Worcester native chosen as dairy ambassador

Feb. 23—A junior at Worcester Central School was named the 2023-2024 New York State Dairy Association first associate ambassador during a ceremony Tuesday, Feb. 21.

"There's a video," Elyza Schoeberl said. "You can see the genuine shock on my face. There were a lot of strong girls in the competition. To be named first associate is an honor."

Schoeberl, who is the Otsego County Dairy Ambassador, said the competition had five parts, including an interview with the judges, a knowledge test, a written communication test and giving a speech about a topic of the contestant's choosing. She said her speech topic was "A World without Dairy."

"After all of that, the winners in each category are asked an impromptu question on the spot to answer," she said. The judges then confer and the winners are announced, she said.

According to a media release from the American Dairy Association North East, Competition judges were: Anna Richards, CEO and founder of 2020 Consulting LLC of Skaneateles; Brittany Snyder of the Dairy Excellence Foundation of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and Gail Yeiser, retired from University of Maryland relations in Arnold, Maryland.

Arianna Aman from Tioga County was named the 2023-2024 New York State Dairy Ambassador, and Isabella Esposito from Onondaga County was selected as second associate ambassador, the release said.

As New York State Dairy Ambassador, Aman will serve as a spokesperson and advocate for dairy farmers by attending special events "to engage with and educate consumers on the nutritional benefits of milk and dairy foods, how farmers care for their cows and their land in order to produce a sustainable product, and the importance of the dairy industry to the New York state economy," the release said. Aman will also receive a $1,200 scholarship and an internship opportunity with American Dairy Association North East.

Schoeberl, who received a $700 scholarship, and Esposito, who received a $500 scholarship, will assist Aman with training, appearances and other duties. Schoeberl said their first appearance will be at the state boy's basketball championship in Glens Falls where they will give out free samples of chocolate milk and promote the "Refuel with Chocolate Milk" program.

Schoeberl said both her parents grew up on dairy farms that went out of business before she was born, but her best friend, Evelyn Kersmanc, lives on a dairy farm. She said she also owns two dairy cows, and a third is on its way. She said a pregnant one is kept at her friend's farm, while the other is kept at her house.

"I wanted to give back to the dairy industry, which has given me so much," she said about running for Otsego County Dairy Ambassador. "I really like being able to talk to people about the dairy industry and promoting dairy products. There are often times people don't understand the industry, so I explain it to them."

She said she was in favor of Wednesday's announcement by the Federal Drug Administration about labeling plant-based milks. According to an Associated Press article, the FDA issued draft rules that call for voluntary extra nutrition labels that note when the drinks have lower levels of nutrients than dairy milk, such as calcium, magnesium or vitamin D. "All the nutrients in normal milk so far surpass artificially made milks," she said.

In addition to promoting dairy, Schoeberl said she is a three-sport athlete at WCS, president of the National Honor Society, a member of Students Against Destructive Decisions, the science club and envirothon team and on the student council.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221.