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March 12, 2007

Purdue Extension searches for dairy youth ambassadors

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A search for the first Indiana Dairy Youth Ambassadors to promote the state's dairy industry is under way.

The program is being jointly sponsored by Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, the Indiana Professional Dairy Producers and Elanco Animal Health.

Two students will be chosen to serve as ambassadors for one full year. The senior representative will be a college student under the age of 22, while high school students are encouraged to apply to be the junior ambassador. The senior ambassador will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship, and the junior will receive $500 towards the purchase of a dairy animal.

"The program gives the dairy industry other voices and provides opportunities for youth to become involved," said Kelly Easterday, Purdue Extension educator in Kosciusko County. "Involvement isn't limited to youth strictly interested in dairy production, but for all who would like to learn more about the industry."

In addition to the scholarships, ambassadors will receive networking and educational opportunities to encourage their involvement in the industry. The ambassadors will have the opportunity to travel to dairy events around the state and help plan the 2008 Indiana Dairy Youth Conference

The application process involves submission of written materials by April 5, as well as an in-person interview at the 2007 Indiana Dairy Youth Conference on April 21. Once selected, ambassadors will have all travel expenses up to $500 reimbursed by the conference committee.

"This is an excellent opportunity for youth to get involved while promoting Indiana's very diverse dairy industry," said dairy Extension specialist Mike Schutz. "The ambassador program should allow us to capture the interest of young leaders and develop advocates for the dairy industry of the future."

The Indiana ambassador program was modeled after a similar program in Michigan, Easterday said.

"We thought this was a wonderful program and something that we could implement in Indiana with the current expansion of our own dairy industry," she said. "The Michigan ambassadors met people from different facets of the industry and were involved with many networking and leadership opportunities. Because of connections made as ambassadors, two even traveled abroad to learn about foreign dairy markets."

Additional information and application forms are available online at http://www.ces.purdue.edu/Kosciusko/IDA07.htm. Anyone with additional questions should contact Easterday at (888) EXT-INFO.

Writer: Becki Francis, (765) 494-8402, rfrancis@purdue.edu

Sources: Kelly Easterday, (574) 372-2340, keasterday@purdue.edu

Mike Schutz, (765) 494-9478, mschutz@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes, forbes@purdue.edu
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