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Reporter's Notebook

June 9, 2012

Dairy Princess winners get a chance to learn valuable skills

One of my favorite annual events to cover is the crowning of the Delaware County Dairy Princess. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the dairy promotion event in the county, chairwoman Barbara Hanselman of South Kortright put together some interesting facts. Her daughter, 17-year-old Miquela, was crowned princess last month and Cali Lutz, 17, also from South Kortright, was named alternate.

The first princess' only responsibility was to compete in the contest at the New York State Fair. Linda Hager Bailey had that honor. She noted that her most memorable and exciting experience was her selection, because it took place during a thunderstorm at the Delaware County Fair in Walton. She is retired from a career in law and lives in Ukiah, Calif., near her son and daughter and five grandchildren.

Today, the dairy princess and her team have a busy year. Not only will they become better public speakers as the year progresses, but they will also learn time management, prioritizing and leadership.

From 1963 to 1989, the state contest was held in August, and if a girl won that event, she had to give up her county crown. Shari Johnson was the first Delaware County state princess to do so, and she handed her crown to Cathy Moody, the first alternate, in 1985. The last girl to face that choice was Rebecca Conklin Stone, who won the state title in 1989. The Syracuse pageant has since been held in February. For the first 20 years of the program, the dairy princess carried a lunch pail that she decorated, along with her crown and sash. The "Got Milk" campaign debuted in 1993, when Lori Shaw Weykman was princess.

On a recent trip to Cooperstown, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service Deputy Administrator Jessica Zufolo announced funding for three projects, including $338,716 for distance learning and video teleconferencing equipment to connect local high schools and other educational facilities in the 12 school districts of Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

It will help ensure that citizens in the area have access to the same array of educational opportunities available to people in urban areas, Zufolo said.

Also during the trip, Zufolo and staff for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand led a roundtable discussion in Cooperstown on ways to provide affordable high-speed Internet to rural New Yorkers. She spoke about federal resources available to expand rural broadband access, as well as support for new and existing rural businesses, workforce training programs, and services critical to the economic future of rural areas.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $165 billion in loans and loan guarantees.

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