As an eleventh grader, Spring Vasey of Lincoln, DE has taken on several responsibilities that many her age have simply not experienced. At 17, Spring helps her family breed Icelandic sheep, raise show pigs for the Delaware State Fair and take care of laying hens. Out of all her daily duties, she enjoys milking cows and feeding calves at G & S Dairy Farm the most.
“There’s never a dull moment here,” said Spring. “ In fact, we are in the middle of our lambing season, and have added several bouncing lambs to our farm this week.”
Through the challenges in her life, it has been these responsibilities that have allowed her to work hard and be successful. After her sister Brooke died when she was in the forth grade, she admits that she became angry. Understandable for any individual coping with a tragic life event, Spring “chose not to talk to anyone or do anything.” It was the intervention of her mother Jody entering Spring into Cow Camp that helped Spring to find strength.
“…I didn’t have a clue about farm animals. That first day of camp, I was given a heifer to care for, and at first I thought my heifer was a boy. I remember her being so heavy and so hard to walk. Boy, did I learn a lot that day,” said Spring as she reflected on the experience. “I was out of my comfort zone, but that day at Busker Farms changed me forever. I had a new love, that I could get lost in, and I didn’t mind talking to the cows.”
Spring traveled to Wisconsin last September, for the National Dairy Conference and had an “enlightening experience” as she had the opportunity to meet and listen to different individuals representing the dairy industry, as they spoke about how their own personal lives had changed by choosing dairy. This experience and her love of dairy led Spring to compete for the title of 2016 Delaware Dairy Princess this past month as she brought home the crown.
Spring decided to compete for the title of Dairy Princess for many reason including one memory she has of helping a young girl while at 4-H Cow Camp in 2014. Helping a frustrated little girl, whose heifer would not walk, Spring encouraged her to not give up. Telling the girl that she could do it, and that the two of them were going to try again together, Spring grabbed the cow’s halter, and the little girl held the rope. They walked the heifer around and around the ring. The girl was a bit shaky, but finally, she walked with confidence.
“Once we tied her heifer up, she said she was so happy that her cow finally liked her,” said Spring. “She said she couldn’t wait to do it again, she thanked me, and ran off. I remember feeling that if I could help this little girl, perhaps one day she’ll grow to help others as well. By being the dairy princess, I would have more of a platform to encourage our 4-H teens to cater to the smaller kids.” Spring is also encouraged that as Dairy Princess, she will be able to develop and grow in several areas including public speaking, learning more about the dairy industry and traveling to meet people that she would have never met before.
Affiliated with the Mid-Atlantic Dairy, her duties will include supporting the dairy industry by making personal appearances to promote dairy products, and to be the industry’s official representative, upon invitation, at meetings, conventions and promotional activities. Spring will be attending dairy shows, agricultural events, the Delaware State Fair and the Milk Run in May.
While being the Dairy Princess, Spring hopes to accomplish many things. “I plan to spread the good word about family owned dairy farms. I hope to educate others about the importance of dairy and the realistic treatment of cows,” she said. “I plan to encourage everyone to use dairy- daily- like real butter, and encourage our local restaurants to do the same.”
Overall Spring believes the most important way that she can impact the dairy industry, is by talking with children. Sharing her own cow stories with children, and showing them her love for cows, she hopes to lead and encourage them to attend 4-H Cow Camp. At Cow Camp, she can assist these children, giving them the confidence and skills, while “being their biggest cheerleader.”
“These same children may be our future dairy farmers,” she said “It is important to grow these dairy farmers at an early age.”