Five South Dakota State University students were recently selected to serve as South Dakota Dairy Ambassadors.
"The South Dakota Dairy Ambassador Program is designed to build future dairy champions to promote the dairy community and give consumers an excellent dairy experience," said Tracey Erickson, program coordinator and SDSU Extension Dairy Field Specialist.
The program is a collaborative effort of Midwest Dairy Association and SDSU Extension.
The five students selected to serve include: Sanne De Bruijn, Pollock; Dennisen Nelson, Lonsdale, Minnesota; Jenna Van Wyk, Orange City, Iowa; Angel Kasper, Owatonna, Minnesota and Katelyn Groetesch, Albany, Minnesota.
During the year, South Dakota Dairy Ambassadors will participate in consumer communication training. They will share their knowledge of and passion for dairy with students and consumers through programs and events including: the Sioux Empire Fair, Dairy Days on various Farms, Dairy Fest, Ag Day at the Pavilion and the South Dakota State Fair.
The program runs from January 1 through December 31. Upon completion of the program, the South Dakota Dairy Ambassadors will receive a scholarship of up to $1,000.
More about the 2018 South Dakota Dairy Ambassadors
Sanne De Bruijn, from Pollock, is a sophomore pursuing degrees in Dairy Production and Dairy Manufacturing with a minor in Food Safety.
Her background in the dairy industry is very diverse. She and her family are originally from the Netherlands and have also lived and operated dairy farms in New Zealand, Ohio, Wisconsin and plan to operate a dairy in South Dakota.
"The dairy industry is where my passion lies," De Bruijn said. "I am incredibly excited to use this platform to not only share my experiences, but to create a better understanding for the consumer as to why we dairy farm."
She added. "My priority is to make the connection that when we care for the animals, the animals care for us. I am excited to see what our enthusiastic group of ambassadors can accomplish in this upcoming year and how we can make a difference in dairy."
Dennisen Nelson is from Lonsdale, Minnesota. Nelson is majoring in Dairy Production and Animal Science with a minor in Ag Business.
Nelson grew up on a small family dairy milking 70 Jersey cows. Throughout his life, Nelson has been involved with dairy judging, quiz bowl and other opportunities that have expanded his knowledge of the industry.
"Being a South Dakota Diary Ambassador is important because a large number of consumers have little idea of where their food comes from," Nelson said. "When they look for that information I want them to hear my story, and share in my passion for dairy."
Jenna Van Wyk is a sophomore majoring in Dairy Production with a minor in Ag Business. Van Wyk grew up near Orange City, Iowa and has been involved in the dairy industry her whole life.
"I hope this experience provides me with the skills I need to communicate with professionals in the industry and the general public," Van Wyk said.
Angel Kasper is from Owatonna, Minnesota. She is pursuing degrees in Agricultural Leadership and Speech Communications.
Kasper grew up on a beef and cropping operation, and became involved with dairy when she started working on her uncle's dairy farm.
"Through this program I hope to gain knowledge about the dairy industry while furthering my communication skills," Kasper said. "As an ambassador I want to work on connecting with consumers and work on closing the gap from farm to table."
Katelyn Groetesch is from Albany, Minnesota. She is pursuing degrees in Animal Science and Dairy Production with an Ag Business minor.
Groetesch grew up on a small dairy farm in central Minnesota where she discovered her passion for dairy. When her family put in robotic milkers, she felt the need to further her dairy knowledge and enrolled at SDSU.
"As a dairy ambassador, my goal is to effectively communicate to consumers, share with them my passion for dairy, and be their connection to agriculture," Groetesch said.