Eli Hopp of Chatfield is a guy who loves chucking cheese.
“It’s amazing how many people are asking for string cheese instead of candy. If there’s a candy float ahead of us, they don’t want the candy. They want string cheese,” Eli said.
As a Fillmore County Dairy Association Dairy Ambassador, he has developed a very good cheese-flinging arm while riding on the dairy float in parades this past year.
Though Eli, son of Doug and Heather Hopp of rural Chatfield, is only 10 years old, he’s got the message that a stick of cheese is far better for a person’s health than Tootsie Rolls and candy bars.
“You should have three dairy products a day,” he related. “When I work at Dairy Night on the Farm in the malt wagon with the dairy princesses, people ask why and what we do. I usually tell them about three-a-day dairy – that it’s important that you have all three dairy products a day. It’s healthy and good for you.”
Apparently, Eli’s advocacy for milk, cheese and other dairy products is what earned him a second year as a dairy ambassador.
“I kind of wanted to be an ambassador because my sisters were. You have to live on a dairy farm or your parents have to work for one. Cows are important to me,” he explained. “Since I’ve grown up on a farm, I’ve always been doing this and I just got attached to them. I like riding on the floats, throwing string cheese, working in the malt wagon serving malts, handing out floats at the bank, working at Dairy Night on the Farm.”
He shared that his second chance to represent Fillmore County’s cows and dairy farmers is already just as much fun as was the first.
“I’m happy because I did this the year before. I really liked it, and when I found out I was (ambassador) again, I really liked that because I get to do all this stuff again.”
He enjoys living on a dairy farm because it allows him so much freedom.
“It just gives you a lot more space and I like being in the barn helping my dad milk,” Eli said. “I always go outside with my dad…he’s always fixing something or doing crops.”
In addition to being a lifelong, pint-sized dairy farmer, Eli is also a dedicated 4-H member of the Root River Rabbits 4-H Club, planning to take three to four projects to the fair this year. His projects include a fall calf, a spring calf and a pig.
He likes that people who come to the fair recognize him and are still very curious about his role in speaking for the dairy industry.
“We bring stickers and coloring books,” he noted.
Eli added that when he’s not busy flinging cheese sticks into the parade audience or making malts for hungry people, he’s definitely willing to play baseball, basketball or football.