Farms bureau win national ag award

Miami County bureau recognized for cow exhibit

By Melanie Yingst -

MIAMI COUNTY — Miami County Farm Bureau is the proud owner of a prize-winning cow — one that requires no food, water or hay.

Miami County Farm Bureau was recognized as one of nine local county farm bureaus that partnered together to purchase “Elsa,” the organizations’ fiberglass milking cow. The larger-than-life cow displays the farm bureau’s “Life of a Cow” program and won national recognition from the American Farm Bureau Federation for education and ag promotion last week.

Miami County Farm Bureau executive director Mandy Havenar said Elsa’s exhibit connects the consumer to the cow by teaching how milk is produced and winds up in a jug on the grocery shelves.

“It is a fun experience when you have a child that finally makes the connection between a cow and milk,” Havenar said. “We love hearing people talk about Elsa. For a lot of the people, this is the first time they get to experience what it would be like to milk a cow. The most common thing is that milking a cow by hand is hard work.”

Elsa has visited more than 60 events in 18 months and has helped both dispel food myths and teach young and old alike about their food.

Havenar said the organizations rented a similar cow from a cheese distributor from Wayne County two years ago. The exhibit was such a success, Havenar asked each of the nine counties to join together to purchase Elsa to visit local fairs, festivals and farm tours to promote agriculture.

Havenar said Elsa’s popularity has been such a hit with the public that Elsa may soon have an “Anna” to help share the story of sustainable farming in the future.

“With as much use as Elsa gets, there is always the possibility of adding another cow,” she said.

The group of farm bureaus will receive a $2,250 stipend to use toward travel and exhibition costs at American Farm Bureau’s annual convention, where they will display their programs during the IDEAg Trade Show in Orlando, Fla. The winners also will participate in Ohio Farm Bureau’s Community Showcase during its annual meeting in December.

Havenar said Elsa will not make the trip to Orlando, but instead stay home in Ohio to rest up for the already growing list of appearances she will make in 2016, including her owners’ eight county fairs.

“This was Elsa second summer tour and she goes to fairs, FFA Days, Festivals and Farm Tours,” Havenar said. “She is scheduled for the eight fairs, and she also will be at several FFA Days in the spring. We hope to get her to more Farmers Markets this year. She also is available to rent for people that might want her at an event.”

How did the farm bureaus come up with Elsa’s name? Havenar shared how the movie “Frozen” was a big hit at the time of Elsa’s purchase, which helped her name stick.

“When we got her, ‘Frozen’ had just come out and one of the Farm Bureau’s office staff’s children kept calling her Elsa, so it just stuck. Little girls love to find out her name is Elsa,” she shared.

Elsa was made by Fiber Stock from Buffalo, Minn. The Miami East FFA helped make a rolling base for the display. Elsa also is transported from farm to fair on a custom built Eby Aluminum utility trailer sponsored by Eby Trailers.

Miami County bureau recognized for cow exhibit

By Melanie Yingst

Reach Melanie Yingst or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews

Reach Melanie Yingst or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews