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Gilford students find milk is not just healthy, but educational too



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Jeremy LaChance and his friend Kellie Ryan toast to success. They’re working together with their friend Cole Winkelmann to name milk as the official state beverage. Donna Rhodes. (click for larger version)
January 06, 2010
Mooooo-ve over apple cider. A group of fourth-grade students from Gilford is campaigning to make milk the state's official beverage while another group from Jaffrey is working for cider to hold the distinction.

Jeremy LaChance, who heard about the cider campaign while on a trip to the State House in Concord, said he disagreed that cider should be the state's drink of choice. Once he got home from the field trip, he asked his mother Dawn how he could go about fighting for milk instead. After some online investigation, they began an endeavor that might have been more involved than they thought originally, but one the entire LaChance family is enjoying.

"It's just taken on a life of it's own now," said Dawn.

To begin the campaign, Jeremy wrote letters to seven state representatives and was excited when he heard back from district representative Peter Bolster. He and fellow representative Jeff St. Cyr have been walking LaChance through the process of introducing a bill.

With assistance from his parents and good friends Cole Winkelmann and Kellie Ryan, LaChance has written letters about his intentions to 176 N.H. dairy farmers as well, asking for their support. He has received backing from many of the farmers, some even sending checks for $25 to help them promote milk as the state beverage.

"We're going to use the money to buy things to make signs and get some tee shirts made to wear to the State House," Kellie said.

One card the trio just received, from the Swain family in Sanbornton, said, "We are happy to hear (and read) of your interest in milk. We will help you!"

Concord dairy farmer Alan Bartlett has really stepped up to the plate, Dawn noted, and will even testify before the Environment and Agricultural Committee on the matter.

Jeremy said he felt it important to recognize milk since it is the "American drink" and a part of every day life in this country. But there was more behind his motivation than just naming milk as the state drink.

"We hope it will help the dairy farmers. Dairies are a big thing in this state," he said.

He pointed out how many things are made from milk, like butter, yogurt and ice cream. All of it is made possible by the hard work of the dairy farmer.

With the momentum building, classmates, teachers and others from school are expressing an interest in becoming involved. Jeremy will appear in a special presentation of the school's television broadcast where he will explain what the project is all about. His teacher, Pam Hayes, is also helping out with a petition and other ways to get the school involved in backing her three students.

Dawn was dismayed to hear criticism on Channel 9 about "silly bills" being introduced in the House that took up valuable time. The process of introducing a bill and seeing it through to its outcome, she said, is an educational experience that shouldn't be denied. All three students will be attending the committee hearing to see it through from start to finish.

A tentative date of Feb. 4 has been set for a hearing before the House, where Jeremy, Cole and Kellie will make their pitch to name milk the official state beverage. St. Cyr has been coaching them on how to prepare and what to expect when they arrive for the hearing.

"He told us to write a speech with eight sentences. We'll introduce ourselves, say our sentences about milk then ask if there's any questions. After that we say 'Thank you for your time' and then the next one will talk," Jeremy said.

Dawn said that with Jaffrey students testifying for apple cider for the state drink, there has been some talk of a compromise between the two, possibly ending with two drinks being named. Before they testify in February, the two sides will be brought together in a committee room to see if they can work something out between them. That deliberation in itself, she said, will be an education in diplomacy for the two groups.

Until then, the milk campaign continues. They have been brainstorming slogans for their posters and spent a lot of time with the media as they try to drum up support for milk and the dairy farmers. They have also learned a lot about milk, like the "fun fact" that a cow will give 200,000 glasses of milk in her lifetime and, Jeremy's mother's favorite, one cup of milk has as much calcium in it as three and a half cups of broccoli.

"Jeremy likes both so I guess he's in good shape," she laughed.

With all of the talk about milk in the LaChance household, mom also noted another interesting thing in their house.

"Our youngest son Joey never drank a lot of milk, but I see him drinking a lot more now, so there's another benefit from all of this," Dawn said.

Cole was on vacation in Texas last week, but the LaChance family said he has been terrific in helping with the campaign.

"When the state drink is milk, we'll all come back here and celebrate," Jerremy said.

And if not?

"Maybe I'll try to get them to name a state cat," he joked.

Anyone who would like to know how they can help Jeremy, Cole and Kellie in their support for milk and the dairy farmers of the state may contact them at dlachance4@aol.com.

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