It was recently announced that the Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program (PDPP) awarded scholarships to two Penn State students for their interest in dairy food product innovation and marketing.
“These scholarships are an investment in the future of the dairy industry,” said PDPP Chair Jeff Raney, a dairy farmer from Adamsville, PA. “We were impressed with the innovative dairy students who applied and are interested in meeting the ever-changing demands of consumers that will help us continue to move the industry forward.”
Alexandra Diamond of Tyrone, PA, was awarded the $1,500 PA Dairy Innovation Scholarship that is provided to the Department of Food Science at the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences each autumn. A sophomore studying food science, Diamond was selected because of her interest in food product development.
Diamond’s dad works for Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, and in the past she has attended some meetings with him and participated in outreach to Keystone State students. Her grandparents own a dairy farm in Fayette Co. and her uncles still work on farm.
“I grew up around that dairy culture, and I have fond memories of growing up and going to farms and eating ice cream and attending events,” she said.
She applied for the Dairy Innovation Scholarship because while she was growing up, she loved watching the Food Network – “but the more I looked into being professional chef, the less I liked it,” Diamond said. “In 10th grade, through the Center for Dairy Excellence, I went to program at Penn State called ‘A Taste of Food Science,’ and I thought I could see myself doing this for the rest of my life. It incorporates food, science and agriculture.”
Diamond added that since Penn State is known for its ice cream, she has a goal of working in the university’s pilot plant and creamery.
Katelyn Taylor of Allenwood, PA, received the $3,000 PDPP Scholarship which is awarded to a student with an interest in dairy product marketing. A junior at Penn State, she is majoring in ag science with a minor in animal science and leadership and development with the intent to work within schools to promote fluid milk consumption among students to build life-long consumers.
On her family’s farm, South Creek Acres, they have three broiler chicken houses, a 40-head cow-calf Angus herd and crop farm 800 acres. Taylor is the fourth generation on the farm.
“It’s really enjoyable to work every day with people who are also passionate about it,” she said of the ag industry. “We’re brought up in it and passionate about it. Whatever opportunity comes your way, every day has something new and interesting.”
Taylor started her college career as an animal science major, with a focus on animals, but switched to ag science to better understand all aspects of agriculture. “There are so many different components of agriculture – it makes you want to learn more,” she said.
Having done dairy promotion since she was 8, Taylor was also a Dairy Princess in 2020-21. “We haven’t milked on our farm in 60 years, but I understand importance of it,” she said of dairy.
One of her goals is about the future of A2A2 products and better explaining the designation to consumers – and making important connections. She said one of the silver linings of the pandemic was when grocery store shelves were becoming empty and people started to question where their food comes from. “It makes for a great talking point,” she said.
To earn the scholarships, both Diamond and Taylor had to maintain 3.0 GPAs, have letters of recommendation and have experience in the dairy industry or in marketing dairy foods as part of their work.
Diamond said her goal, post-graduation, is one her physics teacher described as her version of becoming an NFL quarterback – she hopes to work with Disney in their food development program. Taylor, who is currently interning at CNH Industrial in product marketing, and who spent last summer as on-farm intern through a Center for Dairy Excellence program, wants to see what feels best for her before she makes any career decisions.
They also shared these words of wisdom for other youth in the ag industry: “If it’s something you love a lot, go for it, despite what others might tell you,” Diamond said.
“Continue to take every opportunity you’re given, because you never know who you’re going to meet,” Taylor added.
For more information about American Dairy Association North East scholarship opportunities, visit AmericanDairy.com and click on “Dairy Farms.”
by Courtney Llewellyn