Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. It is a time where we have the opportunity to show extra appreciation for the people in our lives we love and cherish. Growing up, I loved the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. I would go to the store and pick out the perfect treat for my classmates and write their name on the small cards. I would then spend hours decorating a box that my classmates would soon fill with cards and goodies. We were all filled with excitement as we spent the rest of the afternoon opening our boxes and seeing all of the love our classmates had shown one another with our kind notes and treats. These memories always remind me how simple it can be to show love to others and how much our actions can bring happiness to them.
    Not only is it important for us to love those around us, but we should also love the things we do. When people are passionate about something, you can truly see how much they love what they are doing or talking about. In the interactions I have with others in my role as Princess Kay of the Milky Way, my favorite message to share is how much dairy farmers care about their animals, land and resources because of the love and passion they have for their jobs. I love sharing the stories of the incredible Minnesota dairy farmers I represent and highlighting the love we all share for the dairy industry. I encourage you to share your love for dairy with the people you meet and interact with.
    To build a connection with those we interact with, I always come back to the phrase, “Dairy is at the heart of what you love.” Many people do not realize how much dairy is present in their everyday lives. It is present in some of their favorite foods and recipes, and dairy can make for the best memories. One of my favorite treats growing up was created with only three simple ingredients. When my great aunt came to babysit, she would always ask for milk, vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. Within minutes, I was presented with one of her specialty chocolate milkshakes.
    I am sure many of you also have great stories and memories from your childhood that were made possible thanks to the presence of dairy. I hope when I tell stories similar to this with others, they recognize how dairy is present in the things they love. Whether it is on their slice of pizza, in their gooey mac and cheese or a bowl of delicious ice cream, people around us are experiencing the greatness of real dairy.
    This past month, I also had another amazing opportunity to share my love for dairy. I attended the virtual celebration of the 2020 Fuel Up to Play 60 Hometown Grant Award. This year’s recipient was Brooklyn Middle School. The Hometown Grant program provides a local school or district with $10,000 to help reinforce health and physical activity programming within its schools. This is made possible by the collaboration efforts of Midwest Dairy, the NFL, the Minnesota Vikings and Fuel Up to Play 60. With this grant, they plan to introduce a new breakfast grab and go program that will be filled with delicious dairy foods to help students start their day off right. I shared with the students the life of a dairy farmer and how beneficial dairy can be to their diets. On the call, we were also joined by Minnesota Vikings legend Greg Coleman who shared incredible words of wisdom and his support of Minnesota dairy farmers.
    In the coming months, I will continue to share my love and passion for dairy through events and interactions. As we approach Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to show extra love for those around you and pour your passion into the things you love to do.
    Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Brenna Connelly 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.
Brenna grew up in Byron, MN working on her cousin’s dairy farm. She is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities, studying agricultural education and animal science. When she is not showing cattle or participating in dairy judging, she loves to read and travel.