August 16, 2021 at 1:25 p.m.

A serendipitous experience

Lindahl leans on family, community while representing MN dairy
Isabelle Lindahl is a Princess Kay of the Milky Way finalist representing Chisago County. The 21-year-old grew up on her family’s 100-cow dairy near Lindstrom, Minnesota. PHOTO BY MARK KLAPHAKE
Isabelle Lindahl is a Princess Kay of the Milky Way finalist representing Chisago County. The 21-year-old grew up on her family’s 100-cow dairy near Lindstrom, Minnesota. PHOTO BY MARK KLAPHAKE

    LINDSTROM, Minn. – The Lindahl family’s reach in the dairy industry spans three generations, and with that youngest generation comes the Serendipity prefix. But a couple of Jersey cows is only the start of how Isabelle Lindahl’s time in the dairy industry has been unexpectantly good.
    “Serendipity means good things happening by chance, luck,” Lindahl said. “That explains a lot about myself and these cows.”
    Lindahl, the daughter of Kevin and Tara, is one of 10 young women vying for the title of 68th Princess Kay of the Milky Way.
    The 21-year-old, who grew up on her family’s 100-cow dairy farm in Chisago County near Lindstrom, was humbled when her name was called as the ninth finalist. During the announcement, Lindahl was surrounded by her grandmother, Judy, dad and sister, Madelin.
    “We gathered around the living room couch after having brunch together,” Lindahl said. “Even though it would’ve been great to have that announcement in person, it was special for my family because my grandma could attend. That meant a lot for me; it was a blessing in disguise.”
    Lindahl grew up feeding calves alongside her grandmother. As she got older, Lindahl took on other responsibilities on the farm, such as milking the mostly Holstein herd.
    While listening to the announcement of the finalists, there were a couple instances when Lindahl thought her name would be called.
    “When the first finalist was described, they talked about her being the third generation,” Lindahl said. “I got excited and could feel my blood pumping. I was convinced it was me. It was nerve-wracking.”
    There was one small nugget of information that confirmed Lindahl’s place in the finalist lineup. She was the remaining contestant who was attending the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
    “I knew there was only one other woman who attended the U, and she was previously announced,” Lindahl said. “I instantly knew. Then, there were other connectors like the fact that I traveled to Iceland for a spring break.”
    When Lindahl’s family caught on to who No. 9 was, emotion filled the room.
    “Seeing my grandma and sister, who was a finalist a few years ago, I couldn’t hold back,” Lindahl said. “There were hugs and tears. It was a really special, intimate moment.”
    Since being named a finalist, Lindahl has spent the summer promoting dairy consumption and bringing awareness to sustainable farming practices all while embracing the support of her tight-knit community.
    “This summer has been exciting,” Lindahl said. “It’s great to see people gather and converse, and it’s been super fun to hear people’s support of dairy farmers and dairy foods.”
    Amidst the parades, community gatherings and county fairs, Lindahl’s favorite experience so far was when she was the featured speaker for the Women’s Ag Leadership Network event during June Dairy Month.
    At this event, she presented to industry professionals about how to advocate for agriculture and the importance of telling farmer stories.
    “That was fun,” Lindahl said. “I had just recently been named a Princess Kay finalist, and I was surrounded by a different audience unique from the county fair.”
     One of her favorite messages to share with consumers is how sustainable dairy farming is today. Lindahl leans on her family’s good practices of manure management and water conservation.
    “Sustainability is a really big buzz word with parts of society right now,” Lindahl said. “I’ve become a face to that word, sharing how my family farms sustainably so that the farm can be passed down. As the third generation, I’m very much a part of this story.”
    Aside from sharing positive messages about the dairy industry, Lindahl has also taken this time to give back to her community. She was first involved in her county dairy princess program at the age of 6 as a Little Miss Dairy Princess.
    “I was a very shy person growing up. I used to hide behind my mom’s legs, and I never thought I’d grow up to be the public speaker I am today,” Lindahl said. “Seeing where I’ve come from and the person I’ve become is really amazing and something that needs to be recognized. I’m doing my best to give back and do the best I can for dairy farmers and a program that gave so much to me.”
    Lindahl’s time in the advocacy spotlight is not entirely new. She previously served as the Minnesota Jersey Queen after being more involved with the breed because of a National FFA grant. The grant allowed Lindahl to start her herd of Jerseys, which is where the Serendipity prefix originates.
     “My grandpa maintained a little herd of Jerseys; it was something he enjoyed,” Lindahl said. “Being able to continue on that legacy since he passed is something really special for my grandma to see.”
    In the weeks ahead, Lindahl is looking forward to connecting with her fellow finalists and sharing her dairy story with attendees at the Minnesota State Fair.
    “I’m so excited to talk to as many people as I can and getting back to advocating in a more normal fashion,” Lindahl said.
    She is also hopeful this experience will impact her life long after the fair is over.
    Lindahl will graduate from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities this December with bachelor degrees in animal science and agricultural and food business management, and a minor in finance. She is currently a commercial banking intern at BMO Harris and has her sights set on becoming an agricultural lender.
    “Everything I’ve done and all I plan to do really comes down to my involvement in the dairy industry,” Lindahl said. “I think about that passion often and why I’m here today as a finalist.”


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