As harvest begins to wrap up, there is a sense of accomplishment for the countless hours spent in the field as we work for next year’s reserve of feed and bedding for our cows. There is never a year on the farm that goes perfectly according to plan, but together, we face the year we have before us. Despite any year, dairy farmers look past the dissatisfaction of the growing season and are thankful for the bounty provided to them throughout the harvest season.
Throughout my life, there has been so much to be thankful for. Every step or setback has led me to who I am today. A large portion of my self-development and personal growth is credited to the outstanding opportunities and leadership found within FFA. As I received my American Degree at the 95th National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana, I am grateful for my advisors, friends and mentors who pushed me out of my comfort zone to face and overcome challenges. This convention marked four years since my dairy judging team competed at the national FFA convention and the moment I saw my potential to become a leader. Since then, I have been blessed with so many wonderful experiences in and out of FFA to pave myself as a leader and inspire those around me.
In October, I had multiple events on the road as Princess Kay to be thankful for. I had the pleasure of joining Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom for a virtual book reading for farm-to-school book week. Over 40 classrooms attended the virtual book reading as I read “Tales of the Dairy Godmother: Chuck’s Ice Cream Wish.” Throughout the story, Chuck and the students learned what farmers do all 365 days of the year to care for their cows so we all can enjoy the wonderful benefits of dairy. After the story, students asked questions about me, my farm and my role as Princess Kay. No matter if the question was what my favorite cow’s name is, my favorite color or my favorite chore on the farm, each student approached the screen to ask me a question with curiosity and excitement. My next event was a Halloween and dairy family night at Chick-fil-A in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Families came to enjoy a meal in their Halloween costumes, meet Rose, the 1-month-old Jersey calf, and enjoy dairy fun activities. More than 150 free kids meals served with milk were given to youth participants of the night.
Spring Creek Elementary School in Northfield, Minnesota, invited me for a special farm-to-school lunch. The meal served that day for lunch was all produced by local farmers in the Northfield area. Even the milk served at lunch came only a short way to the school from Hastings Creamery. Throughout lunch, I meandered around the cafeteria to visit with students eating their lunch and shared with them the benefits of eating healthy, nutritious and local foods, including dairy foods. I encouraged all students to drink every last sip of their milk to get every last drop of nutrients their bodies need to fuel them throughout the rest of their school day. My favorite part of the day was the bright, smiling faces I received after asking if I could sit in an open spot while joining students for their lunch.
While on the road back from Indianapolis, I reflected on how lucky I have been, especially this year, as I represent you all as Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Sometimes it is easy to forget just how good we have it. Each year, we face challenges on the farm. Some days may not go as planned for us, and perhaps it leads us to concentrate on the bad, the hardship or the stress before us. It takes a minute to take a step back, remind ourselves to be grateful for what is in front of us and to clearly see the blessings along the road no matter what we may face.
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.