Each of the young women set to compete in the virtual New York State Dairy Princess Pageant, on February 16, hopes she will be the selected to represent the dairy industry as the New York State Dairy Princess, a title currently held by Natalie Vernon.

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Photo: Left to Right: NYS Alternate Dairy Princess Erin Armitage, NYS Dairy Princess Natalie Vernon, NYS Alternate Dairy Princess Rachel Rouland.

Recounting a Taste of New York

Soon after receiving the title last February, Vernon and her State Dairy Princess Court, with alternates Rachel Rouland and Erin Armitage, found themselves attending the Taste of New York in Albany. “This was the first appearance Rachel, Erin, and I made together as the new State Court. Little did we know that it would also be one of our only appearances together in the world we used to call ‘normal’. We were able to connect with so many politicians and other significant individuals of the agricultural industry.”

Virtually, Everything

Then virtually everything came to a halt with the pandemic. Vernon and her court shifted from the typical in-person promotional efforts to social media channels to continue connecting with consumers and sharing the stories of local dairy farmers. “I am most proud of our new social media presence that Rachel, Erin, and I worked so hard toward at the very beginning of our reign. The New York State Dairy Princess Court never really had their own social media accounts before, and this team has worked hard to start from scratch and reach our communities in an entirely different way!”

Virtual Fair Play

While the New York State Fair was far from what it normally is, Vernon had the opportunity to make multiple appearances during the week-long virtual fair with American Dairy Association North East. “We were able to film a video for ‘Dairy Princess Day’ at El-Vi Farms, where we showed viewers how to make butter and ice cream.”

The (Dairy) Show Must Go On

Vernon also travelled to Dairy Shows. “For our fellow dairy farmers, the showing season this summer was very different from what it has been in the past. The showing community did not give up though and still managed to hold several dairy shows throughout the state! I personally was able to attend 3 shows in Cortland, N.Y., the New York State Holstein Show in Greenwich, along with the North American Open Dairy Cattle Show all the way out in Circleville, Ohio!”

All the while, Vernon kept the conversations going around the nutritional value of dairy products and how farmers’ care for their animals and practice environmental stewardship. “All three points are essential when doing our job to promote the industry, and time and time again I am reminded how well these three points all tie together. As we know, dairy provides consumers with so many great nutrients, but none of that would be possible without the hard work from our dairy farmers to care for their animals as well as the land.”

A Q & A with Natalie Vernon

Q: What will you take away from your experience as a New York State Dairy Princess?

Vernon: As I step away from my role as a New York State Dairy Princess, I will take a lot more away than just memories. This year has taught me so much and I am constantly blown away by the strength of the dairy industry, even during some of the most trying times. Being part of such an amazing community that is always there for each other whenever help is needed is something that I hope I can continue to assist with!

Q: What’s next for you?

Vernon: As I wrap up my time as the New York State Dairy Princess, I will continue to work toward my bachelor’s degree in communications. I also hope to pursue a master’s degree in agricultural communications, education, and leadership. My dream for the future is to have a career in Public Relations for the Agricultural Industry, doing similar work to what I have done as a New York State Dairy Princess!

Q: What do you hope or what advice do you have for the next New York State Dairy Princess and her court?

Vernon: My biggest piece of advice for the next New York State Dairy Princess and her court is to take in every single moment and opportunity you have while in this role. The year will most definitely go by much faster than you think. While things may not always be all that you imagined as a New York State Dairy Princess, always make the most of it and keep the goal of your job in the forefront of your mind. While it may seem hard to promote the industry during these times, think outside the box and don’t be afraid to get creative. You are the new voice for the dairy farmers of New York State, and it is your turn to tell their stories!