This Saturday, January 11, we get ready to name our 2014 Utah Dairy Ambassadors. As she prepares to pass the torch, Lacey Papageorge, one of our 2013 Ambassadors shares her experiences this past year.
By Guest Blogger and Dairy Ambassador Lacey Papageorge
I was born and raised on a dairy farm and as a little girl, I always watched the dairy princesses at various events my family attended. I made up my mind way back in elementary school and I had a dream, a goal to become one of those princesses. Since then, the title has changed, but at 18 I was selected as the Weber County Dairy Ambassador. At 19, my ultimate dream was realized when after interviews and demonstrations, the 2013 Utah Dairy Ambassadors were announced, and I was one of them. I was ecstatic when I realized I was about to live my childhood dream.
My first event was in St. George Utah, and I was very excited to attend the Utah Dairy Convention. This is when I really got to know Hadley, my co-ambassador, and we became best friends. This was a great first event – we helped set things up and had the opportunity to meet dairy farm families from around Utah. We had a lot of fun, and the keynote speaker was Alex Smith, so we were able to meet him! The last night of the convention they had a hypnotist at dinner, and we willingly volunteered to be hypnotized. I don’t remember much of this, but from what I have been told it was very funny to watch.
My favorite part of this year has been teaching elementary school students and their parents and teachers about dairy products and cows. Teaching has allowed me to share my passion for the dairy industry with over 3,000 people in Weber, Utah, Salt Lake, and Cache Counties. Events I taught at included Farm Field Day events when students go on field trips to a farm and visit various booths to learn about different parts of agriculture. Of course I taught about dairy! I also helped lead a few school assemblies. I enjoy the challenge of teaching. While presenting I always have to stay on my toes and be ready for questions, some of which require creative answers. One of my favorite, commonly asked questions was “How does a mamma cow have a baby calf?” This question always required some creativity because I did not want to explain reproduction to groups of second graders. It was also fun to learn from the students and adapt to what type of teaching they were used to. Some classes liked to answer lots of questions and be loud while others preferred raising their hands with their answers. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed speaking to the public about the dairy industry.
As ambassadors, we were able to help at a new event in May called “Day on the Farm.” It was held at a dairy farm in Midway, Utah, and we had hundreds of people come out and see the farm and learn about cows. We answered questions, helped lead farm tours, and passed out free snacks like milk, cheese sticks and ice cream. On the farm tours we helped lead and answer questions while the owner of the farm told us about his cows, their food, and his farm.
In mid-July, we had a media tour. Earlier in the year we did training on how to do TV and radio interviews, and this proved to be very useful. The morning started out with a lot of fun because my mom and I were taking a calf from our farm down to the Channel 2 News Studios in Salt Lake City. The calf was only a few days old, and we loaded her into the back of the truck complete with a topper for her to be safe and inside. We wanted the calf to be happy and safe during our adventure, so we gave her sawdust to lay in, and frozen two liter bottles to lay on if she got hot, since it was the middle of the summer. Once we got down to Salt Lake and took the calf out of the truck, she was nervous being in the big city and did not want to walk very much, so my mom carried her. As we walked down the street, everyone we passed and the news studio employees stopped what they were doing to come pet the baby calf. It was so fun to talk to people and let them pet her. They got to pet an animal they had never been around before, and we got to tell them about dairy cows. Our news interview went great, and we had fun sharing information about the dairy industry with their viewers. My mom took the calf home as soon as our TV interview was over; she was tired after being a star. Our media tour continued with an interview at KSOP radio station and then a trip to a children’s hospital where we gave out Got Milk? shirts and cow glasses to kids and their families. It was really fun to see how excited the little kids got when we came to visit. The staff was very excited we were there and insisted getting a picture with us to add to their dairy ambassador wall. Meeting all of these sweet people was an amazing experience, and it sure made me appreciate being healthy a lot more. This was one of my favorite days of the summer.
Continuing our summer of events, we represented farmers in July at the Ogden Farmers Market. At this Agriculture Day event, farmers of all different kinds get together to bring farm animals and equipment into the middle of Ogden for all of the people to see. We ran the dairy booth and gave out cheese sticks and answered questions about the cows, and their products.
At the Utah State Fair in September, we helped hand out ribbons during the heifer show. Having participated in this show in the past, it was fun for me to watch all of my friends show their heifers. Later that afternoon we helped at the annual Utah Ice Cream Festival, which is an all you can eat ice cream party. We handed out prizes, and talked to people. Both events this day were a lot of fun and I loved the all you can eat ice cream. This was my last state event, and I was sad to see them end.
Lucky for me the Cache County Dairy Princess who are part of the same program were very kind and asked me to assist them at two events. Cache County is where I live now that I am attending Utah State University. The first event I helped with was a College of Agriculture event it was a Utah’s Own Barbeque. We were able to set up our tent and hand out local cheese to everyone who came in. I had a lot of fun getting to know the three Cache County girls. Later they asked me to help at the Gossner Foods Traveler Classic Basketball tournament. This is a basketball tournament put on for Utah State by Gossner Foods a local dairy product plant. There were six games and we attended all of them. We assisted with give a ways and competitions during time outs and half time. My favorite part was walking through the crowd between games and talking to fans about having three a day of dairy and giving out teddy bears to the littlest fans. We were also honored during the Championship game on the last day of the tournament. Wearing my red Jr. Prom dress I was escorted my dad a dairy farmer and presented for my year of work as a Utah Dairy Ambassador. By the end of the tournament I had made three awesome new friends.
This year was fantastic I feel truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to represent the Dairy Farmers of Utah. I loved every second of it, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I love all of the people I got to meet and work with, and I made a lot of new friends in people I would have never met otherwise. There were many things I learned and even a few events I did not have time to talk about. This was one of the best adventures of my life, and it was because of all of the people I met along the way.