The first snowflakes have dusted the ground! While there is no set date for when this day arrives, it is something every Minnesotan looks to with mixed feelings. Snow for some may mean the arrival of ice fishing, snowmobiling, sledding, and of course the snowball fights. However, snow also means chilly temperatures, an early sunset, and icy roads. Perhaps the best part of snow- it means the business of the holiday season is quickly approaching. Thanksgiving, holiday shopping, and the highly anticipated time-off from school all add to the excitement of the first snow. Family gatherings are the part I most look forward to as the winter season begins. The annual Thanksgiving meal provides the chance to see relatives who live hundreds of miles away as well as have my fair share of turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and of course cheesy potatoes! During these family gatherings, usually between the downs of the football game, gives us a time to reflect on our lives. My family never fails to bring up at least ten embarrassing stories that tends to make the time spent together even better.
I have been settling in well here at the University of Minnesota. I have begun to become more involved in students groups such as the Gopher Dairy Club, and have had the opportunity to partake in the University's Homecoming Parade as Princess Kay. Class loads are increasing as the semester goes on leading to lots of learning.
I have also been staying busy as Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Over the past month I have had the opportunity to visit two different schools. My first visit was the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School where I was able to talk to two classes of ninth grade agriculture students about the importance of dairy in Minnesota. The students had been learning about agriculture commodities in Minnesota and were very curious about the breakdown of dairy throughout the state. While none of the students in the class lived on dairy farms, a large number of them had connections to other farms, so we were able to compare the similarities and the differences between farm types. My second classroom visit this past month was at Buffalo Middle School. I was honored to have been joined by Charles Krause, a dairy farmer from Buffalo. We were able to talk to three 7th grade Family and Consumer Science (FACS) classes about the importance of dairy in the everyday diet. Many of the students were surprised to find how the milk not only helps bones, but it also strengthens muscles. As many of the students were unfamiliar with farming, we showed pictures of my farm. This led to questions from the students, including what the cattle ate, what the differences between organic and conventional foods are, and what are the difference between cows, heifers, steers, and bulls. To finish off the class period, the students learned how to make an easy dairy snack of strawberry smoothies.
In the coming weeks, I will yet again have the chance to demonstrate my cooking skills as I make a guest appearance on KARE 11 News. I am looking forward to sharing with viewers just how easy it is to incorporate dairy into holiday dishes while preparing Mozzarella Pepper Salsa, Crunchy Munchy Snack Mix, and Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Yogurt Dip- three of my favorite appetizers!
In December, I will be working with Viktor the Viking and Fuel Up to Play 60 student and program leaders from around the state. Together, we will be discussing the importance of living a healthy lifestyle not only by exercising, but by eating right as well. I am very excited to be able to share just how important dairy is in our diets, as well as sharing the stories from dairy farmers.
I would like to say thank you to all the dairy farmers who continue to work as the weather gets colder and the snow begins to pile up. Without the dedication and passion each of you hold for dairy, we would not have such a wholesome and nutritious glass of milk to go with the holiday turkey! I hope everyone has safe travels this holiday season, and may your holidays be filled with joy!