It's been a while since I've updated the Proud to Dairy network about my efforts with Holstein Foundation's Young Dairy Leaders Institute. Since I (finally!) completed my project this month and helped a fellow classmate with his, I figured now would be a good time to check in.

Learn more about YDLI here:

Each YDLI participant was charged with organizing and completing a project that helped to promote the dairy industry. Two of my classmates teamed up to do a "Load Up on Dairy" night at a minor league baseball game. Another classmate was involved in Ontario's first Breakfast on the Farm event, which she then wrote about for Progressive Dairyman Canada.

I'll get to learn about all of my classmates' projects (and present my own) when we meet again in Albuquerque in February 2014.

I don't think my project was quite as exciting as some of the great work of my classmates, but I'm happy with how it turned out.

I want to thank the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association for the grant that allowed me to complete my project. I especially appreciated the guidance of MDA's Stephanie Roscinski as I planned the project. I hosted the event at my local Giant Eagle grocery store.

We handed out cheese samples and promotional materials, including recipes, magnets and notepads with the "Your Milk Comes from a Good Place" logo.

Stephanie suggested handing out store gift cards near the check out section to customers with three or more dairy products in their carts. This was my favorite part of the day. Customers were so excited to receive the gift cards, which included a message that read along the lines of, "Thanks for purchasing dairy products and supporting America's dairy industry. —Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program"

The store owners and staff were so great to work with, and I'm especially appreciative of friends, family and local dairy farmers who came to help. Senator Elder Vogel Jr., also a dairy farmer from Beaver County, came out to show his support for the event.

The Butler County Dairy Promotion Committee, including Butler County Dairy Princess Miranda Lutz, Dairy Miss Maggie Rasp and Maggie's mother, Carin Rasp also helped with the event.

I'm grateful to Jean Kummer, Butler County 4-H Coordinator and Amy Yeiser, a sales representative with Syngenta whose territory covers Butler County to Centre County. And last but certainly not least, my mother, Vicky Caldwell, was a vital part of the event.

See some photos below. Story continues after embedded slideshow.

A week later, I was able to help a fellow classmate, Brent Schuler, complete his YDLI project. Brent hosted nearly 500 people on his family's farm as part of the Berks County farm-city tour.

Brent had several stations set up on the farm, and he took groups of people around, explaining dairy facts as he went.

One of the coolest things he did was set up a modern tractor next to an older one. He then explained to those on the tour that the modern tractor was outfitted with GPS technology and allowed him and his family to be more precise in planting crops.

See photos of Brent's YDLI project below. Story continues after embedded slideshow.

Other YDLI duties over the past year included interviewing non-farm consumers. I also gave presentations to participants of Penn State's Dairy Days Cow Camp and my local Beaver County 4-H Dairy Club. With both groups, I spoke about working with the media and talking points for promoting the dairy industry. I plan to reach out to a local Zumba workout group about the benefits of including dairy in a healthy lifestyle.

YDLI certainly adds responsibility to an already full plate, but it's been a wonderful learning experience and has helped me to grow as an advocate for the industry.

I hope you'll consider participating or supporting YDLI! PTD

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