BERNVILLE, Pa. — Zipping out from a line of apple trees in a John Deere Gator is Pennsylvania’s first alternate dairy princess, Samantha Haag. With her megawatt smile and a princess wave, she welcomes everyone into her world, where she has multiple roles, including wearing a crown and sash.
Today, she stays involved with the dairy industry while pursuing her other passions.
Haag has a variety of jobs. She is Way-Har Farms’ wholesale and delivery manager, Leesport Farmers Market’s support staff member, a seasonal worker for Centerport Flower Shop, and also works on her family’s orchard.
“I just like to help everyone out,” Haag said of her agriculturally diverse roles.
Haag, 21, has been involved with the dairy royalty program for most of her life. At 7 years old, she was Berks County’s little miss and served as a dairy ambassador until being crowned the Berks County dairy princess.
Haag and her parents moved off the farm when her older brother, Michael, took over the operation. While she may not milk cows every day, she steps in to help with milking and caring for calves when her brother’s family goes on vacation.
Haag’s schedule takes her to the Way-Har Farms store in Bernville three times a week. On Mondays, she drives a milk delivery route, traveling to Allentown and Bethlehem. Her duties also include making phone calls to wholesale customers, assisting in ice cream making, and milk processing. On Wednesdays, she is at Leesport Farmers Market parking cars at 4:30 a.m. Haag also handles the maintenance of the market grounds — setting up tables in the banquet halls, picking up garbage and supporting the owner of the grounds, Woody Weist, along with doing other portions of the farmers market and flea market.
“My favorite of it all, is going out and talking to people,” she said.
When Haag isn’t on the road for dairy promotion, she spends the rest of her week on her maternal grandfather’s 1,000-tree orchard. The orchard produces plums, nectarines, apricots, pears, Asian pears, apples, peaches and blueberries. Being in the orchard early, as the sun rises into the sky, is Haag’s favorite part of her day.
Together, her mother, older sister, aunt and cousin are working on making the orchard into a limited liability company, called Moyer’s Fruits and Treasures.
“I just turned 21 and I am going to be a business owner. It’s kind of scary,” Haag said.
Her role on the orchard is evolving. She currently does the pruning, paints trees with insecticide, sprays, picks fruit and sells fruit at farm market stands.
She credits her production skill set to experiences learned from her grandfather as well as horticulture and landscape training from Berks Career and Technology Center.
Her future plans include making jams and jellies to sell once her family converts an unused shed into a commercial-grade kitchen. She also sees herself possibly hosting cooking workshops one day.
“I love teaching, I don’t ever want to be a teacher, but I love teaching,” Haag said. “That’s why classrooms are one of my favorites, because I get to go in and talk to all the kids and teach them.”
Being able to see that “lightbulb moment” in students while educating them about the dairy industry is what Haag has valued the most during her reign as a state alternate dairy princess.
In classrooms, Haag often performs a skit called “Dr. Moolittle.” She plays the role of a veterinarian and has a “conversation” with a cow, going through a cow-care checklist and asking a cow puppet questions about water and feed intake as well as cleanliness. She also has her classroom students make a total mix ration or, as she calls it, “cow salad.” She explains to them that dairy farmers give cows a nutritionally balanced diet. She then treats the students with a dairy product, usually cheese or chocolate milk.
“Just seeing the wheels (turn) and everything click” has been fulfilling to her, she said.
Even after Haag has passed the crown on to her successor and is spending more time working with fruit trees, she said she “will always be a promoter, even without a crown on my head.”