It's an honor for Hageman to represent Iowa dairy farmers
By Jean Caspers-Simmet
Date Modified: 08/15/2013 12:40 PM
DECORAH —Karla Hageman remembers seeing dairy princesses when she was a little girl.
"I saw how much fun they were having and how much they loved being dairy princesses, and I wanted to do that," Hageman said.
The 18-year-old was Iowa Guernsey Princess in 2011 and an alternate Winneshiek County Dairy Princess in 2012. Last August she was crowned alternate Iowa Dairy Princess at the Iowa State Fair.
Her Winneshiek County duties were special because Cassidy Buddenberg was also an alternate Dairy Princess and Mariah Schmitt was Dairy Princess. The three are friends, classmates and dairy judging teammates.
Hageman, her parents, Alan and Ruth, and her brother, Scott, milk 125 registered Holsteins with two Lely robots. Hageman's 12 Guernseys and a Holstein are also in the herd.
It's been about two years since the Hagemans built a barn and installed robotic milkers.
"Having the robots has made it more convenient when my mom and I have to leave to go to dairy promotions," Hageman said. "We had to go to a dairy banquet in Hull, which is five hours away, and we could leave and Dad and Scott could run things at home."
Before the robots, it took all four family members to get the milking done twice each day.
Hageman bought her first Guernsey in 2006 and the breed became her 4-H and FFA projects.
"At our county fair, no one showed Guernseys, and I thought, 'Why not show Guernseys,' " Hageman said. "My grandma Pat Hageman came from a Guernsey farm growing up. I like the personality of my Guernseys. They have the ability to produce milk with higher components."
She cares for calves mornings and nights and cleans free-stalls, milks cows, keeps herd records and does registrations.
Hageman has enjoyed her year as alternate princess.
"It's been an amazing opportunity to represent all the dairy farmers across the state," Hageman said. "It's a huge honor."
She spoke to fourth graders at the National Cattle Congress in Waterloo in September. She gave a presentation at the Iowa Junior Holstein Convention last winter, and from February to April she and Iowa Dairy Princess Logan Worden of Oelwein divided up appearances at county dairy banquets.
"My favorite promotions are the farm tours and farm visits," Hageman said. "People who didn't grow up on a farm can come out and visit and see how cows are milked and all the hard work that goes into producing their milk."
This week, Hageman and Worden helped distribute 6,000 cartons of chocolate milk to riders in the Great Bike Ride Across Iowa at Justin Rowe's farm near Dallas Center.
Hageman and Worden will help with this year's Iowa Dairy Princess Pageant in August, and they have a full slate of dairy activities at the Iowa State Fair. Their reign ends Sept. 1.
Hageman graduated from South Winneshiek High School this spring and will attend Iowa State University this fall majoring in dairy science and biology. She wants to work with dairy genetics and reproduction.
Hageman said she looks up to past dairy princesses and also considers her parents to be mentors.
"They have supported me in everything I've done to get to be a dairy princess," Hageman said.