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State Dairy Ambassador Abby Lohman shares experiences

Mar 11th, 2013 | Category: Community

by Jessica Harbert

While speaking in elementary classrooms, young children often ask 18-year-old Abby Lohman, the Washington State Dairy Ambassador, an array of admiring questions, such as where her ball gown is and who is her king. She explains these are not a part of the Dairy Ambassador’s daily life, and instead her time is spent discussing the dairy industry and sharing its importance to both the region and the individual.

State Dairy Ambassador Abby Lohman (left) and Snohomish County Ambassador Erin Peek. COURTESY PHOTO

“Yes, you do wear a crown but it is more than that,” Lohman said.Older students often tell Lohman they remember when the Dairy Ambassador came to their school as a young child, she added.

A 2012 graduate of Burlington-Edison High School, Lohman began her term as ambassador in June and has been traveling around Washington State, including speaking in classrooms and attending farm fairs.

Her favorite experience so far in her time as Dairy Ambassador was attending Dairy Day at the Washington State legislature in Olympia, Lohman said.

“I had the opportunity to speak on the Senate floor,” Lohman said. “It was the highlight of my year. I don’t think people realize how much legislation affects agriculture.”

She grew up on a 200-acre farm near Edison, where her family grows seed crops. Her parents, Annie and Dave, have been farming for 25 years. Lohman grew up showing 4H and dairy animals, and her parents used to raise young livestock, she said. She was previously the Skagit County Dairy Ambassador.

Lohman has plans to attend Oregon State University next fall and study agricultural education. She aspires to teach high school. After completing her year as ambassador, Lohman will receive a scholarship to help with her education.

“It is very unique because I want to be an agriculture teacher and a high school teacher,” Lohman said. “This has confirmed that’s what I want to do.”

As ambassador, Lohman is the “face” of the Dairy Farmers of Washington and also works closely with the Washington State Dairy Women, an organization that is a major supporter of the ambassador program, Tammi Schoenbachler, Lohman’s advisor and coordinator, said. Schoenbachler lives in Stanwood and has been dairy farming for 28 years.

Her training as ambassador has included intensive public relations and media training, as well as public speaking and other skills that are not necessarily taught in school, Lohman said.

In order to be the state dairy ambassador, one must first serve a term as a county ambassador or alternate. All ambassadors have some connection to dairy, Lohman said. Most counties in Washington have an ambassador. Not all states have ambassadors, but those with prominent dairy industries usually do, including Oregon, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The Washington State Dairy Ambassador program began in 1955 and the title was changed from Dairy Princess to Dairy Ambassador in 2003.

For Lohman, a large educational portion of being ambassador is opening student’s eyes to the many opportunities available in the dairy industry aside from production, including teaching, business, law and graphic design to name a few.

“Agriculture is the nation’s biggest employer,” Lohman said. “Less than 2 percent of 23 million jobs are production based in agriculture industry.”

She hopes this information will help keep the agriculture industry relevant in young people’s minds.

Another important aspect of dairy farming is family. Whatcom County is third in production per cow in the country, Lohman said, with majority of the dairy farms being family owned.

“Dairy Farming is a family business,” Lohman said. “Ninety-eight percent of dairy farms in Washington State are family owned and operated.”

Published in the March 2013 issue of Grow Northwest

One Comment to “State Dairy Ambassador Abby Lohman shares experiences”

  1. Trista says:

    Great article on a fabulous, unique part of Washington State agriculture. The potential impact this young lady can have on young and old alike is substantial. The dairy industry and the farmers have a voice through this program and I am proud to see it continue! Great job Abby — you hit the nail on the head when you said that it is more than a tiara and you wear the responsibility well.

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