July 26, 2021 at 3:19 p.m.

Kuball enjoys long conversations about cows

Princess Kay finalist shares upbringing with those around her
Kelsey Kuball is representing Rice County as one of the 10 finalists competing for Princess Kay of the Milky. She is the daughter of Nate and Shannon Kuball, who milk 240 cows on their dairy near Waterville, Minnesota. PHOTO BY KRISTA KUZMA
Kelsey Kuball is representing Rice County as one of the 10 finalists competing for Princess Kay of the Milky. She is the daughter of Nate and Shannon Kuball, who milk 240 cows on their dairy near Waterville, Minnesota. PHOTO BY KRISTA KUZMA

By Krista [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

    WATERVILLE, Minn. – Kelsey Kuball’s experience going to college in St. Paul is a lot different than the one she had while growing up in Waterville. Most people at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, where Kuball will be a sophomore this fall, have no connection to agriculture.
    “Every time I bring up cows, it’s about an hour-long conversation,” Kuball said. “I answer one question and it leads to another. It’s so mind blowing to people about what we do on the farm.”
    Kuball’s ability to communicate her dairy knowledge led her to earning a spot as one of the 10 Princess Kay of the Milky Way finalists. Her knowledge comes from growing up as the sixth generation on her family’s 240-cow dairy, now owned and operated by her parents, Nate and Shannon Kuball.
    Kuball and her younger siblings, Emma and Keegan, were in charge of feeding calves during the summer and Saturdays during the school year while growing up.
    “We thought it was torture having to be up early in the summer,” Kuball said with a laugh.
    But all three Kuball children have grown to love and appreciate their farm life. Along with the calf chores, Kuball also milks cows and does fieldwork when needed. Off the farm, Kuball works at a coffee shop.
    This is Kuball’s second year as a Rice County Dairy Princess, a role she admitted was expected of her to take on when she became eligible.
    “But I wanted to do it too,” she said. “I really care about the dairy industry, and I see how misrepresented it is in the media. I know being a dairy princess is the opportunity to be that face for dairy farmers who are always busy and don’t have the time they need to invest in education so we get to be that person.”
    Competing for a spot as a Princess Kay finalist was something Kuball did on her own accord.
    “It wasn’t as expected of me, and I really wanted to do it,” she said. “I had gone to the state fair every year since I was little. I had always seen the butterheads, and I always wanted a butterhead. That was something I thought was so cool.”
    In more recent years, Kuball has realized being a Princess Kay finalist is more than just having your likeness carved in butter.
    “Now that I’m older, I have seen what the program does and how beneficial and necessary it is,” Kuball said. “It’s a big need, and I don’t think Princess Kay can fulfill all of it, but I think the program and the finalists are trustworthy faces to the media.”
    When talking with people about dairy, Kuball likes to emphasize that milk is natural, fresh and real.
    “In this current climate, a big fad is natural and that’s what dairy is,” she said. “It’s natural and nutritious. We can call it a superfood.”
    While Kuball likes talking to others about dairy, she said a challenge for dairy princesses is reaching an audience that is not already connected to agriculture.
    “I think social media is a really good way to do that,” she said. “Especially coming out of COVID-19, you can’t bring mass tours as much, and tours aren’t always feasible for people in certain areas.”
    Kuball said platforms like Instagram and TikTok are good for dairy princesses because they share posts with all users rather than those who are interested in the same topics.
    “For example, Facebook is only going to show stuff related to what you’re interested in so agriculture is only going to farmers,” Kuball said. “We need to actually find the target audience.”
    One target audience Kuball likes to reach is college students.
    “Coming out of high school, that’s when you’re separated from your parents, the major influences on forming your opinions, and now you’re forming your own opinions and trying to figure out what you care about and what you believe,” Kuball said. “I think it’s a really key time and age group to reach.”
    If crowned as Princess Kay, Kuball said she would be excited to reach out to college students. She is also excited to finally reach her dream to have her head carved in butter.
    “That is the catalyst for Princess Kay, but it is not the main thing,” she said.
    Kuball plans to have a sweet corn dinner with her butterhead.
    In the future, Kuball will use her biblical and theological studies major and minor in ancient and classical languages to be in ministry or academic research; however, Kuball said whether wearing a crown or not, she will always promote dairy.
    “Everyone I meet likes to talk to me about dairy,” she said. “I feel like I have a great opportunity to be around people who are interested in dairy, and I have the knowledge and I can share it.”


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