Student Represents Minnesota Dairy Industry
By Melissa Klein
OCT. 26, 2007--Many young children have a dream of becoming a prince or a princess. Like many Minnesota dairy farmer's daughters, University of Wisconsin-River Falls student Londa Johnson had a dream of becoming Princess Kay of the Milky Way, the Minnesota dairy princess.
A sophomore majoring in dairy science, Johnson's dream stems from her life on the farm. "I love the dairy industry because it is dear to my heart as I grew up on a dairy farm," she said.
To vie for this prestigious title, a candidate must live or work on a dairy farm or their parents must work on a dairy farm. They compete at the county level to become a dairy princess. This summer, Johnson, who is from La Crescent, Minn., scored the Houston County title.
After that, up to 100 county princesses attend a weekend seminar and training where they compete for 12 finalist spots. Tension builds, and on the night before the opening day of the Minnesota State Fair, the coveted crown for Princess Kay and her court is awarded.
Ann Miron, from Hugo, Minn., who was representing Washington County, was named the 54 th Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Johnson was chosen as a runner-up for the coveted crown.
"It was an honor to represent what I do every day along with more than 5,000 dairy farmers in Minnesota," said Johnson. "[I] was excited to have the opportunity to compete for the title."
During the Minnesota State Fair Johnson helped with various promotional activities including handing out ribbons at dairy shows, serving milk at the all-you-can- drink milk stand, helping with Minnesota Twins shortstop Jason Bartlett and Minnesota Vikings mascot Ragnar with autograph sessions.
One highlight of her state fair experience was getting her likeness carved in a 90-pound block of butter. The quirky honor is a fair favorite; each of the 12 finalists spends a day sitting in a rotating 38 degree cooler for six to eight hours while fair-goers watch in amazement.
After the fair, each finalist takes her bust-of-butter sculpture home. Johnson plans to have a sweet corn feed next summer with her family and friends to thank them for their support.
Johnson also has a minor in business and professional communication. On campus she is involved in Dairy Club, Sigma Alpha, Agriculture Education Society, and is a peer advisor for the Career Services office.
Johnson is also involved in dairy cattle judging contests. Recently, she was on the second place team at the Minnesota State Fair representing Houston County 4-H. She placed fourth overall and fifth in reasons. Her team the qualified to compete in the All American Youth Dairy Cattle Judging Contest in Harrisburg, Penn, where the team placed second overall and second in reasons. The team won the Brown Swiss breed, and placed fifth in the Jersey breed. Individually, Johnson placed fourth in the Holstein breed and fifth in the Jersey breed.
She plans to use these skills to participate on the UWRF Dairy Judging team next year. Johnson said there is an obvious benefit to participating in these contests. "Giving oral reasons is my favorite part of the contest because although you may not agree with the official placing, you can still back up your placing," she says. "I have been able to improve my public speaking skills through judging as well as networking and meeting other people who have the same fondness for dairy cattle."
After graduation Johnson plans to continue promoting the dairy industry by working with genetics or a breed association. She also owns 20 cows and plans to continue building her herd.
Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:08:36 Central Daylight Time
University of Wisconsin - River Falls