September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Spring break travels

By Christine Reitsma- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

My spring break is officially over, but with the beautiful weather it will be difficult to rein in my spring fever! The snow has melted, the sun is shining, and I am waiting in anticipation for everything to start turning green. I feel so blessed to have such incredible weather because it has made my travels across the state quite a joy! As I prepared to write this article, I could not help but think of the many joys I have been able to experience throughout my year as Princess Kay. A great amount of that joy comes from visiting classrooms. My smile grows when I think of watching children stare in awe at how huge a calf bottle is in comparison to a baby bottle, hearing a group of second graders repeat "pasteurization" and then proudly telling me what it means, and seeing the friendly competition and giggling between students as each one fights to make their cream into butter faster.
All of these moments and so many more continue to make this year a thrill. On Feb. 27, I visited McKinley Elementary in Owatonna. This visit was especially exciting because Princess Kay finalist Stephanie Kasper was able to accompany me. As if the children weren't already in awe when I told them of the 60 cows we milk on my family's farm, they were blown away when Steph told them her family's much larger dairy was only a few miles away from their school! We had a fun lunch break with a prize wheel that some lucky students were able to spin to see which dairy prize they won. (Steph and I also took our chances and received cow keychains!). In between running the prize wheel, I sat down at a few different tables to talk to the children about what they had learned and to ask if there were any more questions. Over a dozen children who we had visited earlier showed me that the milk in their carton used rBST and rBST-free milk, which Steph and I had taught the students about prior to lunch. Another group eagerly pointed out where on their carton it was stated that the milk is pasteurized. I also couldn't help but overhear one child explaining to another why he drinks chocolate milk: "Milk is good stuff. Even if it's chocolate or strawberry."
A week later, I headed to Pumpkin Patch preschool in Monticello where my niece and nephew are students. Nathan thought it was hilarious that the book I read, "Clarabelle," was just like his sister Clara's name. They both helped me to explain to their classmates what the "moo-moo cows" on our family's farm make and where it goes after leaving the farm. Before I knew it, the crackers topped with homemade butter and the cheese sticks were eaten and it was time for me to leave.
My spring break started on a Friday morning while I was sneaking out of my dorm room before anyone else had awoke. I was off to Redwood Falls for a day filled with classroom visits and radio and newspaper interviews. In the afternoon, I spoke to a sophomore health class at the high school. Usually my audience at a school is made up of elementary students, so this was a bit of change. It took a little while for the older students to open up, but they became much more involved after they found out they could each have a cheese stick if they could recall milk's nine essential nutrients, which they all did! That night at the Minnesota All- Breeds Convention, I had the special opportunity to speak to the group of people I have the pleasure of representing. I cannot thank Minnesota dairy farmers enough for making what I do such a joy.
Later on in the week, it was time to head north to Bemidji for a grocery store promotion. I handed out samples of chocolate, strawberry, and even banana flavored milk and talked to shoppers about the nutritional benefits of dairy. The next day I visited Kelliher school and spoke to preschool through senior students. Earlier in the year, I had thought that I may have trouble traveling so far up north, but the clear skies and sixty degree temperatures could not have made it any easier.
To finish off my break, I headed south again to visit a preschool class in Cosmos and then talked to a group of second graders at Willmar Community Christian School. It happened to be Jersey Day for the second graders, which made for a great connection to Fuel Up to Play 60!
I look forward to my upcoming Fuel Up to Play 60 events. I am positive that this year will again bring many enthusiastic dairy advocates that are passionate about spreading the message about dairy farmers. These past six months have been an incredible experience and I look forward to sharing my stories with others that have the same passion.
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