After placing second in the School of Communication and Information Annual Public Speaking Contest in April, a rising sophomore and former NJ State Dairy Princess Ariel Staffin competed in and won a National Public Speaking Competition. Staffin who was a business major in her freshman year recently spoke with us about her involvement in the dairy industry and her experience in a National Public Speaking Contest.
Where do you think your interest in the dairy industry comes from and how long have you been participating in projects or advocacy surrounding it?
My interest in the dairy industry started through 4-H. My parents wouldn't let my sisters and I have a dog, so my one sister decided to join 4-H to work with animals. She joined the dairy cow club, and I followed in her footsteps a few years later. This is my 11th year working with dairy cows, but it was only in the last few years that I started holding advocacy positions.
You were crowned the New Jersey State Dairy Princess in November 2017, what has the experience been like?
Yes, I was the NJ State Dairy Princess from November 2017 until November 2018. It was an absolutely incredible experience getting to travel around NJ and surrounding states talking to kids and meeting really cool people, all while promoting the dairy industry. I have since passed on my title, but I still look for places to promote the industry whenever I can.
So you just won a National Public Speaking Contest, could you tell me what the contest is about?
The contest in which I just competed was the Prepared Public Speaking Contest at the National Holstein Convention. (A Holstein is the breed of a dairy cow with the traditional black and white markings...yes, they do have conventions for individual breeds of cows!) The convention has a collection of contests, and the Public Speaking contest is one that gives youth members (ages 9 - 21) the opportunity to present on any topic related to the dairy industry. I competed in the senior division of the competition (ages 17-21) which involves presenting an eight to ten-minute speech, with or without visual aids.
Is this your first time participating in the contest and can you tell me more about your experience participating in it?
I have competed in various competitions at this convention for the past 10 years, and I competed in the speech competition for 9 of those 10 years. I placed 1st in the intermediate division in 2014, and then I placed 3rd in the senior division in 2017. The speech that I brought to the competition this year was similar to the speech with which I competed in 2017, but I adjusted it and added things using feedback from past judge's comments. I also had the chance to do a practice run during my public speaking class with Professor Dool, and that was super helpful!
What has winning the contest meant to you?
Winning this competition was absolutely incredible. The topic of my speech was the lease program, which is a program that gives children who do not live on farms hands-on experience working with animals that they would not receive otherwise. Traveling to these conventions every year, many of my fellow competitors live on farms, own their own cows, and have never heard of the lease program. I came from a different background, so having the opportunity to present the lease program and how it started my involvement in the industry to people on the national level was amazing. Public speaking has always been one of my favorite things to do, so winning this prestigious contest was surreal. I have always looked up to many of the members with which I have competed in this contest, and I am honored and blessed to have my name published alongside some other amazing, young industry members.