‘Farm kid’ reigns as dairy princess
Despite COVID-19 restrictions, 17-year-old Katelyn Taylor has been determined to fulfill her role as the 2020 Lycoming County Dairy Princess. Her duties are to promote and represent the dairy farmers and industry within the county, while assisting at state events.
Although her reign ends May 31, 2021, Taylor said she has taken every opportunity to attend events, meetings and special functions to share her story and the facts about dairy products and farm life.
“Due to COVID-19 restrictions and countless cancellations, I have also tried to utilize more social media platforms, which I set up for our county to promote,” she said. “I have partnered with East Lycoming Shopper to offer coloring contests and offered special prizes and even delivered several prizes to share my excitement with others. I have worked with local radio stations to have live interviews, as well as, record public service announcements.”
In order to be considered and chosen to take on the role as Lycoming County Dairy Princess, the individual must meet specific criteria: to live on or work on a farm, to be a family member of an individual working in the industry, and/or own dairy animals. To be chosen, the individual must be 16 to 24 years old, never married, with no children, and is required to present a skit and a speech at the local level. The princess also competes at a state-level pageant each fall.
Taylor’s family does not have a farm where dairy cattle are milked on site, but they do reside on a farm where she raises dairy heifers, which, when ready to have a baby, move on to a dairy farm to be milked.
“I currently have cows housed in Lycoming and Bradford counties,” Taylor said. “My family’s farm is primarily a broiler chicken farm (raised mainly for meat production), where we raise nearly 100,000 chickens. We also have a herd of Black Angus and operate a sawdust hauling business. Sawdust is one of the many products that are used for breeding and to help keep animals comfortable.”
Taylor has used her dairy princess platform to promote and share her story as much, and as often, as she can. Her top priority is to educate others on how the dairy industry impacts the economy.
“Many times, when we think of purchasing dairy products, milk, cheese and yogurt come to mind; however, the gallon of milk you purchase helps support 52,000 jobs across the commonwealth and supports $52 billion in our national economy,” she said.
Taylor has been busy visiting active dairy farmers within the county and some farmers in surrounding counties where a dairy princess isn’t present or there is no active promoting team. She has also worked hard to ensure that the food insecurities in the area are being addressed, providing fall and winter contributions to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. She did this by raising funds through a cookbook called “Gert’s Goodies,” a school project that allowed her to fundraise on behalf of various organizations.
“The PA Dairy Princess Promotions Services partners with the nonprofit Fill a Glass with Hope in efforts to provide milk to food banks across Pennsylvania,” she said.
Taylor’s mother, Laura Taylor, described her daughter as “driven to make us proud and please others.”
“Everything Katelyn does, she strives to do her best and always sets a personal goal for herself,” Laura said. “She has always been a respectful child and teenager. She is always willing and interested in trying and participating in clubs, organizations and sports, eager to ask questions to obtain answers and strives to new levels with competitions and challenges.”
The proud mother is quick to challenge others to give her daughter a chance when someone refers to her as “just a teenager.” According to Laura, Taylor has always been willing to help people, even after being told she wasn’t needed; puts others first, despite her own needs; wants to succeed in everything she does; is willing to absorb all that she can; and very seldom is found sitting down, unless it’s for a class or while completing homework.
Laura recognizes the challenges of growing up on a farm – she was a “dairy farm kid” herself – and she understands the wear and tear the lifestyle can have on families. But, as she said, “It’s not easy being a princess, but someone has to do it and she has done an outstanding job,” surpassing the expectations of the dairy princess promotion committee. Taylor was one of the top seven finalists at the state pageant in September 2020 and received Honorable Mention with both the Dairy Knowledge Exam and her scrapbook at the pageant.
“She is truly driven to challenge herself each and every day,” Laura said.
Once her reign ends, Taylor will pursue a new title – that of student. She was accepted at Penn State University, Main Campus, where she will pursue a major in agricultural sciences in the fall of 2021.