WACONIA, Minn. – When Laura Grimm is at college, she is one of only a few she knows who grew up on a dairy farm.
    “I have a lot of conversations with strangers, friends and professors about living on a dairy farm, what it’s like and all the hard work farmers put in,” said Grimm, who will be a senior at Minnesota State University-Moorhead this fall majoring in English and mass communications with a minor in public relations along with certificates in publishing and professional writing. “Of course, I always talk about the nutritional aspects of dairy, too. When we’re doing introductions in class or meeting people for the first time, I usually mention I’m a dairy farm kid. It’s a fun fact to say hey guess what, I have cows.”
    The 20-year-old is also able to share her love of dairy with others as one of the 12 Princess Kay of the Milky Way finalists. Grimm, who represents Carver County, is the daughter of Joel and Barb Grimm, who milk 40 cows near Waconia, Minn.
    “The barn has been my second home,” Grimm said about her upbringing. “A lot of times I would follow my parents in the barn when they would milk and hang out there. I would sometimes fall asleep in the stalls.”
    As she grew older, she gained more responsibilities ranging from feeding calves, milking, unloading hay and feeding the milking herd. No job is off limits.
    “My mom also says I’m the sanitation supervisor of the gutter,” Grimm said.
    During three out of the past four years, Grimm has served as a dairy princess in her county.
    “It’s just incredible being able to talk to people about what it’s like growing up in this lifestyle because it’s not as common as it used to be,” she said. “So, everyone always has questions, and people get excited when they find out I’m from a farm. It’s incredible being able to talk about that with people.”
    Being a county dairy princess and a Princess Kay finalist have both been dreams for Grimm.
    “My mom has been involved with the county American Dairy Association and princess committee since I was a baby, so I grew up going to parades, working in the dairy booth and watching the dairy princesses,” she said. “I always knew I wanted to be like them, wanted to share my story with everyone I meet just like they were doing.”
    In the past 20 years, Carver County has also had several young women who have been one of the 12 finalists for Princess Kay of the Milky Way.
    “So, I grew up going to coronation,” Grimm said. “I always thought it would be great being able to stand up on that stage.”
    In 2012, one of the 12 on the stage was Grimm’s sister, Valerie.
    “That was very exciting,” she said. “I got to hear all the stories she had from her time at the state fair.”
    Now that Grimm is in the same position, she feels fortunate for an opportunity to share dairy messages with others; however, there is one message she is passionate about telling others.
    “Dairy farmers genuinely care – about our land, our animals and the milk we’re producing because we want to make sure everyone is eating healthy food,” Grimm said.
    This includes getting three servings of dairy each day.
    “We also want to be sure that everyone knows we’re treating our animals with so much care because every decision we make is based on what’s best for our animals,” she said.
    She also has a favorite dairy fact.
    “Ninety-seven percent of dairy farms are family farms,” Grimm said. “For me, farming is all about family. Our farm has been in the family for several generations, my mom came from a dairy farm, a lot of my cousins are dairy farmers and the dairy community has basically been my family, even people I’m not related to. There are so many uncles and aunts who aren’t blood relatives, but I consider them family.”
    These family members – blood-related or not – are why Grimm likes promoting dairy. So is being one of few people who are able to grow up in the lifestyle.
    “I like to think I can make a difference as a dairy princess and as a dairy advocate,” Grimm said. “I don’t need a crown to be representing the dairy community, but it is a benefit to have the crown.”