The Farmer Logo

Princess Kay finalists named

Minnesota Minute: In this dairy version of the Minnesota Minute, 10 Princess Kay of the Milky Way finalists are named; Corey Scott named CEO of Midwest Dairy; dairy farms recognized for superior cow care.

June 18, 2024

4 Min Read
Fair attendees observce as a Princess Kay candidate has her likeness carved in butter
IMMORTALIZED IN BUTTER: Each of the Princess Kay finalists will have their likeness carved into a block of butter during the Minnesota State Fair, which is always a popular fair site to visit. Minnesota State Fair

Ten young women will vie for the crown to be the 71st Princess Kay of the Milky Way after being named finalists in May.

The annual May Leadership Event weekend included opportunities for networking, leadership workshops, and a chance to compete for a finalist spot for Princess Kay of the Milky Way for young women with a passion for dairy. This year’s theme, “Make it Matter. Make it Happen,” provided attendees with confidence in their leadership skills and knowledge through various inspiring and educational sessions.

Dave Schwartz, Princess Committee chair and a Minnesota dairy farmer, says, “As a lifelong dairy promoter, this program is one of my favorites and most cherished. Seeing these young women share their excitement for dairy assures me the future of the dairy industry is bright.”

The competition

Each princess submitted an application, participated in a professional interview, prepared and delivered a speech and participated in a mock media interview. Princess Kay candidates are judged on their general knowledge of the dairy industry, communication skills and enthusiasm for promoting dairy.

These 10 finalists will compete for the title of Minnesota’s 71st Princess Kay of the Milky Way in late-August.

This year’s finalists are:

  • Selena Corona of St. Joseph, daughter of Kelly Corona and Ross Lemke and Steve Corona, represents Stearns County

  • Paige Gerads of Albany, daughter of Becky and Jamie Gerads, represents Morrison County

  • Katie Ketchum of Altura, daughter of Mary and Mike Ketchum, represents Winona County

  • Mackenzie Moline of St. Peter, daughter of Gail and Rob Moline, represents Nicollet County

  • Afton Nelson of Owatonna, daughter of Stacy and Tim Nelson, represents Steele County

  • Miranda Schroeder of Caledonia, daughter of Sheila and Daniel Schroeder, represents Houston County

  • Rachel Visser of Hutchinson, daughter of Shannon and Barry Visser, represents McLeod County

  • Katelyn Welgraven of Ruthton, daughter of Jeanna and Keith Welgraven represents Pipestone County

  • Grace Woitalla of Avon, daughter of Patty and Keith Woitalla, represents Stearns County

  • McKenna Wright of Hutchinson, daughter of Heather and Paul Wright, represents McLeod County

These 10 young women will have their respective likenesses carved in butter during the 2024 Minnesota State Fair.

Midwest Dairy sponsors the Princess Kay of the Milky Way program, which is funded by dairy farmers through their promotion checkoff.

Scott leads Midwest Dairy

Midwest Dairy, the checkoff organization representing over 4,000 dairy farmers in a 10-state region, officially announced that Corey Scott of Marine on Saint Croix, Minn., has been named its new CEO. Scott is an accomplished dairy leader with more than 15 years of food and agriculture experience. 

Scott began her tenure at Midwest Dairy on March 13, and will be transitioning from retiring CEO Molly Pelzer, who announced her departure last fall.

“I am excited for this new chapter in Midwest Dairy’s long history of excellent CEO leaders,” says Charles Krause, Midwest Dairy chairman. “I look forward to working with Corey on the many opportunities we have to serve our family dairy farms.”

Before joining Midwest Dairy, Scott served as the vice president of sales and marketing for Athian and held several leadership positions for more than 15 years with Land O’Lakes and its sustainability division, Truterra LLC.

Scott received her executive MBA and undergraduate degrees from the University of Minnesota and the Carlson School of Business. In 2023, she was selected as one of GreenBiz’s 12 Women Cultivating Sustainable Food Systems. She earned a U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award for her work in reducing dairy’s overall environmental footprint. 

“I am honored to serve as CEO for Midwest Dairy and work on behalf of dairy farmers across our 10-state region,” Scott says. “I have worked with dairy farmers throughout my career and am always struck by the passion they show for their cows, the environment and our communities. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to lead such a respected organization and support the hard work of both staff and farmers.”

Dairy farms recognized for superior cow care

Ninety Minnesota dairy herds were recognized for their superior herd management skills by achieving an average somatic cell count of under 100,000. SCC is a key indicator of milk quality — a lower SCC count is better for cheese production and offers a longer shelf life for bottled milk.

“We applaud these farmers’ efforts to maintain high milk-quality standards, especially in the face of new and ongoing challenges,” says Thom Petersen, Minnesota Agriculture commissioner. “Their success is a testament to these farms’ resilience, and a major accomplishment.”

Although somatic cells occur naturally and are not a food safety concern, dairy farmers monitor them because they can be used as a measure of the health of their cows. Processors also pay a premium for milk with low counts. A farmer whose herd has a very low count can receive a higher price per hundredweight compared to a farmer whose herd average is high.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture and University of Minnesota dairy experts have worked with the state’s dairy farmers for 20 years to lower SCCs. When the initiative began in 2003, the herds honored that year included those with SCC averages as high as 144,000, compared to the current goal of obtaining a SCC under 100,000.

Visit the MDA website to see the SCC list of Minnesota dairy farms. Producers on the list were nominated by their dairy plants.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like