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McWilliam excited to represent dairy farmers

By Carol Stender
cstender@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 08/30/2013 12:50 PM

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WINGER, Minn. — MarJenna McWilliam, of Winger, only has four free days this summer, but the East Polk County dairy princess and Princess Kay of the Milky Way finalist isn't complaining.

In fact, she's thrilled to have dairy promotion appearances mixed in with two summer jobs.

"Being a dairy princess and vying for Princess Kay means so much to me that I will give up my free time to go to parades and events," she said. "It's just great that I get to talk to others about the dairy industry."

East Polk County has neither a princess coordinator nor coronation ceremony. It's been some time since the county had a dairy princess. She's been told it's been 40 years since East Polk had a finalist for the Princess Kay crown.

McWilliam said there are 20 dairy farms in the county that range in diversity from Amish dairies to farms that use robotic milkers.

She approached the county's ADA board last year. Being a dairy princess has long been McWilliam's dream.

"I've always gone to the state fair and seen those girls in their pretty dresses take part in parades," she said. "Then, they would change into jeans and cowboy boots and show cattle. I've always wanted to do that."

Her father, Bruce, was excited for her, she said.

"I never thought I would make it this far," she said with a smile.

Her speech at the May Event focused on lactose intolerance, something both she and her father experience. In her message, she described her delight at the number of lactose-free dairy products that are on the market.

Some may turn to soy milk products, but those lack the nine essential nutrients that already are found in milk, she said.

The McWilliam farm is a third generation operation operated by her parents, Bruce and LaVonne. Bruce works for two school districts, milks cows and handles the farm's 40 acres. He's been milking cows for 60 years, and recalls milking his first cows by hand, McWilliam said.

Guernsey's have been a mainstay of the dairy, but the McWilliams also have had many of dairy's five major breeds.

The herd has been downsized, but there are plans to build the numbers back as McWilliam's sister, Marissa, takes over the farm.

McWilliam showed 4-H dairy cattle and often attended three to four shows per year.

She also took part in the 4-H fashion revue, clothing construction, foods and nutrition, fine arts and photography projects.

At the University of Minnesota -- Crookston, she worked with FFA'ers who used her heifers as they practiced for competitions.

The 20-year-old will be a junior at North Dakota State University majoring in English education with a language emphasis in Norwegian.

She tells her fellow students about her role as a dairy princess and about the Princess Kay program.

"This has been one of my life's goals," she said about being a dairy princess. "This is something that I have dreamed about since I was a little girl.''