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North Collins resident named alternate state princess

Shelby Benjamin, from Chenango County, left, was named the 2021-2022 New York State Dairy Princess. The first alternate is Holly Niefergold, center, a sophomore at North Collins Jr/Sr High School. The second alternate is Elizabeth Hyman, right, of Jefferson County.

SYRACUSE — Shelby Benjamin from Chenango County was crowned the 2021-2022 New York State Dairy Princess on February 16th during a virtual ceremony livestreamed from the Embassy Suites by Hilton Syracuse Destiny USA in Syracuse, New York. Having served as the Chenango County Dairy Princess since spring of 2020, Benjamin will devote an additional year to promoting milk and dairy products with American Dairy Association North East (ADANE).

As state princess, she receives a $1,200 scholarship and will serve as a dairy industry ambassador and spokesperson, advocating for dairy farmers by engaging with and educating consumers on the nutritional benefits of milk and dairy foods, how farmers care for their cows and their land in order to produce a sustainable product, and the importance of the dairy industry to the State’s economy. She will also play an integral role in the training and mentoring of new county dairy princesses.

Holly Niefergold, a North Collins Jr/Sr High School, Sophomore, was named first Alternate State Princess, and Elizabthy Hyman from Jefferson County was selected as second Alternate State Princess. They receive a $700 scholarship and $600 scholarship, respectively. Both young women will assist the New York State Dairy Princess with training, appearances and other duties.

While the typical role of a dairy princess is to work with ADANE at a variety of special events, including local dairy princess pageants, farmer meetings, state and county fairs, school visits, and sampling dairy products at grocery stories, COVID-19 altered many of those responsibilities. With an increase in need for food assistance due to the pandemic, dairy princesses played an important role promoting milk distribution events organized by ADANE and assisted in handing out milk and dairy foods at various local events.

Eleven county dairy princesses competed in the state pageant, which included a personal interview, impromptu questions, a prepared adult speech, a product knowledge exam, writing skills test, and informal interaction with others. Judges evaluated the contestants on their communication skills, knowledge of the dairy industry, poise and personality.

Pageant judges were: Haley Groat, Lutz Feed Company and Heidi Kovalewski, Onondaga County Dairy Promotion Coordinator.

Sponsored by ADANE, the 58th annual coronation completed the yearlong reign of Natalie Vernon of Wayne County.

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