City, state: Norwich, New York
Reign year: 2021-22
Summary of yourself and your ag/dairy background:
I am 23 years old and reside in Norwich, New York, with my parents Sue and Barry Benjamin. I currently own seven show cattle that I show at the county, state and national level, while also being a full-time student at SUNY Morrisville studying ag science. I hope to start a career in agriculture marketing with the hopes of staying in the dairy industry. I did not originally grow up in the dairy industry and instead grew up with horses. Eight years ago, I was given the opportunity to show a Brown Swiss, and it was love at first sight. Since then, my love and knowledge of the industry has grown, and I wanted to do my part to help the industry in my own way, which led me to being a state dairy princess.
How your reign started:
The way I became state princess was different than others in the past. I was crowned county princess during the height of COVID-19. However, I still got to participate in a few school programs and farmers meetings while also having a social media presence. At the state pageant, we competed in dairy product knowledge, an interview, written communication, an impromptu and prepared speech. My prepared speech was on the benefits chocolate milk had on student athletes.
Your promotion activities over the past year:
Throughout the year, my team and I had plans to keep a strong online presence. Together we did videos on how to make grilled cheese and butter. I also personally went to a few different school events, such as a food drive where they had a variety of different dairy products. There I got to answer questions they had about dairy and what they could make with the products they received. Any promotion where I got to go out and make personal connections and answer questions I enjoyed a lot.
Specific promotion activity you are most proud of from your reign:
One promotion that made me really proud was getting to collaborate with all of the state dairy princesses for June Dairy Month. Together we made a video from around the country showing our favorite places in our states. Another promotion I personally was proud of was spotlighting all the county princesses throughout the month of August. This felt near and dear to me as they work hard all year finding new and different ways to show off the hardworking farmers in their county, and I want them to know their efforts didn’t go unnoticed.
What you think it takes to be successful at promoting dairy:
I think it takes having a love and passion for the industry as well as being yourself and understanding others. Other may not understand why you do what you do and might ask questions that seem odd or harsh, but being able to answer their questions in a nonjudgmental way they can understand is important. I feel I have been able to connect with others because I grew up a consumer too and didn’t know the terminology in the beginning either. And, I’m not afraid to say that I am still learning. Whether it is learning from my state’s princesses, a farmer I met or the Lily Marshman I show with, to be a great promoter you have to be willing to learn and listen to those around you.
PHOTO: Hay season is Shelby Benjamin’s favorite time of year because the smell makes her feel calm and happy. Photos provided by Shelby Benjamin.
- Progressive Dairy
- Email Audrey Schmitz