Dairy has always given me so much joy. Before I could walk, my parents would put me in the stroller and wheel me to the alley of the barn where I sat as they milked our cows together with the polka music in the background.
Since then, adventure and curiosity drove my love for all things dairy.
I am honored to say that I am the newly crowned 69th Princess Kay of the Milky Way. I grew up on my family’s dairy farm in Le Sueur County outside of Montgomery, Minnesota. We milk our herd of Holstein cows in a tiestall barn. We raise our heifers as dairy replacements and raise our bull calves, with the addition of buying calves, as finishing steers. We also farm 400 acres of corn, soybean, alfalfa and wheat.
 As I grew up on the farm alongside my parents, Francis and Theresa, and my three brothers, Isaac, Noah and Levi, there was always something new to look forward to at chore time. Whether it was feeding calves with mom, riding in the wheelbarrow as Dad fed cows or playing with the kitties with my brothers, chore time on the farm quickly became my favorite time of the day. There was always a question to ask or a new chore to learn on the farm. Working and growing together as a family on the farm has given me all that I have. Even now, chore time is the highlight of my day. When I’m at school, I look forward to coming home to share college stories in the barn as the polka music plays while we milk together.
 As a little girl, I looked up to the beautiful dairy princesses I would see throughout the year at parades, the county fair and of course the dairy banquet when they would be crowned with sparkly tiaras and cow-print sashes. In moments like those, I aspired to follow in these ladies’ footsteps. Becoming Princess Kay was a dream I could never have imagined would come true.
When I was just a little girl, around 4 or 5, my dad would take me out on the hay wagon in summertime when we would make small square alfalfa bales. After a couple of rows of bales were stacked five high, Dad would boost me up to the top and tell me to wave to the cars passing us as they drove down the road. “Wave like Princess Kay,” he would say once I got positioned on top of the bales. I would practice my princess wave as the tractor pulled the baler down the windrows of alfalfa. In fifth grade, I took my first step toward my journey to the 69th Princess Kay of the Milky Way when I started as a Scott-Le Sueur County Milk Maid. I advanced through the program to become an ambassador and then a dairy princess in 2020. After a span of 10 years advocating as a county dairy ambassador, I have been given the greatest gif, and my biggest dream came true when I was crowned Princess Kay.
I am beginning my second year at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls where I am majoring in agricultural business with a minor in dairy science. I am active in dairy club, as the year book manager, and Agricultural Business and Marketing Society, as the secretary. I play all kinds of intramural sports too.
I am excited to be serving as Minnesota dairy farmers’ goodwill ambassador for this year. I cannot wait to travel across the great state of Minnesota and meet so many amazing individuals while sharing the good story of dairy farmers and all the wonderful things they provide our world. As my reign gets underway, I am excited for the connection and memories to fill my year as the 69th Princess Kay of the Milky Way.
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. In her spare time, 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.