- August 12, 2020
For a bibliophile, it is finding an unusual limited edition book. For a philatelist, it is finding a rare stamp. For a leadership guru, it is finding a young person who not only has the potential for leadership but is already a leader! Getting elected as a class officer in high school is not based
For a bibliophile, it is finding an unusual limited edition book. For a philatelist, it is finding a rare stamp. For a leadership guru, it is finding a young person who not only has the potential for leadership but is already a leader! Getting elected as a class officer in high school is not based on leadership but popularity. But for a high school student to be an influence and inspiration to everyone, from young to old — that is indeed a leader. And that is why I could barely believe my ears as I met and talked with 15-year old Katelyn Taylor, a Montgomery Area High School junior who represents the dairy industry in this area as the official Dairy Maid.
The position of Dairy Maid does not sound very glamorous and brings to mind sitting on a parade float dressed in a period costume and waving to the crowd. And yes, Katelyn Taylor, being quite an attractive and charming young lady, fills that role very well when asked to do so. But her real job is being a spokesperson for the dairy industry. She is a one-girl show, answering any request to speak to a group, but she also has to be judicious with her time. She explained that there are three groups of people when it comes to dairy products. There are the “just-say-no” non-consumers who have sworn not to use dairy (to be avoided, waste of time). There are the hard-liners who love dairy (don’t need to be encouraged). And then there are the “iffys” who are on the fence. This group is where Katelyn focuses her energy.
Katelyn’s presentations take her everywhere — from daycare centers to old-folks homes.
At the daycare, she reads a book called “Making Pancakes” that goes backward from the kitchen to the store to the farm where the products originally came from. Katelyn reads the book and plays a game, and as a result, the children are now excited about milk products.
In the senior citizen centers, Katelyn opens up by asking trivia questions, generally revolved around health (not surprisingly, a very important subject among the older generation). She uses their responses to explain how doing “three-dairy a day” can improve eyesight, bone health, and provide a more balanced diet. Katelyn takes questions not just about dairy but also the importance of fruits and vegetables. Her poise in answering these inquiries are evidence that this young lady knows what she is talking about.
Leaving no stone unturned, Katelyn even went to the State Capital in Harrisburg to speak with legislators about the importance of the dairy industry to Pennsylvania and even prepared milkshakes for the senators. This was appropriate, of course, because it could both soften them up and shake them at the same time!
Let me remind the reader again that we are talking about a young lady who has just finished her sophomore year in high school! Actually, Katelyn has been preparing for this role almost since she was born. At the age of three, she was already helping out at the family farm, and at age seven, she envisioned herself representing the county as Dairy Maid. The position had been vacant for eight years, and it was Katelyn’s lobbying efforts that finally got it reinstated.
Katelyn learned and practiced public speaking with 4-H. She practiced her skills in animal husbandry through the Centre County PA Junior Holstein Association. And like her other endeavors, Katelyn has excelled. Her four-person team won the state title in 2018, which also placed 2nd in the nation.
In the photo, Katelyn is proudly posing with her heifer Today, which she is entering in a 4-H regional completion along with her other heifer, Tomorrow. She is not a prima donna by any stretch, but an honest-to-goodness farm girl who is passionate about the benefits of dairy products.
The nuclear scientist Robert Oppenheimer once remarked that the best way to communicate an idea is to wrap it up in a person. There is no better advocate for the dairy industry anywhere than Katelyn Taylor.