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Marion County Dairy Princess Taysha Veeman is among 3 finalists vying to represent the dairy industry throughout the state.

COURTESY OF OREGON DAIRY WOMEN  - Oregon dairy princesses and ambassadors: Front left to right: 2019 First Alternate Natalie Berry and 2019 Oregon Dairy Princess-Ambassador Emily HenryFront left to right: 2019 First Alternate Natalie Berry and 2019 Oregon Dairy Princess-Ambassador Emily Henry. Back left to right, 2020 Finalists Araya Wilks, Tillamook; County; Taysha Veeman, Marion County; Jaime Evers, Klamath County.  Back left to right, 2020 Finalists Araya Wilks, Tillamook County; Taysha Veeman, Marion County and Jaime Evers, Klamath County Between St. Paul and San Luis Obispo, adding in a significant stop in Salem, Taysha Veeman will be one busy woman during the first month of 2020.

A 2019 graduate from St. Paul, Taysha enrolled at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo this past fall. Following the winter break, she will be heading back to classes per usual. But a lifelong dream and goal will bring her back to the Willamette Valley shortly after winter term begins.

For the past year as the Marion County Dairy Princess, Taysha has been busy representing the county while promoting dairy products, educating the public about nutrition and enlightening her community about life on a dairy farm at local schools, fairs and events. COURTESY OF OREGON DAIRY WOMEN  - Taysha Veeman

Oregon Dairy Women spokeswoman Jessica Jansen noted that 2019 Oregon Dairy Princess Emily Henry and First Alternate Natalie Berry will pass on their titles during the ODM's 61st annual Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador Coronation Banquet, Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Salem Convention Center.

Taysha will arrive with the other contestants and judges Friday morning for a full two days of interviews, speeches and prepared commercials promoting dairy products. The winner will be crowned at the conclusion of Saturday's banquet.

She wouldn't miss it for the world.

"As a little girl, my family would attend nearly every state and our county's dairy princess contests. I watched as these beautiful women would stand on stage and share their passion for the dairy industry with others," Taysha said. "I knew that this is what I wanted to do someday, be one of the princesses."

While she is thoroughly enjoying her freshman year in San Luis Obispo – especially the weather – Taysha will fly back to see her dairy princess duties through. She joins Araya Wilks of Tillamook County and Jaime Evers of Klamath County as state finalists.

Dairy princess duties go much farther and deeper than pageants.

"The Oregon Dairy Princess program has provided six decades of promotion for the Oregon dairy industry. Our dairy princess ambassadors represent Oregon's 200 farm families including my family's farm," said Oregon Dairy Women President Becky Heimerl of Tillamook.

"Princess ambassadors provide Oregon students and the public with an understanding of dairy farming and how dairy foods can be a part of a healthy diet," she added. "Most Oregonians are at least two or three generations removed from the farm. Our hope is that this program offers people a connection to dairy farming and the ability to learn more about this important Oregon industry."

Taysha fits that task to a t.

The daughter of Rod and Toni Veeman, Taysha has seen the ins and outs of Veeman Dairy, LLC pretty much since she could open her eyes. "Before I could even walk dad strapped in the little carrier and he'd taking out in the field," Taysha reminisced. "Since I was 5, I would go out to help (in the dairy). I couldn't do much at that age… When I got older, I started helping my mom."

When she came home from San Luis Obispo for the holiday break, Toni wanted to deploy her daughter's experience, as Veeman is currently milking about 300 cows.

"As soon as I got home, my mom said, 'glad you are home so I can put you to work,'" Taysha laughed.

There are always chores that need tending when working in agriculture, and the dairy industry is no exception. There is a work ethic and bit of character building that comes with it. In Taysha's case, there is also some life direction, and the pageant will be a part of how she pursues her goals. "The young women that participate in our program gain extensive personal and professional development opportunities and go on to successful careers in education, healthcare, farming and more," Becky noted. "Participants in the dairy ambassador program are also provided college scholarships to continue their education."

At Cal Poly Taysha's studying agriculture and animal science. It's not brand new to her: in addtion to running track and cross country in high school, she was active in 4-H and FFA, showing dairy and beef cattle at the Marion County Fair. She said her college, while it doesn't have a veterinary medicine program, does have a lot of hands-on opportunities working with animals.

"They do enterprise classes, which count as units but not official classes," Taysha said. "You can go out to a dairy and help cows and calving. The have different ones (enterprise classes) for different species, too."

Early winter term will see some significant travel, and that travel will tie in something she's envisioned all her life.

"I'll be juggling the pageant and school. I will be able to do some different events when I come back home for holidays. Then I will go back to school and fly back for contest then go back up so return to school," Taysha mused.

"It's definitely a challenge working with school. But it's what I've always wanted to do, so I'm making it work," she added. "Ever since I can remember going to county and state coronation for the dairy princess, I thought it was so cool that they were up there promoting the dairy industry -- and that's what I want to do because I love our cows."

The Pageant

What: Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador Coronation Banquet

When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18

Where: Salem Convention Center, 201 Liberty St. SE

Cost: $50

Tickets can be ordered prior to January 6, from the Oregon Dairy Women by visiting oregondairywomen.com/events. No tickets will be sold at the door.

Oregon Dairy Women

Oregon Dairy Women is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization with the main objective to promote the dairy industry. The ODW mission is to promote greater use of all dairy products through outreach and educational programs.

 

Since 1959, the Oregon Dairy Women's Dairy Princess Ambassador Program has served as the premier advocate for the Oregon Dairy Industry in collaboration with the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association and the Oregon Dairy Nutrition Council. The ODW award scholarships, and provides financial support to 4-H and FFA programs, Agriculture in the Classroom, Ag Fest, Summer Ag Institute, Adopt-a-Farmer and judging teams.


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