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LeeAnn Kapanick lives on a 400-acre crop farm and helps raise beef cattle. She said the family has three dairy animals and 30 beef cattle. She’s no stranger to the dairy industry and has been in 4-H since she was 8 years old

SAEGERTOWN — LeeAnn Kapanick listened as the announcer at the Pennsylvania Dairy Princess contest in Harrisburg last week read the names of the first two alternate state princesses. Neither of them was hers.

“I did not think I had a chance — and then they called my name,” said the shocked 17-year-old who became the first state dairy princess from Crawford County in at least 50 years — if ever.

“It was an awesome experience,” she said.

The competition was a three-day event, which included speeches and skits from each of the 26 contestants. Judging was based on public speaking skills, knowledge of the dairy industry, poise and personality. Each contestant had to prepare a speech and skit promoting milk and dairy products and had a personal interview with a panel of four judges. Both were limited to a span of three to five minutes each.

Kapanick, daughter of John and Stephanie Kapanick, lives on a 400-acre crop farm and raises beef cattle. She said the family has three dairy animals and 30 beef cattle.

She’s no stranger to the dairy industry and has been in 4-H since she was 8 years old. She credits 4-H for helping develop many skills. “It is a good character builder,” she said, noting members learn to take responsibility for their animals.

“A lot (of members) in 4-H don’t have much farm background, but they can borrow (animals) from others,” she said.

For her skit promoting milk, Kapanick chose a parrot named Joe Sorrow —patterned after Capt. Joe Sparrow in the “Pirate of the Caribbean.” The captain’s crew were milk deficient creatures and after they began consuming milk products, they got healthier.

She said she and her mother talked about what to do for a skit and her mother came up with the idea and they adopted it. “A pirate is kind of cool,” she said of their thoughts about how to present the message in a unique way.

It was the second time she had performed the skit and speech. The first time was earlier this year when she was named the Crawford County Dairy Princess after performing it for the local competition.

As state dairy princess, Kapanick will travel throughout Pennsylvania with the two alternates — Nicole Wasson of Center County and Abigail Trotter of Lawrence County.

Promoting dairy is important, she said, explaining that Pennsylvania has 550,000 cows and 8,200 dairy farmers. “In Crawford County, it is a large economic factor,” she said.

One thing she loves about dairy farmers is “the camaraderie they have. They are there to help and giving a lending hand.”

Although her role will be to promote dairy farming and its products to the general public, Kapanick has added another feature to her reign. “I want to show the dairy farmers what dairy princesses actually do,” she said. “A lot of farmers don’t get the chance to get out and see what we do. They don’t understand. I would like to give farmers an awareness of how we promote their products,” she explained.

Her activities will include riding in parades and distributing various dairy products to the public at special events — be it a stand at a grocery store or a trip to a school or a local business.

In addition to the crown, she said she received a scholarship and the “title of dairy princess. It’s a great experience and helps build public speaking (skills) and self confidence.”

Remembering the first time she was to speak before a large group of people, “I didn’t think I could do it.”

Now, she has mastered the skill of not only public speaking, but doing a skit with a message and with poise. “I’m just so excited,” she said, noting it is an “awesome feeling” to be called the Pennsylvania Dairy Princess.

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