Like most teenagers, Crystal Bomgardner leads an active lifestyle.

Unlike most teenagers, her life will be a little bit busier than most of her peers in 2021.

Bomgardner, who was recently crowned 2021 Lebanon County Dairy Princess, is happy to once again have the opportunity to officially promote the health benefits of dairy products.

“I decided to run for dairy princess because I’ve done it in the past as Little Miss, Dairy Miss and Dairy Maid – and I loved it,” said 17-year-old Bomgardner, daughter of Corwin and Tara Bomgardner of Jonestown. “I love talking to people and I am very outgoing. Since I have those skills, I may as well use them to promote such a great product and a product that is so healthy for people. I am passionate about it and that’s why I decided to promote it.”

Her passion for an industry she loves dearly extends beyond the health benefits it provides people.

“One of my biggest goals in the coming year is to publicly thank dairy farmers because I see how hard they work,” Bomgardner said. “I’ve been in their shoes and I want them to know that I think they are doing an amazing job.”

Bomgardner, who is a lifeguard at Hersheypark in the summer and is also employed at Bongiorno Conference Center in Carlisle, noted that dairy contains nine essential nutrients that are good for you.

Bomgardner serves on the Tri-County Youth Worship Team.

“Those nine essential nutrients help with bone health and muscle health and it is incredible for athletic recovery as well,” said Bomgardner. “When you sweat during physical activity, it replenishes what was lost during those activities. It also helps with preventing osteoporosis and bone fractures and it is healthy for you.”

Bomgardner added that she did research, as part of her pageant presentation to the judges, and discovered a study that highlighted the athletic performance of athletes who consumed milk products versus those who drank drinks branded as sports beverages.

“One major thing for me this year is to reach high school athletes about drinking chocolate milk as a recovery drink for their bodies,” said Bomgardner. “My speech talks about how it (chocolate milk) has protein, calcium and other minerals and electrolytes that provide important health benefits and help you recover after physical activity as well as assist with future performance.”

Bomgardner, who is home schooled and attends agriculture classes through the Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter at Northern Lebanon High School, where she is president, added that the study incorporated research that showed a clear delineation of performance benefits of one beverage over the other.

“The research focused on the bench press and squats, and athletes who drank milk bench pressed 3.5 percent more than those who didn’t drink chocolate milk,” Bomgardner said. “The commercial beverage drinkers did 8 percent more squats but chocolate milk drinkers nearly doubled that percent by doing 15 percent more than the non-milk drinkers.”

The second oldest child of eight in her family, who range in age from 2 to 19, Bomgardner worked on the 119-acre dairy farm of John and Margaret Bomgardner, her grandparents. Although her grandparents have scaled back their operation after 60 years, Bomgardner learned how important the industry is to the state’s economy. That’s especially true, she added, coming out of a global pandemic.

“I feel like the dairy industry will be just as important coming out of the pandemic because of the jobs that it creates,” Bomgardner said. “It creates over 52,000 jobs and contributes over $14.2 billion to the economy, in just Pennsylvania alone. It will also be extremely important to consume three servings of dairy a day to ensure that you stay strong and healthy.”

Although Bomgardner may not have as much free time this year to enjoy her usual hobbies – which include playing basketball, the piano and guitar, hanging out with her friends, swimming and serving the Lord as a member of the Tri-County Youth Worship team – she relishes the chance to promote dairy to consumers.

Some of her upcoming promotional activities include the Lebanon Area Fair, which runs July 24-31, an appearance with other state princesses at Christmas Candylane at Hersheypark this coming December and, if it returns this January, the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

“I’m very excited about the Lebanon Area Fair and the Farm Show because they are both great events,” said Bomgardner. “I will be at the fair all week promoting the dairy industry either at the milkshake stand and when I am not there, I will hand out ribbons at the dairy shows and attend many of the other great events, like Farmers Night on Thursday.”

Being at the Farm Show is just as exciting for Bomgardner as attending her county fair.

“I love the Farm Show so much because of the large number of people you get to meet there,” said Bomgardner, “and because we get to be at the princess booth to meet consumers and tell them about the health benefits of dairy products.”

Those two events, however, are just the tip of the promotional iceberg for Bomgardner in the coming year.

“I will attend banquets, where I will meet dairy farmers and have the chance to thank them for what they do,” said Bomgardner. “I will go to elementary schools to speak to children about the importance of dairy. I will visit other fairs throughout the county, participate in parades, which are so much fun, go to 4-H Club meetings and attend Hersheypark’s Christmas Candylane.”

Although Bomgardner is uncertain what she will do after she graduates from high school next spring, she is content, for now, to use her time to rep dairy.

“I want to be a positive light for the dairy industry by meeting as many consumers as I can to share with them the amazing benefits of dairy,” said Bomgardner.

Since June is celebrated as National Dairy Month, Bomgardner shared two of her favorite recipes with LebTown readers.

The first recipe is her dad’s favorite but she cautions readers that once made, “you can’t eat just one” cream cheese cookie. The second is her favorite recipe because it incorporates macaroni and cheese with sausage, two foods she loves.

Cream Cheese Cookies

1 box yellow cake mix
¼ tsp vanilla
1 egg
8 oz cream cheese
¼ cup butter
Cream cream cheese and butter. Add egg and vanilla. Then add cake mix. Mix until well combined. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 12 minutes or until set in the middle.

Cheesy Shells and Sausage

1 (16 oz) Package of medium shells pasta
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 pound kielbasa, sliced
2 cups frozen three pepper blend vegetables, chopped
1 pound processed cheese loaf
¾ cup 2% milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes drained
Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain. Return to the pan. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add sausage and peppers. Sauté until heated through and slightly browned. Add cheese, milk and butter to pasta. Cook over low heat until the cheese is melted, stirring frequently. Stir in sausage, peppers and tomatoes.

This is a great meal to enjoy with your family, Bomgardner noted in this recipe.

Questions about this story? Suggestions for a future LebTown article? Reach our newsroom using this contact form and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

Support local journalism.

Cancel anytime.


🌟 Annual

Already a member? Login here

Free news isn’t cheap. If you value the journalism LebTown provides to the community, then help us make it sustainable by becoming a champion of local news. You can unlock additional coverage for the community by supporting our work with a one-time contribution, or joining as a monthly or annual member. You can cancel anytime.

James Mentzer is a freelance writer whose published works include the books Pennsylvania Manufacturing: Alive and Well; Bucks County: A Snapshot in Time; United States Merchant Marine Academy: In Service to the Nation 1943-2018; A Century of Excellence: Spring Brook Country Club 1921-2021; Lancaster...