Meier excited to tell dairy's story as Princess Kay finalist
By Carol Stender
Date Modified: 09/10/2012 2:53 PM
WATKINS, Minn. — Kirsten Meier moves easily from one task to the next at Kipland Vale Dairy Farm near Cold Spring.
The Princess Kay of the Milky Way finalist has worked at the farm, owned by Jerry Bechtold and his sons, Roger and Mark, for five years. Meier feeds calves, milks and does field work. She's trimmed hooves and bred cows, skills she learned through Ridgewater College's dairy management program.
Meier grew up on a calf raising operation near Watkins owned by her parents, Vernon and Michelle. They had 200 hutches and eight out buildings where they cared for 1,000 calves from eight or nine dairy farms, she said.
When her parents sold the operation in 2005, the family took a year off. Meier. was lonesome for farming. When her sister mentioned an opening at Kipland Vale, Meier applied.
Through it all, Meier has found her niche in dairying. Meier plans to work as a herdsperson following college graduation. Someday she'd like to own her own operation.
She's been able to do many things through Stearns County's dairy princess program. She was a county ambassador and dairy princess for the past two years.
Meier admits she was shy when she took part in last year's Princess Kay program. Through the program's May Event workshops, Meier gained skills to tell the dairy industry's story.
With her new found confidence, she's telling others how dairy farmers care for their cows and the land and about nutritious dairy products.
At the May Event at St. Joseph, she joined other dairy princesses vying to be one of 12 Princess Kay finalists. She came prepared.
Her county princess coordinator gave Meier some tips. Because Meier was also busy working at Kipland Vale, the coordinator suggested she tape information and questions about the dairy industry to the tractor cab's windows.
"I considered it," Meier said. "But I thought the Bechtolds would really want their corn rows straight."
Instead, she practiced the speech she'd give to May Event judges as she planted. For 12 to 14 hours a day over four to five days, she worked on the speech.
She was excited instead of nervous when she met with the judges, she said. Then she gave her speech, telling them how she'd started her own dairy farm. Then she told them how she'd how reached a new level for her farm — level 32 on Farmtown on Facebook.
The judges laughed.