Miss America joins Southwest Dairy Farmers to promote the health benefits of drinking milk 

By FAITH HUFFMAN |  News-Telegram News Editor

Aug 19, 2007 - Everyone in the country knows Miss America, and now thanks to the 20-year-old Oklahoma pageant winner, they also are familiar with Southwest Dairy Farmers.

Lauren Nelson of Lawton, Okla., uses her celebrity to promote health and safety, especially for children. After meeting with Southwest Dairy Farmers Chief Executive Officer Jim Hill, who mentioned their programs, the two entities formed a partnership to promote not only healthy nutrition but also drinking milk.

Southwest Dairy Farmers is an alliance of 500 dairy farmers from Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri who pool financial and other resources to provide dairy-product and dairy-industry research, education and promotion, which will be supported by Nelson as she meets with children from the southwestern region of the country.

�I love being a part of this campaign and this promotion,� said Nelson, who took top marks in the lifestyle and fitness competition during the 2007 Miss America Pageant. �It�s a great nutritional message for children and adults. Milk is a healthy way for all of us to stay fit.�

Southwest Dairy Farmers also indicated that Nelson is the the right person to act as spokesman for the organization.

�We have many programs and promotions going on throughout the year, and we believe Lauren can have great impact as the spokesperson for the Southwest Dairy Farmers,� Hill said. �From Oklahoma, Lauren has seen first-hand the importance of the dairy industry, and she knows well the health and nutritional values of milk. Her personal platforms, especially with children, bring credibility to our messages for both kids and adults about making safe and healthy choices. We think Lauren represents the best in what dairy farming and our dairy farm families are all about.�

Nelson currently can be seen on a variety of billboards (see below) holding a glass of milk, promoting its importance as well as getting more recognition for not only the Miss America pageant but also Southwest Dairy Farmers. Some of the signs can be seen on billboards between Sulphur Springs and Dallas as well as in ads, brochures, and on the pageant and SDF websites: wwww.missamerica.org and southwestdairyfarmers.com.

The Oklahoman indicated that she is excited to, in some small way, be carrying out a tradition set by her family of educators by “teaching kids about nutrition.”

As spokesperson for Southwest Dairy Farmers, Nelson will be making some appearances alongside the dairy group’s Mobile Dairy Classroom, a traveling exhibit featuring a live cow, milking machines and an instructor, which travel year-round to educate grade school children at their schools and other venues. Southwest Dairy Farmers currently has 12 of the traveling milking parlors from which trained instructors instruct kids on milking a cow, how milk gets from the farm to the consumer and the “dairy farm experience,” something a number of Hopkins County children are already quite familiar with. Annually, the exhibit is shown to about 55,000 children in school settings and 225,000 kids at fairs, festivals and livestock shows.

Nelson will make her first appearance with the mobile classroom in September in her home state, then in October she will appear with the Southwest Dairy Farmer’s exhibit, SDF’s Kids & Kows & More program, at the State Fair of Texas.

In addition to these two programs, SDF also supports the Southwest Dairy Museum in Sulphur Springs and helps fund a research chair at Texas A&M University, which conducts studies and offers symposiums to help keep dairy farmers informed of consumer’s needs and wants.

�Lauren is a pleasure to work with, and we believe she is a positive and credible spokesperson for our Southwest Dairy Farmers. ... Her smiles on our outdoor billboards, as well as her message, represent the best in what our dairy farming and our dairy farm families are all about. We�re proud of Lauren and the work she is doing as Miss America,� Hill said.

In addition to acting as spokesperson for Southwest Dairy Farmers, Nelson also is an undergraduate at the University of Central Oklahoma, where she was the recipient of the Freshman Merit Scholarship. The Lawton McArthur High School graduate also benefitted from the Lawton Community Foundation Scholarship, and was honored with the Renaissance Academic Award for maintaining a 4.0 grade point average.

Nelson’s personal platform is Internet safety, and protecting children online. She assists law enforcement officials across the country to raise awareness among children and parents regarding the need to protect children online and off from Internet predators. 

�It is critical for parents to police with their children�s keyboards because one out of seven children have been approached by an online predator. Unless parents monitor what sites their children are visiting and use available software, their child could be at risk,� Nelson states in her platform statement.

�The Internet is a great tool for getting news, conducting research and communicating with others, but it is also a haven for online predators. By teaching kids early and often what the dangers of the Internet are and how to avoid them, and working with government officials to pass legislation that is tough on online predators we can help make the Internet a safe, kid-friendly place for our children,� she added.

To say education on Internet safety is very important to Nelson is an understatement. It’s very personal for the reigning Miss America.

�At age 13, some friends and I were approached in an Internet chat room by someone who we later discovered was an online predator. We made the mistake of giving out our personal information, including names, location and ages. A week later, we received inappropriate photographs in the mail. We immediately told our parents and were lucky that the situation was defused without incident. We learned a valuable lesson about how to protect ourselves online. It is my hope that children will learn these lessons before they find themselves in a dangerous situation, like my friends and I did,� Nelson explained.

She’s working with Symantec, and is a spokesperson for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Cox Communications. 

�I hope to use my voice to help these organizations educate and raise awareness about Internet Safety for Children and help pass much needed legislation so that all children will be safe on-line. I am helping to support NCMEC�s mission of preventing child abduction and sexual exploitation; helping find missing children; and assisting victims of child abduction and sexual exploitation, their families, and the professionals who serve them.

�I have also teamed with Cox Communications to film public service announcements that are targeted towards parents to help safeguard our nation�s children. I look forward to using my year of service to bring new light to the important and timely issue of Internet Safety,� she said.

More information about Internet safety, including a parent tutorial, can be found by clicking on the symantec promotion on the Miss America website.

Also, Nelson also continues the Miss America Organization’s 18 year partnership with the Children’s Miracle Network.

�To build on this legacy, Children�s Miracle Network has been selected as the official national platform for the Miss America Scholarship Program. This partnership represents the first time in the 86-year history of the Miss America Organization that they have adopted a national platform,� she said.

Nelson serves as Goodwill Ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network, working tirelessly to strengthen CMN’s efforts to raise funds for 170 children’s hospitals across the country. This year, Nelson has helped Miss America For kids has raise $664,443.

�I knew I would be the new National Goodwill Ambassador for Children�s Miracle Network when I was crowned, but I had no idea what an impact it would have on me,� Nelson said after touring Children�s Hospital of Philadelphia on Feb. 5, her first official visit on Fe National Good Will Ambassador for CMN. �These kids are amazing. I am proud to be a part of the Children�s Miracle Network family. I would encourage girls competing at all levels to get involved with this great organization because together we can make a difference.��

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