County and state dairy promotion programs were created to help promote the nutritional benefits of milk and dairy products to consumers. Promoting at the grassroots level also helps boost dairy’s image and build a connection between consumers and those who are producing the dairy foods they enjoy.
Ultimately, though, being a dairy promoter is more than just a title. It’s an opportunity for young people to develop critical life skills that prepare them to enter the “real world” — skills that will support their future successes.
The six states in ADA North East’s region have top-notch dairy promotion programs at the county and state levels. We manage the New York and New Jersey programs and provide funding, training, and other resources to the programs in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and northern Virginia.
This summer, our staff coordinated a state-wide training seminar for New York dairy promoters and held workshops highlighting dairy checkoff promotion and marketing programs for the Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey promoters. Nearly 80 young advocates who are passionate about the dairy industry developed their professional skills and confidence at the seminars, learning from experts in public speaking, social media, team building, and leadership.
“Being able to observe the promoters’ growth and development throughout their participation in the program is remarkable,” said ADA North East director of consumer confidence Beth Meyer, who manages the association’s youth promotion programs. “We are continually creating more professional training opportunities to enhance the experience for all promoters, and as their confidence grows, they become even more effective advocates who provide a ‘face’ for the industry and build consumer trust in dairy.”
Often, county and state promoters choose careers within the dairy industry, building on the momentum that started at an early age.
“Being involved as a state dairy promoter was instrumental in identifying my passion and voice for advocating on behalf of the dairy industry,” said Emily Yeiser Stepp, a former Maryland state dairy princess who is now the executive director for the National Dairy FARM program of the National Milk Producers Federation. “Gaining confidence in taking an active role in advocacy translated directly to my professional career as I play a role in helping ensure a sustainable future for the dairy industry.”
Certainly, not everyone who serves as an ambassador or princess is going to seek a career in the dairy industry, but the skills learned as promoter carry through to other professions.
For example, my niece who was a county dairy promoter and state Jersey Queen earned a supply-chain management degree in college and was hired for a position with a company completely unrelated to agriculture. What set her apart in her interview was her dairy background — her ability to communicate and work in teams, the leadership roles she held, and her work ethic.
Most often, promoters who choose to work outside of the dairy industry will continue to promote milk and dairy products all their lives. Plus, they’ll always speak up for the dairy farmers who work 365 days a year to care for their cows and their land to produce a safe, nutritious product for consumers to enjoy.
After decades of dairy promotion efforts at the county and state levels, the programs remain strong in ADA North East’s six states because of the young promoters’ interest and the countless volunteers who keep the programs afloat on behalf of the nearly 9,000 dairy farmers in the region.
To learn more about dairy promotion, visit AmericanDairy.com, and click on “Dairy Farms.”
Jean Kummer is the industry communications specialist for American Dairy Association North East.