Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassadors will be promoting the dairy industry and its products to attendees at the Northwest Ag Show Jan. 16-18. Concurrently, they will gain more experience in public interaction.
Coming several months after the eight county ambassadors started training to be an Oregon Dairy Princess, the Northwest Ag Show is, in some respects, the final learning opportunity for the ambassadors before their coronation.
Come Saturday night, Jan. 19, the ambassadors will display their dairy knowledge and communication skills – skills that have been honed in multiple one-on-one sessions and public appearances over the past several months.
And, it is safe to say, they all will be more practiced than when they started.
“It is like night and day the progress you see from when the dairy princess ambassadors start in the spring until they get to January,” said Jessica Kliewer, state director of the Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador Program. “Their public speaking skills and their poise, their transformation is incredible to see, because we invest so much in them in the training and the mentorship.
“We are just very proud when we get to January and see them on stage and answering questions and giving their speeches,” Kliewer said.
Now in its 60th year, the Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador program has trained hundreds of young women in communication skills and poise, all while promoting the dairy industry.
This year, 35 dairy women have helped in mentorship and training, Kliewer said.
“We do a lot of training, so when the ambassadors are in the public, they are fully prepared,” Kliewer said.
Among other training, the program educates ambassadors about the nutritional benefits of dairy products and what goes into producing dairy products, including animal care and other on-farm elements.
“We train on hot topics,” Kliewer said. “There are a lot of questions about animal care, animal feed and different things like that. We just try to really impress upon the public how much dairy farmers care for their cows and how much they do to ensure a high-quality product, and all the different pieces that go into that production.
“People are so removed from the farm way of life that they don’t really understand what all goes into it,” she said.
Young women ages 17 to 23 qualify for the ambassador program through a variety of connections, including participating in a 4-H or FFA dairy project, growing up on a dairy farm, or even if a parent works at a dairy processing plant.
Ambassadors volunteer at several events over the course of a year, including at county fairs and the Oregon State Fair, which provides the organization its biggest fundraiser each year through the sale of ice cream in the fair’s red barn.
Ambassadors also participate in Dairy Day at the Oregon Legislature, where they are encouraged to meet with state legislators.
And, come Jan. 19, one ambassador will be named Oregon Dairy Princess, a two-year appointment that includes a college scholarship and other benefits.
“It is a really wonderful program both for the industry and for the young women,” Kliewer said.