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Blackwelder excited to share dairy knowledge

By Carol Stender

Date Modified: 08/30/2013 1:19 PM

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CHOKIO, Minn. — Big Stone County Dairy Princess Katelyn Blackwelder knows the dairy farms in her county well.

There are, after all, only three.

Blackwelder, one of 12 finalists for Princess Kay of the Milky Way, is excited for the opportunity to tell others about dairy.

"There are some great opportunities to promote dairy and recognize the farmers in the state," she said. "I love having that opportunity to share that story."

Blackwelder lives on the family farm near Chokio with her parents, Mark and Amy, and brothers, Brett and Kent. They milk 300 cows three times a day and raise row crops, wheat and alfalfa on 1,750 acres.

After graduating from Chokio-Alberta Public School, Blackwelder attended one year at the University of Minnesota Morris before transferring to North Dakota State University. She's majoring in ag communications and public relations with a minor in animal science.

She helps on the farm during summer break. Her favorite job is feeding calves and vaccinating cattle.

Blackwelder always knew she would be a Big Stone dairy princess, but 10 years ago she wasn't so enthused until her family went to see 50 dairy princesses at an event. The fourth grader's interest in thes program changed when she saw Princess Kay Tai Vanderkooi.

"I didn't want to go at first, but when I saw her, I said, "Yes. I want to do this. This is cool. I want to be like her.'"

She decided to make that little girl dream come true last year and took part in the dairy princess contest. A woman who'd been a dairy princess 10 years ago helped Blackwelder prepare.

Blackwelder was working in the career services department at UMM when one of the career counselors offered to help her prepare for the contest interview. The experience gained during last year's program helped, she said.

She smiles recalling the May Event banquet where the finalists were announced. Her mom was ready with her cell phone to text the news. Another family from the county was following the event on Facebook.

It is exciting to be one of the 12 finalists, she said.

At the May Event, she focused her speech and comments on milk, a healthy drink. She tied together the message of healthy people and healthy communities to wise choices like milk over pop.

At the Minnesota State Fair last year, she made a poster detailing the complex sugars in popular drinks from Gatorade to Coke, coffee and milk.

"I just don't drink pop anymore," she said. "It's an easy switch especially when you look at how much sugar there is in pop."

When she delivers the message, she also points out the dairy farmers' work to care for their cattle and to produce a quality, nutritious product.

It's a message she's anxious to deliver throughout the state.