Makayla Bedford of Hillsgrove, standing next to this year’s roster of Dairy Princess from across the state, shined on her day as dairy royalty at the 108th Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg on Jan. 12.
Story and photos by Rick Hiduk
(originally published in the Sullivan Review)
Makayla Bedford of Hillsgrove Township is no stranger to the Pennsylvania Farm Show. She has attended several time to represent Sullivan County in the 4-H booth, and she did that again on Jan. 12. But she also took a turn in the Dairy Promotion Corner this year as Sullivan County’s Diary Princess.
Makayla’s tenure with the state’s Dairy Promotion Program is shorter than most. She only became involved last year and then became princess in May. But she is enjoying the experiences that it has led her too so far and intends to ramp up her activity with the organization over the next few months.
She is no stranger to the program, however. Her mother, Carrie, was Sullivan County Diary Princess in 1995/96, and her aunt, Melanie Hottenstein (Paris), served in the same capacity in 1992-93. Makayla credits Sullivan County Diary Promotion Committee Chairmperson Noreen Rouse Keeney for keeping things together and being a great motivator.
“Stepping into the Dairy Princess role can be nerve wracking and scary, especially getting up in front of people and speaking and being interviewed. But Makayla never seems nervous. It just comes naturally to her,” Keeney offered. “She is not afraid to try anything. She is always coming up with new promotion ideas and wants to get out there to the consumers and do as much as possible.”
In fact, Makayla is trying to figure out how to bring children face-to-face with dairy cows this spring when calving season begins. She doesn’t live on a farm herself, but Makayla gets exposure to farming in Forks Township where her uncle, Wes Hottenstein, and family raise dairy cows, beef cattle and goats.
At the Farm Show, Makayla was working with Dairy Promotion representatives from across the state speaking with guests about the importance of Dairy to personal health and the economic vitality of the dairy industry to rural areas.
They also played interactive games with visiting children who often have no experience with cows outside the Farm Show. Coincidentally, the Calving Corner is at the opposite end of the room so that children of all ages can get a sense of dairy farming from birthing to milking to finished dairy products. When asked what seems to surprise youngsters the most when she is giving presentations, Makayla replied, “That it doesn’t hurt the cows to be milked.” It’s actually very relaxing and relieving for them, she tells them.
Makayla also has opportunities to take her message to smaller groups of children in school and civic group settings. The daughter of Carrie and the late Corey Richmond is a junior at Sullivan County High School where she enjoys history, art, effective speaking classes, and golf. With the elementary school on the same campus, it’s fairly easy for her to visit the students there for presentations.
As much as she enjoys working with children and speaking to other groups, she jokes that the most fun she has had so far as Dairy Princess was having the opportunity to send a teacher for a plunge in a dunk tank.
Makayla takes being an ambassador seriously and sees both her 4-H and Dairy Promotion experiences as stepping stones toward her future. As a history buff, she is especially intrigued by the Gettysburg battlefields that she has visited numerous times. Her ultimate goal is to be a park ranger at Gettysburg, but she cannot enter the program at Temple University until she is 21 due to firearms regulations. In the meantime, she is considering moving to the Gettysburg area after graduation from high school and possible staying with family nearby while she seeks a job or an internship related to the battlefields.
“Being Dairy Princess, she has already and will continue to learn about herself – her strengths and her weaknesses, what she enjoys doing, time management, and responsibility,” Keeney maintained. “All this will help her achieve Her goals and help her succeed with life. We are all so proud of all she has done in Sullivan County and representing the dairy industry.”
Sullivan County boys and girls who would like to know how to get involved with the Dairy Promotion Program can contact Keeney at 570-637-8203 or log on to Sullivan County Dairy Promotion Team-Pennsylvania on Facebook or PADairy.org for an expansive overview of the state program.
Sullivan County Dairy Princess Makayla Bedford talks with PA Farm Show guests about the importance of the dairy industry and how good dairy products are for the body.