CENTRAL COAST — Ellie Dyt knows a lot more about the California dairy industry than most 17-year-old high schoolers.
Dyt was raised on a dairy farm her whole life in the small town of Crows Landing, home to thousands of dairy cows, gaining first-hand experience by working there with her three sisters. She is fourth generation in the industry — her great-grandparents farmed in The Netherlands before immigrating to California.
All of this and more, she says, is why she is so excited and honored to be chosen as this year’s District 4 Dairy Princess by the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB).
“It’s something I’ve always looked up to my whole life,” Dyt said. “It’s been a goal. When I was little, it was about the crown, but now it’s different. It’s a chance to really represent the industry in a great way.”
CMAB’s Dairy Princess Program aims to provide young women with the opportunity to be ambassadors for the state’s dairy industry. Princesses and alternates are expected to visit schools, march in parades, attend state and county fairs and more.
Local contests begin every April, with winners announced in early summer. Participants are judged on speaking ability, education, dairy background, poise, and personality.
Dyt was crowned June 16 at a special event at the Van Foeken Event Barn in Hilmar, Calif. She and alternate Nicole Bettencourt will represent the state’s District 4, which includes Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Mariposa, Merced, Monterey, Sacramento, San Benito, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Yolo counties.
Dyt will be a senior at Ripon Christian High School this fall, and has plans to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice. She is an active member of her school’s FFA chapter, currently serving as Vice President. She is on Honor Roll and a Southern League Scholar Athlete, among other titles.
After being selected, all of the Princesses and Alternates participate in an orientation and training in Turlock. Dyt said that this year, they were given presentation coaching, business and dinner etiquette training, and tips to hone their communication skills. They also toured the state Nutri Milk facility.
“We went through a four-day training together,” Dyt said. “I really enjoyed it. We all bonded, learned about each other’s backgrounds.”
They also learned about social media managing—something Dyt said she is eager to do. She recently took over the official Dairy Princess accounts from last year’s ambassador, and hopes to be a positive figure on the platform.
“I think it’s a great opportunity, since social media is something that’s really big these days,” she said. “I hope to develop it into my own before passing it onto the next. I’m really excited to grow that presence, be a positive light. … Go against what people might think about social media.”
But the most exciting part of her new job? School visits, she says.
“I’m really looking forward to the school visits,” Dyt said. “You are able to teach the next generation about the dairy industry, California’s specifically, to kids who might not have been raised in the ag industry. I’m really excited for that part of it.”
Bettencourt, crowned 1st Alternate Dairy Princess, will be a senior at Aptos High School in Aptos this fall. She is the president of her school’s Portuguese Club, and active in Speech and Debate and Mock Trial Teams. She serves as Queen for the Portuguese Community of Watsonville, and is publishing a history project on Portuguese agricultural settlers, and has completed a research project and annotated bibliography on Portuguese dairy farms in the Central Valley.
She runs her own website on California Portuguese Youth Cultural Heritage and Studies and is active in her church, Our Lady of Help of Christians, and at Dancenter as a dance teacher and performer.
Bettencourt plans to attend Stanford University next year to pursue degrees in Portuguese studies and environmental studies.
For information on the Dairy Princess Program and the California Milk Advisory Board, visit realcaliforniamilk.com.