Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rensselaer County Dairy Princess and Hoosic Valley student Leah Remington Says Farewell

Princess Leah Remington
I wrote in December, how since being named Rensselaer County Dairy Princess in July, Hoosic Valley High School junior Leah Remington religiously emailed The Record every week with her dairy princess update. Well, the Hoosic Valley High School student's reign is coming to a close. Below is her final missive. We wish her all the best!.

From Princess Leah:

Eighty-five thousand servings, that’s how much dairy the average person should consume during their lifetime. My goal, as Rensselaer County Dairy Princess, was to encourage a bunch of kids to become lifelong dairy consumers.

 During my reign, I’ve had more than 80 newspaper articles published in The Express, Eagle, Pennysaver, Agricultural News, Country Folks, Eastwick Press, Troy Record and Times Union. Each weekly article not only contained a dairy recipe, but a paragraph or two on what I was doing as the Dairy Princess, a dairy update or personal thoughts on my life or life on the farm. I wrote several detailed articles for Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Agricultural News. The Times Union also did an extensive interview and article about me and the Dairy Princess program.

I attended more than 75 community events. I proudly contributed to a Wegman’s Cooking Demonstration disaster with Melissa Osgood (ADADC) and State Dairy Princess Katie Brosnan at the State Fair. I spent numerous sweltering, dusty hours in the judging arena, observing kids proudly showing their dairy cows. I’ve explained to students that being the Dairy Princess does not, unfortunately, entitle me to special privileges at Cinderella’s Castle. I hosted, with other Princesses, the banquet at State Fair where Battenkill Dairy won the prestigious award for the highest quality milk in the State. I scooped hundreds of ice cream cones. I can’t recall one event that I attended where I didn’t have a great time.

One of my favorite experiences during this year was visiting ARC’s Brunswick Center Services, a school for the disabled. I explained to the students how to make milk punch and we worked together on the recipe…laughing, visiting and making a mess along the way. They were so excited and happy to have me there and I was just as thrilled to be there. I realized during that visit, that those students stole a little bit of my heart. They gave me something valuable in return. They made me realize that not only do I want to be a teacher, but I would like to major in special education.

We put lots of mileage on, and spent countless hours in, the car. It was worth every minute and every mile. I know many farm businesses are closing and it hits close to home. I can relate to the farmers and the families who have had to sell their cows or even their farms. So many people are so far removed from farming that they don’t realize the farm’s importance to their lives and those of their family.

I have reached out to the young, the old, and everyone in between; to teach them the importance of supporting dairy farming and understanding the effort farmers make to provide them with nature’s most perfect beverage. I’ve tried to instill in them the huge benefits of consuming three servings of dairy every day. I could go on forever about it, but then I’m preaching to the choir…

My reign as Rensselaer County Dairy Princess has come to an end. It has been a busy year and it has gone by fast. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful people and made some friends that I can’t imagine my life without.

I want to thank those that supported me since the day I decided to pursue this journey. I have been encouraged by those that have read my articles and taken the time to drop me an email or letter to tell me I was doing a great job, stopped me at an event to tell me that you appreciated my efforts, or invited me to an event where I could spread the dairy message.

As I say goodbye, I’d like to thank the Rensselaer County Dairy Farmers. Without the support of our farmers, there wouldn’t be a Dairy Princess Program. I feel honored and privileged to have served you. You have, what I consider, one of the toughest, most underappreciated jobs in the world. I hope I’ve left a positive mark on your industry.

I am so fortunate to have had this experience; it has helped me become a better person. Not many people can say they are a Princess, but now I can (I’ve got the tiara and pictures to prove it)!

I encourage anyone interested in serving your community and your dairy farmers to consider getting involved in your local Dairy Princess committee. The Dairy Princess program is made possible through the support of the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council – the local planning and management organization funded by dairy farmer check-off dollars.
I had many opportunities to teach children, as well as adults, about the importance of milk and dairy products, farming and our dairy farmers.


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