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Centre County ag student milks Farm Show experience as Pa. dairy princess

adrey@centredaily.com

Halee Wasson comes from a very royal family.

The State College woman appears fairytale perfect from her golden blonde hair to her big bright smile, but it’s the tiara that really gives it away with those towering curlicues of glittering rhinestones.

It’s a family resemblance, right down to the satin sash.

Halee is the youngest of six daughters who grew up on their family’s dairy farm. Each of them served as Centre County’s Dairy Princess.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Halee is spending the week in Harrisburg at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, promoting the state’s milk, cheese, butter and other products as the Pennsylvania Dairy Princess.

She is the fourth Wasson girl to serve as state royalty. Nicole was the first in 2008-2009, when she was alternate princess. Krystal was princess a year later. Halee’s twin, Heather, was alternate princess in 2012-2013.

“There was a lot of pressure there,” Halee said with a laugh.

But farming is in her blood as much as sparkly crowns. The Wasson Farm is a fifth generation family legacy.

“It’s been in our family since 1922,” she said.

Today, the farm has 40 head of cattle. There have been more sometimes, but that is all they can handle right now, Halee said, as they also run a seasonal produce market and do agricultural tourism.

A Penn State junior majoring in agriculture and extension education, Halee hopes to one day hold her dream job, teaching in a high school and serving as an FFA adviser to foster the same kind of love of farming she learned at home. The Farm Show is giving her a taste of that.

“It’s grown me as an educator and a communicator. That’s what we need in this industry,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know where their food comes from. When people know it’s a real family, a real livelihood.”

Right now, she is educating people attending the Farm Show about the Fill a Glass with Hope campaign.

The Pennsylvania Dairymen’s ever-popular milkshakes — which Halee was spotted sipping — are a big draw at the event. The campaign is encouraging people to snap a picture with their creamy treat and share it on social media with the tag #Shakes4Hope. Every hashtag nets a dollar donation to the campaign.

“Every dollar donated goes to the food bank, to get milk into the food banks because it’s the most requested but least donated. That’s one of the movements that I like,” she said.

On Saturday, Halee will be participating in the celebrity cow-milking contest alongside people like state Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding. She also had the honor of being one of the few people allowed inside the refrigerated display case where the 1,000-pound butter sculpture is kept.

So being Dairy Princess is pretty great. What about the event?

“I would encourage anyone to come down to the Farm Show,” she said. “There is nothing like a Pa. dairy milkshake.”

And don’t forget to hashtag it. That’s a royal decree.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

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