Pa. Alternate Dairy Princess Promotes Agriculture Wherever She Is

6/22/2013 7:00 AM
By Carol Ann Gregg Western Pa. Correspondent

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Whether at the podium giving a milk toast or selling produce from her family’s farm market in State College, Pa., Heather Wasson, 17, shares the story of Pennsylvania agriculture and the benefits of dairy in the diet to everyone she meets. And, it is a natural role, because dairy promotion is a big part of her farm family of six girls.

Wasson is one of the youngest daughters of Ronald and Candace Wasson and the third to serve as Pennsylvania state dairy royalty. Last September, she was crowned state alternate dairy princess at the Pennsylvania dairy princess pageant. Her sister, Nicole, was also a state alternate dairy princess in 2008-2009 and her sister, Krystal, was the state dairy princess in 2009-2010. She has two married sisters, Andrea and Trish, and a twin sister, Halee, who she recently crowned as the 2013-2014 Centre County dairy princess.

“I know that Dad and Mom are proud of us. Some of my dad’s friends feel sorry for him with all the girls at our house,” Wasson said. “All the cows in the barn are girls, too.”

The family’s Wasson Farm Market and Dairy is a small dairy operation, milking 45 cows. Wasson’s farm duties include getting ready for milking and cleaning up afterwards. She also feeds calves. And, from July through October, the Wassons have a farm market. Everyone helps pick and watch the market.

“I am a salesman in the market,” Heather said. “We have pumpkins that extend our season through October.”

Wasson credits her sisters with knowing how to communicate with people.

“It’s not always saying a lot, but about saying the right thing,” she said.

Serving as dairy princess, one day she might be in an elementary classroom and the next she is visiting with senior citizens in a nursing home.

“The schools in our area are actually teaching kids about where their food comes from,” she said. “As dairy princess, we can go in there and teach a little lesson as part of that.”

The state pageant required each participant to prepare a speech, skit, radio spot and poster display promoting milk and dairy products. These activities continue to help the dairy promotion team as they represent the dairy industry across the state.

“The best part of being dairy princess is meeting all kinds of people,” Wasson said.

Wasson’s favorite event was participating in the state Junior Holstein Convention. She and state dairy princess Maria Jo Noble and the other alternate princess, Callie Curley, were able to participate in all that the convention had to offer with the other dairy youth. Wasson also competed in the speaking contest and won second place with her speech. She will be competing at the national convention in Indianapolis in July. She also presented her speech at the state FFA convention at Penn State in June.

Wasson will be a senior at State College Area High School where she is a majorette and participates in track. She is a member of FFA where she was elected vice president. Her twin sister also was elected president. Wasson is a member of the Pennsylvania Junior Holstein Association as well as a volunteer for several nonprofit organizations.

Another of Wasson’s mentors is her agriculture teacher and FFA advisor, Paul Heasley.

“I am excited for my senior year,” said Wasson. “One of the things I want to do is have an ag fair at our school so people can see how much agriculture impacts their everyday life,” she said.

“Our FFA chapter is a very good program and organization. We work with the community and participate in the Adopt-a-Highway program,” she said. “We are giving back to the community that gives us so much. Our school respects our program and the kids that are in it.”

“My husband and I are so proud of our girls,” Candace Wasson said. “FFA and the dairy princess program have had a very positive impact on our girls. Mr. Heasley has been able to see that the girls have an interest and desire to succeed and he helps them achieve their goals.”

As Heather Wasson looks to the future, she plans on attending Penn State in agricultural business so that she can be ready to take advantage of the opportunities that come her way.

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