Three years ago, I was attending my first Minnesota junior all breeds convention and listening to Princess Kay speak. As I sat listening to Princess Kay share her story, I could tell she had genuine passion for both cows and Minnesota’s dairy community. Hearing Princess Kay share about her experiences growing up in and promoting the dairy industry inspired me to want to share my own dairy story. This year, I had the opportunity to stand in front of the same group and share my story at the junior all breeds convention. It was equally inspiring to be surrounded by 90 youth who all share the same love for cows and the dairy community.  
    During the awards banquet celebrating attendees’ achievements throughout the year, I spoke about my dairy-related activities, experiences and memories. But more importantly, I encouraged the youth in attendance to build upon their own dairy-related experiences. After spending the weekend with this inspiring and enthusiastic group, I am excited for the future of Minnesota’s dairy community. Although current industry trends might look dim, the long-term outlook is bright. The dairy community is made up of a truly amazing group of resilient, compassionate and hard-working people. These characteristics are at the heart of what dairy farmers do every day, and they have been passed down from generations of dairy farmers before us.
    The youth in attendance at convention all had their own unique backgrounds within the dairy industry. Some of them were the fifth generation on their family’s farm and others were starting herds of their own. Still, others don’t live on a farm at all but have found their passion for dairy by working for others or leasing animals to show. During convention, youth from all of these backgrounds came together to form quiz bowl teams, participate in activities and share their common interests. Without each individual’s point of view, these activities would not have been the same. Everyone was needed to make convention a success, just as everyone in the dairy community is needed to make it a success.
    By coming together, the dairy industry can continue to be successful, even during tough times. Maybe it won’t always look like success in the ways we expect; like high milk prices and booming exports. Instead, this success might be a renewed focus on dairy promotion or an opportunity for more conversations with consumers. It is never easy to see an industry that you love go through a hard time, but it is fulfilling to see the people in the industry banding together and making the best of a difficult situation. The welcoming and persistent atmosphere in the dairy community is one I have always admired and appreciated.
    No matter the milk price, the weather or the day of the year, dairy farmers work selflessly to care for their cows and land. Representing Minnesota’s dairy farmers makes me both incredibly proud and humbled. I always look forward to being able to advocate for dairy. During my classroom visits in March, I focused on all of the positive aspects that the dairy industry brings to our communities. At the farm show in New Ulm, Minn., I was able to have many one-on-one conversations with consumers. Some asked what they could do to support dairy farmers. I encouraged them to drink an extra glass of milk, try a new kind of yogurt or put an extra slice of cheese on their sandwich. Not only is the dairy community coming together, but those in our communities are willing to support us, too.
    Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Emily Annexstad, serves as the Minnesota dairy community’s goodwill ambassador. Throughout the year, Princess Kay helps people understand the dedication of dairy farmers to wholesome and nutritious food, and the way milk is produced. Princess Kay does many school presentations, represents dairy farmers at the Fuel Up To Play 60 events that are held in conjunction with the Minnesota Vikings, and is very active during June Dairy Month sharing the importance of dairy farming and dairy foods. Emily and her family own and operate a dairy farm in St. Peter, Minnesota. She is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota studying animal science and agricultural communications and marketing. She enjoys reading, playing and watching sports, and showing cattle.