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Thanks for the pep talk, Dad

Progressive Dairyman Editor Emily Caldwell Published on 11 June 2014

This June marks 10 years since I began my year as a county dairy princess. I’m struggling with the fact that I’m now old enough to remember something that happened a decade ago.

I think back to my year as dairy princess as a time I bonded with my dad. I think many other farmers’ daughters who have served in promotion would agree that giving all of those speeches and milk toasts about hard-working dairy farmers provides a new sense of pride and appreciation for what their own families do.

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I pictured my dad every time I talked about how much passion farmers have for the cows and the land.

My year as dairy princess also makes me think of a special father-daughter talk that Dad had with me early into my reign.

I was getting ready for the state pageant, where I’d be competing with the other county princesses for the state title. I remember Dad sat me down in a chair on the front porch after the evening milking, and he said, “Em, if you don’t win a state title, it’s really important for you to not cry on stage.”

Though I can tell it makes him cringe to hear his words repeated back, this is one of my favorite stories to tell about him. (As a side note, Dad emphasizes that he never believed I couldn’t do well. He just wanted me to be prepared.)

His “pep talk” only fueled my eagerness to get to the pageant and do the best I could. I bombed my impromptu question when I was selected as one of the seven finalists, but I loved my time at pageant.

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I was proud of what I had accomplished, and, more importantly, I went on to have a great year as county princess and made many new friendships and connections that have led me here.

And luckily for me, the talks didn’t stop after I was done as princess.

“Have fun at Penn State,” he told me as we were loading my suitcases for the drive to State College my freshman year. “If you flunk out from too much fun, remember the local Christian college is six miles from home.”

Dad gave similar speeches at other pivotal life moments, all of which encouraged me to prove him wrong and make him proud of me in spite of his doubts. I’m guessing that was his intention all along.

His tough love approach gave me the fight I needed, and it made the brief but frequent “atta girl” moments from him that much more memorable. My princess days may be done, but Dad’s insistence on being strong and proud of the person he and Mom raised me to be continues to stick with me.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Keep the pep talks coming! PD

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  • Emily Caldwell

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