Selina Horst makes history as first Pennsylvania Dairy Princess from Franklin County

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

Franklin County has impressive dairy statistics.

In Pennsylvania, it’s held the No. 2 spot behind Lancaster County for years. The most recent Census of Agriculture, done in 2017, found Franklin County had 427 dairy farms and more than 51,000 cows with more than $1.2 billion in economic impact.

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A new number was added to the list Sept. 24 as Selina Horst of Marion became the first Pennsylvania Dairy Princess from Franklin County when she was selected from a field of 22 at the Pennsylvania Dairy Princess and Promotion Services coronation in Harrisburg.

Franklin County Dairy Princess Selina Horst of Marion was crowned Pennsylvania Dairy Princess in September.

In the 66-year history of the dairy promotion program, five Franklin County Dairy Princesses were alternates at the state level, but none previously secured the top spot.

Horst, the daughter of Jan and Georgiana Horst, racked up some more numbers in the state contest as she shared her passion for the dairy industry and its promotion. The princesses are judged on public speaking, dairy industry knowledge, poise and personality.

Unlike many of the competitors, the 23-year-old didn’t grow up on a dairy farm. She is part of the Horst Seeds family and used that as the starting point in her speech “Growing to Be a Dairy Promoter.” From planting to harvest, she juxtaposed her own journey through dairy promotion with insights about farmers, agriculture in the 21st century and the benefits of dairy products.

Franklin County Dairy Princess Selina Horst is shown at her home in Marion. She was crowned Pennsylvania Dairy Princess in September.

The speech was awarded first place and Horst earned second place with a skit for kids in which she played a dairy detective helping her puppet Leroy find missing dairy products. She rounded out the required elements of competition coming in third for dairy knowledge and also placed first in the optional poster display. There also was an interview with the judges and a “table talk,” where contestants eat with the judges who evaluate how they present themselves.

“I prepared for weeks in advance. I knew I did my best and from that point on it was in God’s hands,” Horst said.

How has Selina Horst’s involvement in agriculture grown?

She’s actually been preparing for years at the county level for her post as 2022-23 Pennsylvania Dairy Princess. She was a Franklin County Fair Princess in 2012 and served as Franklin County Fair Queen in 2019-20. She and Jeremy Laman are now the adult coordinators for the junior fair board, a group of 12- to 21-year-olds representing the future of agriculture.

In addition to serving as Franklin County and Pennsylvania Dairy Princess, Selina Horst, far right, is an adult coordinator of the Franklin County Junior Fair Board. A cow made of round hay bales was put up near the the board’s tents in 2021.

This is her third stint as Franklin County Dairy Princess, previously serving in 2016 and 2020.

“I fell in love with the dairy industry, farmers and partners,” said Horst, an alumnus of the Franklin County Career and Technical School veterinary assisting program.

After high school, she worked at a heifer-raising facility for three years and is in her second year as a learning support teaching assistant at Falling Spring and Guilford Hills elementary schools in the Chambersburg Area School District.

“My passion is education — watching their little eyes light up makes my heart happy,” Horst said.

Pennsylvania Dairy Princess Selina Horst of Franklin County is shown with the other members of state royalty team: Natalie Grumbine of Berks County, left, first alternate and Darcy Heltzel of Blair County, second alternate.

There are multiple educational facets to her work as Pennsylvania Dairy Princess and she’ll have the support of Natalie Grumbine of Berks County, first alternate, and Darcy Heltzel from Blair County, second alternate.

What's in store for Pennsylvania dairy royalty?

One mission of Pennsylvania Dairy Princess and Promotion Services Inc. is “to plan and conduct the training of young people to serve as dairy industry promoters now and to be future agricultural leaders.”

“One of my goals is to give back to the program that helped shape me into the person I am today,” Horst said. Behind the scenes, she’ll work with 250 county dairy princesses, little misses and dairy ambassadors from across the state at training sessions and sees growth — “growing in yourself and the dairy industry” — as a theme for the year.

On a more visible level, she will promote the nutritional and economic value of dairy at events big and small around the state and locally.

“We’re going to be moving, but it’s exciting,” Horst said.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show will be a “very, very long week,” Horst anticipates, with an education area set up next to the Calving Corner. She’ll be one of the celebrities in the rabbit hopping competition, holding a leash and running along with a rabbit as it hops over hurdles.

The year’s itinerary includes Center for Dairy Excellence Training, the Women in Dairy Conference, the PA Dairy Summit, the Junior Holstein Convention, attending all the county dairy pageants — the farthest 5 ½ hours away — and the week before next year’s state pageant, the All-American Dairy Show in Harrisburg.

Horst and her team promote dairy at schools, festivals, parades, clubs, community events and anywhere else they are invited.

“So many people don’t know where their food comes from,” Horst said. She recounted an encounter at the Bloomsburg Fair, where a woman said, “I just get my milk from Wawa,” referring to the convenience store chain.

Horst had a 15-minute conversation with the woman and cited the “multiplier effect” as the woman shares what she learned with others.

Horst still wears the county crown and appears at local events, such as the fall events at Country Creek Produce, not far from her home in Marion.

Anyone who wants to schedule a dairy presentation can contact Patty Hege, county booking chairman, at 717-375-2811; 717-729-6306; or gamme@embarqmail.com

Would you like a recipe from the Franklin County Dairy Princess?

A recipe from each county dairy princess is featured in the Royal Dairy Recipes booklet and here’s the one from Horst:

Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes

5 pounds potatoes8 ounces cream cheese1 stick butter1 ½ cups milk (start with ½ cup)Salt and pepper to taste

Peel and cube potatoes, then cook until soft. Mash potatoes and then add cream cheese, butter and milk until it is the consistency you like. Mix in salt and pepper. Grease casserole dish before putting in the mashed potatoes. Put dots of butter on top of potatoes before baking.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or 250 degrees for 2-3 hours.

Note: This recipe can easily be cut in half.

Shawn Hardy is a reporter with Gannett's Franklin County newspapers in south-central Pennsylvania — the Echo Pilot in Greencastle, The Record Herald in Waynesboro and the Public Opinion in Chambersburg. She has more than 35 years of journalism experience. Reach her at shardy@gannett.com