Two candidates were the center of attention last night (Tuesday) at the annual Yakima Valley Dairy Ambassador program, Kristen Wedam and Emily Hutchins.
Wedam was crowned 2010-11 Yakima Valley Dairy Ambassador and Hutchins earned the honor of serving as her alternate.
Wedam's speech centered on three servings of dairy per day and the multitude of benefits dairy provides individuals and communities.
She began by sharing the nutritional value of dairy products, including eight grams of protein is included in one eight-ounce glass of milk.
Moving on to the economic benefits of the dairy industry, Wedam shared with those gathered, "Yakima County is ranked 10th in the country for dairy production."
She said dairy is the second leading agricultural product in Washington state, providing jobs and economic growth.
"The miracle makers are those who care for the cows," Wedam continued, sharing the dairy industry and the individuals in the dairy industry support WIAA activities and the Yakima Valley Dairy Women provide milk used in home economics classrooms, as well as refreshments at local blood drives.
"Three-a-day is good for the environment," she shared, stating dairy farmers have decreased their carbon footprint and increased production by more than 440 percent since 1944.
"Dairy farmers really care...they support youth, the economy, the environment, the community and health," Wedam stated.
She was asked what's the best kept secret of the dairy industry. Her response was, "The people...the industry's people have supported me my entire life. They support youth and I have a desire to show my appreciation for them as a representative of the industry."
Hutchins was soft-spoken, but provided those gathered with her intent to promote awareness of the positive economic impact dairies have on communities.
She said the industry provides jobs both on and off the dairy. Those jobs include the individual who cleans stalls to the person who works in implement repair.
Her father is a milk truck driver, and Hutchins believes in the positive impact the dairy industry has had on her life.
When asked what she would do to improve the dairy industry, Hutchins said, "I would encourage individuals to drink milk instead of soda and other beverages."
Shortly before naming Wedam as the 2010-11 Yakima Valley Dairy Ambassador, outgoing ambassador Kristyn Mensonides gave a farewell speech, detailing the past year and the many experiences she will take with her.
"I am one of a lucky few who have had the opportunity to serve as dairy ambassador and the year has gone fast," stated Mensonides.
She has visited numerous schools and participated in several community events. She has also had several speaking engagements through the year.
"I have many fond memories," Mensonides shared.
Washington State Dairy Ambassador Melissa Cook also detailed how the ambassador program has helped her become a better speaker. She said she has learned many skills that will benefit her in life as a result of the program.
Bob Golob was also recognized at last night's event. He was named as the Friend of the Industry for his many years as a dairyman and service on both boards and committees that serve the dairy industry.
This year's Yakima Valley Dairy Scholarship winner was named. Hilari Bosma, a Sunnyside Christian High School student, was awarded a $1,000 scholarship, although she was not present for the program.