Sixth generation farmer earns title of Dodge County Dairy Princess
Ever since she was little, Val Sauder has been attending American Dairy Association banquets and has seen numerous girls crowned as a Dodge County Dairy Princess.
After dreaming of one day being a dairy princess herself, that dream became a reality this year as she was crowned as a Dodge County Dairy Princess along with Katrina Thoe.
“I've been attending dairy princess banquets for most of my life, so I dreamed to someday serve in this position. My mother and my seven older cousins all were part of the program, and at first, I just couldn't wait to follow in their footsteps,” Sauder said.
As she grew up, Sauder explained that she gained a better understanding of what it means to be a dairy princess and how truly important the dairy community is for society.
“As I grew older, I realized why this position is so important to our farmers. As a dairy princess, I get to represent and promote the community I love by connecting with people, and the crown that I wear helps me do that! When someone asks how I became a princess, I get to share about my love for dairy cows, how hard farm families like mine work every day to put a glass of milk on their table, and how much we care about our animals and the safety of the product we produce.,” Sauder said. “My experience growing up on a farm gives me the credibility to answer their questions relating to how we farm and how milk is produced, and I love having the opportunity to shed light on a topic that many people don't have first-hand experience with.”
Sauder has certainly had her share of experience growing up in the dairy community, as she is a member of a six generation farm.
“I'm a member of the sixth generation to farm at Pine-Shelter Farms in Pine Island, where we milk about 500 registered Holstein cows. I started following my uncles around the farm and 'helping' almost as soon as I could walk, and I took my first lap in the show arena at the age of three,” Sauder said.
Sauder said that advocating for dairy and agriculture in general is something she has always been passionate about.
“Advocating for dairy and agriculture has been a passion of mine for many years, and I've found opportunities to do that through volunteering in the MOO! Booth and CHS Miracle of Birth Center at the Minnesota State Fair, participating in dairy-related events through FFA and 4-H, and talking about agriculture whenever I get the chance. My responsibilities around the farm may have grown since I was toddling around the barn, but so has my passion for agriculture and dairy cattle,” Sauder said.
Aside from being a dairy princess, Sauder is also continuing to help the dairy and agriculture community by pursuing a degree in agriculture.
“This passion has brought me to double major in Agricultural Education and Agricultural Communication & Marketing at the University of Minnesota, after which I hope to have a career in advocating agriculture to the general public. These experiences helped prepare me for the role of a dairy princess, and to be able to communicate about dairy farming to others.”
For Sauder, she explained that being able to grow up on a farm is something that has benefited her in many ways.
“Growing up on a farm benefited me in more ways than I can explain. The practical skills I gained and the knowledge I learned this way have impacted me so much; however, what I love most about the dairy community is the people I have met,” Sauder said. “Dairy farmers are some of the most dedicated people you have ever seen, and the supportive friendships I have built through my years of exhibiting and involvement in youth organizations have shaped my passions and skills to make me who I am today.”
Sauder said that her goal as a dairy princess this year is to be an advocate for dairy farms and farmers, something that is extremely important, she said.
“As a dairy princess this year my goal is to connect people, products, and producers. My fellow princess, Katrina Thoe, and I will be doing that all year long as we attend events and promotions, lead workshops in classrooms, and promote the dairy community wherever we go,” Sauder said. “Dairy farmers work hard every day to care for their cows so they can produce nutritious milk for your family, and I am thrilled to be able to share this message in Dodge County all year long,” she added.