Close to the heart

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As Valentine’s Day approaches, I think about some of the things I’ve held close to my heart over my life.
Whether it was ice cream runs after a softball game, my family’s Sunday night popcorn nights or chicken Alfredo on my birthday, there are so many little things that have such significance to me.
Dairy has always been at the heart of what I love, and it has added meaning to all the tiny moments of my life. During my break from school in January, I hit the road for events around the state, and I drove through many beautiful snowy sceneries. The frosty landscape on a calm winter day is an absolutely beautiful sight as ice crystals glisten when the sun peeks through the clouds. The smallest things, like a beautiful winter day, instantly turn around any day. It is those tiny moments of life that can make someone’s day special.
I visited Holy Redeemer’s third- through sixth-grade classrooms for a virtual farm tour and to make a yummy dairy treat. Along the virtual tour, we learned about all the different stops from milking, making a dairy cow’s ration and caring for calves. Together, we rounded out the tour with the milk leaving the farm to get made into all the delicious dairy products. Students got their own chance to make delicious homemade ice cream right in their classroom.
My next visit was to Jordan Elementary School’s first grade and third grade classrooms. The students were so excited to talk about life on the dairy farm and the importance of dairy foods in their diets. They loved hearing about how dairy farmers can monitor their cows’ health through activity monitors. From Jordan, Minnesota, I headed to Eden Prairie High School and their AgX 4-H Club. The AgX 4-H club was a new addition to the school this past fall and is open to all students interested in agriculture. Students got the chance to talk to me about growing up on a dairy farm and my journey to Princess Kay. Each student made their own butter and got to taste their creamy creations with Saltine crackers. Everyone gave their butter two thumbs up.
I enjoyed a fun day of dairy learning with Sunset Terrace Elementary School’s first graders. At each of the four classrooms, we talked about the many important jobs dairy farmers have so that tasty and nutritious dairy foods, from our cows, can get to them and their families. In between classrooms, I was able to spend time in the lunch room with the elementary students. The students thought it was such a good treat to have a real princess come visit them at school.
I met up with my trusty gopher friends, Fairborne and Fairchild, the Minnesota State Fair mascots, for the St. Paul Winter Carnival Grande Day Parade. Even though the weather was quite chilly, together we enjoyed the coldest celebration on earth waving to the crowds of smiling faces. At each of my appearances this month, I have made the day of so many people, especially the students and their classroom visits. Not only are the visits the highlight of the kids’ day, but they are also mine.
The curiosity flowing through the eyes of the students I interact with and the conversations we have are so fulfilling. I love to see a student’s face light up when they see me and as they ask, “Are you a real princess?”
It’s the little moments in people’s lives that I get to be a part of. The smiles, waves and hugs I receive and the tiny gestures to say hello and the thank-you drawings all make me feel special. It is so rewarding to share what I love, and I am excited to continue to interact with those around me. These are the moments I will forever hold close to my heart.
Princess Kay of the Milky Way Rachel Rynda serves as the Minnesota dairy community’s goodwill ambassador. Rynda grew up in Montgomery, Minnesota, on her family’s dairy farm. She attends University of Wisconsin-River Falls, studying agriculture business with a minor in dairy science, with plans to assist farmers with their finances. She enjoys participating in sports and singing in church with her dad.
Princess Kay is active doing school visits, representing dairy farmers at the Fuel Up To Play 60 activities in conjunction with the Minnesota Vikings and sharing the importance of dairy farming and dairy foods at appearances across Minnesota.

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