10 Questions With Penn State Freshman & Dairy Princess Paige Peiffer
Not even a global pandemic could stop Penn State freshman Paige Peiffer from moo-ving through her reign as the Pennsylvania State Dairy Princess.
Last September, she was crowned the 2019-2020 Pennsylvania Dairy Princess at the annual pageant held in Harrisburg. Since then, Peiffer has spent time traveling around the state alongside her two alternates to promote the dairy industry, meet county dairy promotion teams, and connect farmers with their consumers.
We sat down with Peiffer to discuss her unique role, her take on Pennsylvania’s dairy industry, and the beginning of her Penn State career.
OS: What’s your connection to the dairy industry?
PP: I consider myself to be very fortunate to have been able to grow up on my family’s third-generation dairy farm in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. I think that growing up through the dairy industry and the agricultural environment allowed me to develop such a strong passion for agriculture and inspired me to be an advocate for the industry.
OS: What made you decide to run for dairy princess ?
PP: It is not uncommon knowledge to know that the dairy industry has been struggling for the past several years and it wasn’t until our family farm hit rock bottom that I really wanted to try and make a difference. Almost three years ago, my family suffered a milk contract cancelation, meaning that if we didn’t find someone else to ship our milk, we would have had to sell out and end the family farm.
Luckily, we were able to obtain another contract through a local milk cooperative but I still consider my family and a lot of other dairy farming families in my area the lucky ones. It’s with that great appreciation and thankfulness for a second chance that I decided to run as dairy princess so that one day, no other dairy farming family has to go through that heartbreaking situation that many families had to go through in my county.
OS: What is the process of becoming a dairy princess at both the county and state level?
PP: The process of becoming a county dairy princess usually consists of creating a presentation/skit that is normally performed for certain age groups, writing a speech based on certain prompts, and an interview. Every county competition is slightly different but ultimately the county pageant should help to prepare the princess for the state pageant held every September. At the state pageant, each princess is judged and scored based on their presentations/skits, speeches, scrapbooks, tri-fold display presentations, radio-spot contests, recipe contests, and a dairy industry knowledge exam. The night of the pageant, seven princesses are picked to be in the “top seven” which they are all given an impromptu question in front of the entire crowd. The process can be quite nerve-wracking, but the experience was unforgettable, and I am so grateful that I was able to go through it with so many other amazing dairy princesses.
OS: What has your job as the Pennsylvania State Dairy Princess entailed?
PP: As a county dairy princess, you represent the dairy farmers in your county, but on the state level, the PA Dairy Princess is in charge of representing the entire industry within our commonwealth. Throughout this past year, I have been meeting with many different people with many different levels of importance within the dairy industry whether it be people located in government positions or everyday consumers.
I made one goal for myself this year and that was to help bring better days to farmers and to bridge the wide gap between consumers and farmers and although this pandemic made it hard to accomplish those goals, I have still continued to promote the dairy industry with 100% honesty which has helped me to connect with so many different people. The PA Dairy Princess and the State Royalty Team also serves as a role model and inspiration for the county dairy princesses as well. Winning the crown and sash came with great responsibility that doesn’t just include promoting but also planning multiple events and seminars to prepare young ladies and gentlemen to serve within this program.
OS: How has the coronavirus impacted your reign? How have you worked around it?
PP: The coronavirus has definitely not been my friend this past year. I lost out on my only high school prom, my graduation, my 18th birthday, and impacted my dairy princess reign greatly. With many of our most important events being canceled, especially during June Dairy Month, me and my two alternates turned to social media as the new way to promote. I always tell people that I was born in the wrong generation since social media is not my specialty, but, if anything, this four-month quarantine helped to open my eyes to the outreach that social media brings. As a state team, we were no longer allowed to shake hands with farmers, meet eyes with people in government, or plan in-person promotions for consumers, [so] we had to find ways to do that through a camera and multiple social media outlets.
OS: Do you have a favorite Berkey Creamery flavor?
PP: Although I have been to the Creamery a handful of times in my life, I cannot remember which flavors I tried! So no, technically I do not have a favorite Berkey Creamery flavor but I am happy to add that to my to-do list. I can say with 100% confidence that there will not be a week that goes by without a scoop or two of the legendary ice cream which is something that I am greatly looking forward to.
OS: Why did you choose Penn State?
PP: I chose Penn State because it is the perfect balance between social and professional development to help prepare me for my future. [I’m a huge] fan of the agricultural programs that Penn State offers and loved the beautiful campus as well.
OS: Now that you are a student at Penn State, how do you plan to use your title to continue to advocate for the dairy industry?
PP: I think through my experiences here at Penn State I will continue to develop myself and continue to farther my education about the agriculture industry. In doing so, I hope to use the newfound knowledge to continue to connect with fellow peers, classmates, and consumers about the agriculture industry as a whole. I’m hoping to be involved in many different extracurricular agriculture-based clubs to help me to achieve that development and those opportunities!
OS: What has your favorite memory been as the Pennsylvania State Dairy Princess?
PP: I think one of my favorite memories that I have had after the kind of year we experienced would have happened last week. I had the opportunity to meet with a county senator on my family farm and I was able to share with the reality of the dairy industry. I would consider it to be one of the most impactful promotions that I’ve had because my senator treated me as an equal and took my words to heart. I have many a plethora of memories this year despite being short-handed on events and promotions and I honestly wouldn’t have changed this year for anything.
OS: As per Onward State tradition, if you were a dinosaur, what would you be and why?
PP: Well considering the fact that I had to do some extensive research including reading many articles and several YouTube videos, to answer this question means that I really don’t know anything about dinosaurs. However, if I really were to choose to be a prehistoric beast, I think that I would be a stegosaurus because if I’m being quite honest, those dinosaurs looked the absolute coolest with their bony mohawks and spiked tail. I would be a little disappointed to have to become [an] herbivore as I love a good cheeseburger or cheesesteak, but I would never pass up the opportunity to be a dinosaur!
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