for fun Hannah replied, “My brothers and I like riding four wheelers in the pasture. Josh and I play sports on the lawn, and work is fun ... I love the animals.”
“The Herkimer dairy court is a lot of my friends,” Hannah said. “We live fairly close and have grown close through the dairy princess program. It will be really fun.”
Hannah takes on the promotion of the dairy industry in the same way that she does all her activities &tstr; with laughter, enjoyment and pride.