May 24, 2021 at 2:58 p.m.
The finalists were announced May 16 in an online video after going through judging at the annual May Leadership and Promotion Event the day before. Candidates could choose whether they participated in person or through a virtual platform.
“We had a great team effort with a lot of people pulling their weight to make the event possible,” said Jenna Davis, Midwest Dairy farmer relations manager. “If they chose an in-person judging time, we tried to keep them no longer than 2.5 hours to minimize the potential for any exposure to any risk, and we tried to keep the groups small.”
The workshops that are typically included in this event were moved to an online platform in the four weeks leading up to the judging.
This year’s 10 finalists include Emeliya Dose, 18, of Plainview, representing Wabasha County; Kelsey Erf, 19, of Oakdale, representing Washington County; Anna Euerle, 19, of Litchfield, representing Meeker County; Alaina Johnson, 18, of Dakota, representing Houston County; Kelsey Kuball, 19, of Waterville, representing Rice County; Emily Leonard, 21, of Norwood Young America, representing Carver County; Isabelle Lindahl, 20, of Lindstrom, representing Chisago County; Megan Meyer, 17, of Rollingstone, representing Winona County; Jessica Ohmann, 20, of Albany, representing Stearns County; and Katrina Thoe, 22, of Hayfield, representing Dodge County.
“We were all screaming and hugging,” Ohmann said about the moment her name was announced on the video while she watched it with her family. “Once they called my name, I was filled with happiness and excitement because I worked very hard to get to that point. I was overwhelmed, and it came as a bit of a shock because I know there are so many good girls in Minnesota that could represent our whole state.”
Although Kuball watched the announcement herself, she had her parents on the phone with her during that time.
“I did a lot of screaming, and I could hear my mom on the other end screaming too,” she said.
When Johnson was watching the video with her friends, she started crying when she heard her name.
“It meant so much to me,” Johnson said. “I remember watching my three aunts who were Princess Kay finalists at the state fair get their heads carved out of butter. I have always said I want to be that someday. Me being named a Princess Kay finalist means I’ve made it.”
Although Johnson’s love for dairy started at a young age, her time in high school sparked her interest in promotion.
“I went to a high school that didn’t really know about agriculture and dairy products so I was able to share with them my passion of dairy and why they should add it to their diet,” Johnson said.
Kuball has had a similar experience as she attends a private Christian college.
“Almost no one has interacted with agriculture, and when I bring up cows, people are so excited,” she said. “I really love to talk about my own experiences and really make the dairy farmer someone who is personal. They are people who are members of your community around you, and they care and are invested in their business and community.”
Ohmann looks forward to sharing dairy messages with people this summer as a Princess Kay finalist and Stearns County ambassador.
“No matter in our county whether you’re a princess or an ambassador we all have the same events and the same opportunity to share our own personal dairy stories,” Ohmann said.
This includes telling people to consume three servings of dairy every day – her favorite dairy message.
“I know not everybody is getting those three servings,” Ohmann said. “Maybe you start your day with yogurt. Have cheese incorporated in your lunch and a glass of milk with a meal. I think by adding dairy in little ways, like cheese on your salad, it’s great to get three servings every day.”
One of Johnson’s favorite messages to share is how dairy is responsibly produced.
“As a dairy farmer, I have a lot of experience working on my farm with the cows and calves both,” Johnson said. “I have a lot of experience knowing they are well cared for and what we do matters. So many consumers don’t know what goes on at a dairy farm and how well we do care for our animals. I would love to be able to share that with them.”
All three are excited to have their head carved in a 90-pound block of butter, a tradition that will carry on regardless of any possible cancellations.
“The butterhead is the first thing I thought of, thinking about what are we going to do with that?” Kuball said. “We’ve always talked about doing a sweet corn feed so I am definitely excited to do that.”
Most importantly, Kuball, Ohmann and Johnson are excited to share Minnesota’s dairy community with others.
“I’m so honored to be able to represent Minnesota’s dairy farmers,” Johnson said. “I hope to do the best job I can and educate consumers on dairy’s great qualities that are responsibly produced and nutrient rich, and be able to share my dairy story with as many people as I can.”
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