Michigan Dairy Ambassador Scholarship and Leadership Program recipients Lauren Bush, Swartz Creek, and Kelsey Casebere, Clare, will have a full schedule of activities during the upcoming Michigan Dairy Expo and 4-H Dairy Days scheduled for July 18-23 at Michigan State University (MSU). In addition to representing and promoting the dairy industry throughout the week, the duo will be representing the Michigan Junior Holstein Association and MSU Dairy Club (Bush), presenting baskets of dairy products to buyers at the third annual Michigan Livestock Expo ‘Saleabration,’ handing out awards at the 4-H awards ceremony, and competing in 4-H contests and exhibiting animals in both the youth and open shows.
Bush, the 2011 senior ambassador and daughter of George Bush and Betsy Bush, is a junior studying animal science at Michigan State University (MSU). She is an active member of the MSU Dairy Club and has been active in 4-H for more than 10 years exhibiting dairy animals on the county, state and national levels. Bush was a member of the first place novice division team that competed in the MSU Dairy Challenge, and has competed nationally for the Michigan 4-H Dairy Cattle Judging Team at the All-American Dairy Cattle Show in Harrisburg, Pa.; World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis.; and North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Ky. More recently, she returned from a two-week tour of Europe as a member of the Michigan dairy judging program.
Casebere, the 2011 junior ambassador and daughter of Ken and Mary Casebere, graduated from Clare High School in May and will be a freshman studying animal science at Iowa State University in the fall. She is active in 4-H, serves on the Michigan Junior Holstein Association Board of Directors and participates in numerous school-based extracurricular activities.
One of the highlights of the ambassadors’ week will be volunteering at the Great Dairy Adventure, an annual consumer education day geared towards young families, daycares and summer camps. They will be organizing a flavored milk exhibit that explains the nutritional benefits of drinking chocolate milk and compares the nutritional value of chocolate milk to other food items.
Bush, who will also be volunteering at the MSU Dairy Club’s “I milked a cow!” hands-on exhibit, said that it’s important to provide positive experiences for children and their parents.
“People walk away from the Great Dairy Adventure with good ideas and factual information about dairy nutrition and how farmers produce milk, in addition to having had personal experiences petting a calf, milking a cow or even just seeing what a cow looks like,” she says. “I hope this (volunteer) experience not only lets me share my personal stories with moms and children, but that it also challenges me to answer the tough questions about milk and the dairy industry.”
Bush and Casebere were selected to represent the state’s dairy industry over the next year at the Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference (GLRDC) in February. The Michigan Dairy Ambassador Scholarship and Leadership Program was established by the GLRDC in 2006. The program provides future young dairy leaders with an opportunity to develop promotions and public service projects as well as represent the dairy industry at various functions throughout the year. The winner in the senior category is awarded a $1,500 scholarship; the winner in the junior division is awarded a $1,000 scholarship that can be applied toward a college education or the purchase of a dairy animal.
Casebere credits the ambassador program with providing networking opportunities that she might not have otherwise.
“It’s important to have the ambassador program because it helps young people connect with different organizations and meet different people in the industry,” she says. “In addition, ambassadors are given a chance to become more knowledgeable about the (dairy) industry and experience different opportunities that they might not otherwise have available to them.”
Bush adds that the program is important because it offers participants a chance to experience new things, be creative, meet people and discover more about themselves through educating others.
“I hope that others see me in this role and think that they could be part of it, too,” she shares. “The program is not just about a scholarship. It’s about leadership, education and building connections with the public and industry.”