Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

Lee is Princess Kay finalist

By Janet Kubat Willette
jkubat@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 08/30/2013 1:30 PM

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LAKE CITY, Minn. — It all started with a phone call.

Alydia Lee, 21, grew up on a Lake City dairy farm but wasn't aware of the Wabasha County Dairy Princess program.

"I didn't know what a butterhead was," she said.

Earlier this year, Lee received a phone call from the county's dairy princess program coordinator asking her to consider running. She hung up the phone and googled the dairy princess program and Princess Kay of the Milky Way.

Lee discovered the program's focus on speaking and visiting classrooms fit her interests.

She is a student at Martin Luther College in New Ulm and is working toward her bachelor's degree in early childhood education.

"I know their limits. ... I know their attention span," Lee said of preschool children. She has one semester of classroom training left and a semester of student teaching.

Lee was never in 4-H nor FFA. She'd seen dairy princesses in parades, but nobody ever asked her to run. She figured this would be her one and only chance because she hopes to go to Russia after graduation next year.

Her parents, Jeff and Ruth, encouraged her to run. She was named one of the top three candidates at the county banquet at Millville in March and advanced to the May event where women from across the state compete to be one of 12 Princess Kay finalists. Lee knew her strengths and weaknesses from the county judging and worked on those before the May event.

She felt confident after the Princess Kay judging.

She didn't have to wait long to find out if she was a finalist. She was the first one announced.

"I knew it was me," Lee said.

Most contestants are just out of high school, she said. The announcer went on to say the candidate not only lives on a dairy farm, she also works on one while away at college. She became an emergency medical technician last summer, which also set her apart.

Lee had doubted herself the evening before, calling her parents and telling them not to get their hopes up.

Now, Lee is reveling in being a dairy princess. She went in princess dress to the learning center where she works, giving a dairy promotion presentation. She visited the Plainview-Elgin-Millville school-age child care program to talk about the importance of dairy products and to share a dairy snack. She takes in a sample of milk replacer and there's always the little boy who asks if he can eat it, she said.

Devoting herself to dairy promotion in Wabasha County is the perfect way to prepare should she become Princess Kay, Lee said.

Her appreciation for the program has grown.

She's putting her social media skills to work for dairy promotion, posting updates on the Wabasha County ADA Facebook page. She hopes to feature a farm of the week on a blog with a link to Facebook.

She's glad she waited to run until she was older. She said she feels more comfortable as a spokeswoman for the county's dairy industry than she would have just out of high school.

She has been an informal spokeswoman for years, bringing friends home from college to visit her family farm. Her dad is good at explaining both the technical and common reason why they do things, Lee said.

She is able to do most everything on the farm, from milking and chores to scraping the barn, mixing feed and hauling manure. She's on the tractor during hay season. Whenever she's home, her dad puts her to work.

The family milks 100 Holsteins in a single 10 parlor. They raise their own youngstock and sell bull calves.