Michigan high school and college students who are interested in pursuing a career in the dairy industry have until Jan. 6 to apply for the 2012 Michigan Dairy Ambassador Scholarship and Leadership Program. The annual program, now in its seventh year, awards two scholarships, one to a junior winner and another to a senior winner. The senior division is reserved for college students up to age 22, and the winner receives a $1,500 scholarship. The junior division is limited to high school students in grades 9 to 12, and the winner goes home with $1,000 that can be applied toward higher education or purchasing a dairy animal within the upcoming year. Money raised during auctions held annually during the Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference (GLRDC) funds the scholarship.

The scholarship program is open to both male and female applicants. It is not mandatory that applicants come from or have experience working on a dairy farm, but they must plan to pursue a career related to the dairy industry, such as a farm owner, dietician, agribusiness person, veterinarian, food scientist or researcher.

Sara Long, founder of the scholarship program, says the program does not take a cookie-cutter approach to developing leadership skills, but instead offers sufficient flexibility so that leadership and learning experiences can be customized to meet the specific goals of the ambassador.

“This program provides the venue for young people to capitalize on their raw talents and develop new or enhance existing skills during the ambassador year,” she says. “We witness a transformation in these young people as they take projects written on paper and bring them to life. Whether it’s illustrating to daycare students how milk is produced or speaking publicly in front of a community group, the projects, media interviews and general education and promotion programs they participate in develop character, serve as a practical, professional skill-building opportunity and place them in front of many different audiences.”

Currently, Lauren Bush, a junior studying animal science at Michigan State University and native of Swartz Creek, Michigan, is serving as the 2011 senior Michigan Dairy Ambassador. Kelsey Casebere, a freshman at Iowa State University from Clare, Michigan, is the junior Michigan Dairy Ambassador. In exchange for the scholarship, the ambassadors represent Michigan’s dairy industry at a variety of educational, industrial and promotional events held across the state during the year. Ambassadors also have numerous opportunities to build leadership skills, begin focusing on career options and network with potential mentors and employers.


Individuals interested in applying for the 2012 Michigan Dairy Ambassador Scholarship and Leadership Program can download an application from www.glrdc.msu.edu, or contact Megghan Honke at (517) 353-3175. Applications must be submitted electronically to honkemeg@anr.msu.edu and will be accepted until Jan. 6.

The 2012 GLRDC takes place Feb. 9-11 at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

For conference schedule and registration information, click here or contact Megghan Honke. PD

—From GLRDC news release