By GEOFF PARKS
For the Capital Press
SALEM -- Kaitie Brawley, of Aumsville, is the 2013 Oregon Dairy Princess-Ambassador.
She was chosen to represent the state dairy industry during a Jan. 19 competition in Salem.
Brawley, 19, represented Marion County and bested girls from nine other counties in the event, which was sponsored by the Oregon Dairy Women. She graduated from Salem Academy High School in 2012 and was a member of the National Honor Society and captain of the varsity swim team, cross-country team and track team. She attends Chemeketa Community College and plans to pursue a degree in business management from Oregon State University.
Emma Miller, of Polk County, was named first alternate and Taryn Martin, of Tilla-mook County, was voted the congeniality award by the other finalists.
Also competing were Courteney Ellis, of Clackamas County; Mikela Heimuller, of Columbia County; Ashly Ann Lemhouse, of Lane County; Brittany Steele, of Linn and Benton counties; Melissa Ausman, of Malheur County; Stefani Evers, of Washington County; and Breanne Steele, of Yamhill County.
Brawley currently is employed by DeJager Dairy Farm as a calf feeder. Her parents are Bill and Alice Brawley.
"Our program typically attracts six to eight counties who want to sponsor girls," Maril Rueck said.
Rueck, director of ODW's ambassador program, said the "high visibility" generated by the program's promotion and travel schedule, combined with the 17-to-23 age spread for entrants, helped more counties sponsor a candidate.
"That's an exciting combination," she said. "Also, we had more younger participants this year -- four of the girls are seniors in high school."
"It was fun to see so many (participants) this year," said Sandra Twigg of the Princess-Ambassador program. "Ten girls is more than we've had in quite a few years."
The amount of scholarship money for the girls was up this year as well, Rueck said.
"Total scholarship money given out was $21,510," she said. The 2012 retiring state Princess-Ambassador, Kristen Kaste, received $14,275, with the remainder divided between last year's first alternate, Kara Hansen, and Brawley, Miller and Martin -- who will receive more at the end their year representing the state program.
The 54th coronation banquet, held at the Red Lion Hotel, featured a theme of "Welcome to Rio."