While pumpkin yogurt and salted caramel coffee creamer are standards in the fall season, one autumn event will always have a special place in my heart. The changing of the leaves is a gorgeous ending to a vibrant summer, sharing a warm and tasteful array of colors I have always admired. Quite similar to the changing of the leaves is fall on the farm. We transition from a season of green growth to a chilly and anticipated harvest. Though it only lasts a few weeks, it stands out in our minds as one of the most important seasons we work through as dairy farmers.
    At this time of year, my drive home from South Dakota State University has the best scenery. From traffic consisting of more tractors than cars, to illuminated late-night farm scenes formed by tractors hard at work in the field, I am reminded of how great this fall season can be, especially on the farm. Much like the changing of the leaves, fall brings warmth as we admire the bounties before us. After a summer of countless hours, hard work, hope and love, we finally catch a glimpse of our success as farmers. Amidst these long days and annual responsibilities, I would like to say thank you for what you do.
    About a month ago, a change happened in my own life. Being crowned as the 65th Princess Kay of the Milky Way opened my eyes to the warm love and support of my family within the dairy community, not to mention the array of color and opportunity set before me this year. Throughout this exciting change, I often find myself reflecting on the pieces of my life that have brought me to this time of achieving a lifelong goal and dream.
    My love for cows, family and the farm was sparked at a young age when I spent time helping on my uncle’s farm down the road. It was moments on the farm that made me realize how welcome I was in the dairy community, and moments showing cattle with my cousins that proved my love for sharing my family’s farm with those around me. This passion for advocacy has not wavered and is a driving force in my decision to pursue a career in agricultural education. Today, I have worked with three dairy farms, which has expanded my appreciation and respect for variety and teamwork within the dairy community.
    Upon being crowned Princess Kay, the first words out of my mouth were, “I feel blessed.” From the time I was little, my faith has driven me to pursue greatness and love. I have so much thanks to give to my dad, mom and two sisters for this foundation in faith and their endless examples of love and support upon this journey.
    Just as we set goals for higher yields in the fall season, I have taken the change in seasons to develop goals for my year as Princess Kay.
    From a young age, I have felt at home in dairy, and I hope that throughout this year, I can welcome others into our community. As the dairy community grows and changes, it is more important than ever to include consumers of all ages on our dairy team. Over the next year, I am excited to be involved in consumer-based events, specifically with parent groups and school visits.
    At the Minnesota State Fair, I was able to share the values, experiences and goals of Minnesota dairy farmers. I enjoyed meeting countless consumers and having heart-filled conversations with dairy farmers from Minnesota, the surrounding states and even Norway and France. While I engage in conversations with students, consumers, producers and more, I look forward to sharing the common goals we have in providing healthy and sustainable foods that add to our experiences, no matter where we sit on the dairy team. If there is an opportunity for me to expand dairy outreach or share our goals with others, I would encourage you to request my participation through www.midwestdairy.com/schools-and-communities/dairy-princess/princess-kay-of-the-milky-way/.
    To continue growing the outreach of Princess Kay, I hope to build upon our existing social media platforms through new content based on stories, recipes and smiles founded in dairy. I would encourage you to promote Princess Kay of the Milky Way in your network by connecting with the Princess Kay of the Milky Way Facebook and Instagram pages. Together, we can work to promote Minnesota dairy through your goodwill ambassador.
    Without a doubt, fall is my favorite season. The pumpkin flavors and beautiful colors are remarkable. Better than any of that, however, is the symbolic change in leaves, which is significant to our lifestyle as dairy farmers. Each fall, we see changes in our farms and even personal lives that influence the year ahead. Thank you for being a part of my recent change and allowing me to serve on your behalf in the coming year. I look forward to meeting you, hearing your farm story and could not be happier to represent Minnesota dairy farmers this coming year as the 65th Princess Kay of the Milky Way.
    Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Rebekka Paskewitz, 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. Rebekka grew up in Browerville, Minn., working on several dairy farms including her uncle’s farms. Rebekka finds joy in sharing the story and future of dairy with others through community outreach and media platforms. She is a junior at South Dakota State University studying Agricultural Education with minors in Animal Science and Social Media. At school she is very involved with the College of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences Prexy Council, Sigma Alpha Sorority, Little International, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and Dairy Club. She also enjoys showing and raising cattle, mentoring youth in 4-H and FFA, road trips, hunting, fishing, tractor pulls, and watching the Vikings with Dad.