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DAIRY ST R Special Edition

Celebrating 59 Years of South Dakota Dairy Princesses

A year of fun and growth

Souza reflects on her year as South Dakota Dairy Princess BY JERRY NELSON Staff writer


Audrey Souza is the 58th South Dakota Dairy Princess. Her family milks 3,000 Jerseys near Milbank, S.D. The new South Dakota Dairy Princess will be crowned on March 25 during the Welcome Reception at the Central Plains Dairy Expo in Sioux Falls, S.D.


Stephanie Nussbaum Garretson

MILBANK, S.D. – This past year seems to have disappeared in a flash for Audrey Souza. “I don’t know where the time went,” she said. “It went by so quickly.” Souza was crowned as South Dakota’s 58th Dairy Princess in a ceremony held March 27, 2013 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center. Souza is the daughter of Kevin and Suzanne Souza. The Souzas milk 3,000 Jerseys on their farm located just a few miles south of Milbank. Souza is currently a freshman at South Dakota State University where she is double majoring in dairy production and dairy manufacturing with a minor in Spanish. She made the dean’s list last semester and is a member of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority. “Being Dairy Princess has been a very rewarding experience,” said Souza. “It was really fun and really interesting. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.” Throughout the year, Souza has attended numerous events in her capacity as Dairy Princess. But her favorite activity has been classroom visits. “Kids are so much fun. One little girl asked me if I get to be princess forever. And at the end of one classroom visit, a little boy begged ‘Please don’t go!’ At a Sioux Falls Skyforce raffle game, a girl asked me if I was a princess who rides horses. I told her no, that I am a princess who milks cows,” Souza said. A few schoolchildren had questions for Souza about organic dairy products. “I told them that organic is a personal choice and that there is no right or wrong,” said Souza. “It’s up to each person to decide what’s best for them.” Souza’s classroom visits included a brief movie that contained facts about dairying. She would then tell the children about the high nutritional value of dairy products and why dairy should be a part of their daily diet. At the end of her presentation she would often conduct a pop quiz. Turn to SOUZA | Page 2

Recent South Dakota Dairy Princesses 2009





Ana Schweer Watertown

Emily Jungemann Wolsey

Natalie Thyen Waverly

Oliva Siglin Webster

Audrey Souza Milbank

Continued from SOUZA | Page 1 “It’s amazing how many of the facts the kids retained,” said Souza. “I felt that what I was doing was really making a difference.” During one particular classroom visit, Souza attempted to demonstrate how butter is made. But things went a bit askew. “We had an issue with the lids staying on the containers,” she said with a wry grin. “It got a bit messy. One little girl licked the half-churned butter right off her lid!” Souza has appeared at an assortment of events all across the state. She helped judge homemade ice cream at the Watertown Winter Farm Show and served ice cream at the Midwest Dairy Bar at the South Dakota State Fair. She handed out prizes at several dairy cattle shows and chatted with politicians and other attendees at Dakotafest in Mitch-

ell. “I was surprised at how much my opinion mattered,” she said. “Being dairy princess is like having a huge megaphone. My voice is so much louder.” Carrying a full load of college courses while serving as South Dakota Dairy Princess has been a challenge. Souza was able to accomplish all this and more with a good deal of assistance from her mother. “There were times when I felt like I was Audrey’s roadie,” said Suzanne. “Audrey would be walking out ahead and I would be following behind with all her stuff.” But everyone agrees that it has been well worth the effort. “As a parent, it was really fun to watch Audrey in the classrooms. It was surprising to see how well the kids paid


During her reign as dairy princess, Souza attended several sporting events such as this basketball game at South Dakota State University. At such venues she would use her voice as dairy princess to spread the word about the wholesomeness and high nutritional value of dairy products.


Audrey Souza, South Dakota’s 58th Dairy Princess, is the daughter of Kevin and Suzanne Souza. Audrey’s successful reign as dairy princess was due in no small part to the assistance she received from her mother.

Congratulations Audrey on a job well done! 200 East Railway Avenue Milbank, SD

605-432-4563 Established in 1929

attention,” said Suzanne. Souza also received help with rearranging her class load at SDSU. “Dr. Mistry, head of the dairy science department, helped me reschedule things so that I could accomplish everything I wanted to do as dairy princess,” said Souza. “He let me push off some of

my classes until next year so that I could make time for classroom visits.” One of Souza’s most memorable events was attending Cheeseburger Day in her hometown of Milbank. “I was handing out string cheese Turn to SOUZA | Page 3

South Dakota Dairy Princess Special Edition • Dairy Star • March 2014 • Page 3

Continued from SOUZA | Page 2 that was made at Valley Queen Cheese Factory. We sell our milk to Valley Queen, so I could tell people that this was cheese that came from our milk,” Souza said. Souza has landed a summer internship at Valley Queen Cheese Factory. She will work in their lab and may also lend a hand with the operation of their new whey processing facility. Upon being crowned South Dakota Dairy Princess, Souza was awarded a $1,000 scholarship and a $500 cloth-

ing stipend. She recently got word that she is also one of ten young people to receive a $1,000 scholarship as part of the Select Sires MidAmerica Scholarship Program. “I’m not yet sure what I will do after college,” said Souza. “I might get into ag communications. I really enjoy public speaking. I would practice my speech so much that it nearly drove my roommate crazy.” “We have watched Audrey grow as a person over the past year,” said Suzanne. “Kevin


During her reign as South Dakota Dairy Princess, Souza attended numerous events. At an open house held last June at Modak Dairy, located near Goodwin, Audrey met a dairy farm family from England who was touring South Dakota with an eye toward relocating to the Rushmore State.


Even though she was a busy college freshman and South Dakota Dairy Princess, Souza still found time to show one of her favorite Jersey heifers at the Little International. Audrey also participated in the dairy challenge, which involves visiting dairy farms and analyzing their operational techniques.

and I are very proud of her.” South Dakota’s 59th Dairy Princess will be crowned during a coronation event schedule for 6:30 p.m. on the evening of March 25 as part of the Central Plains Dairy Expo’s Welcome Reception. Souza has some words of wisdom for the next South Dakota Dairy Princess. “Take advantage of every single event that you can,” she said. “Use your time as princess to voice your opinion and to share your knowledge. Be proud of our industry and explain how our high quality, nutritious milk is produced. “But above all,” Souza said. “Enjoy your time. It goes by so fast!”


Among Souza’s top goals as dairy princess was visiting classrooms to educate schoolchildren about the high nutritional value of dairy products and why they should make dairy part of their daily diet.

Page 4 • South Dakota Dairy Princess Special Edition • Dairy Star • March 2014

Katelyn Grehl, 19

Parents: Julie and Frank Grehl Hitchcock, S.D.

Tell us about yourself, the farm you live and/or work on and your future plans. I live and work on my parents’ 100-cow family operated dairy. I am currently attending Dakota Wesleyan University where I am majoring in nursing. I commute from home to school every day, allowing me to stay very much involved with our dairy calves and weekend milking. My plans for the future include obtaining my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing and gradually starting my own small dairy herd with the help of my parents. What do you enjoy most about growing up or working on a dairy farm? The thing I enjoy most about growing up and working on our dairy farm is working with my family and the dairy cattle. Evening milking is what I miss the most during the school week. My mom and I always milked evenings and we still do on weekends. Naming the newborn baby calves is also our job – we come up with some pretty unique ones, too. My parents first started our dairy farm in 1999, and I personally can’t ever remember not having the dairy cows. I know that wherever I end up in life, the dairy industry has had a major impact on my life.

Martha Hartway, 18

Parents: Darlene and Charles Hartway Castlewood, S.D. Tell us about yourself, the farm you live and/or work on and your future plans. I’m a freshman biology major attending South Dakota State University. Being born and raised on a beef farm in western New York and then moving to Castlewood, S.D. to start a dairy farm have instilled a passion for kids and agriculture in me. My future plans are to become a pediatric physical therapist with hopes of someday raising kids of my own on a farm just as my parents have raised me. What do you enjoy most about growing up or working on a dairy farm? The best part of growing up on a dairy farm is being able to start my day with freshly squeezed milk, as my dad always calls it, poured over a bowl of cereal. Also, the satisfaction that my family helps bring wholesome milk to many other family’s kitchen tables across the country.

Why is being the South Dakota State Dairy Princess important to you? Being a South Dakota State Dairy Princess is important to me not only because its been a dream since I was a child reading the Dairy Star review of the candidates each year, but also because it is a excellent opportunity to share with South Dakota the importance of our dairy farms as well as the importance of our dairy products. As dairy farmers, we are very involved and interested in preserving our land for future generations and using new technology to help us accomplish this goal. Many people are not aware of how involved our dairy farmers are in our state economy and environment.

Why is being the South Dakota State Dairy Princess important to you? I feel it is important to promote and be a positive advocate for agriculture to a society that is growing further away from agriculture. Less than 2 percent of the population is farmers and the average American is three generations removed from a farm. Having not always been from a rural community, I can relate to others where agriculture isn’t as prevalent in their lives and I would like to help show those people the importance of agriculture and dairy.

If crowned the South Dakota State Dairy Princess, what would your main messages be to audiences? If crowned South Dakota Dairy Princess, my main messages would be how dairy products help you maintain a healthy life by fighting against diseases like hypertension, osteoporosis, and heart disease. And that as dairy farmers of South Dakota we care for our land, we care for our cows, and we care about the products we produce.

If crowned the South Dakota State Dairy Princess, what would your main messages be to audiences? If crowned the South Dakota State Dairy Princess, my main messages to audiences would be promoting the health benefits of dairy products and to keep the attachment between dairy and people’s health. It is also very important that everyone gets at least three servings of dairy daily.

Choose a dairy product and an audience, and tell us how you would promote that product to that audience. As a nursing student I have learned so much about nutrition and preventing diseases. The main nutritional deficiency in adults is calcium which can result in malnutrition, osteoporosis, hypertension, and heart disease. Even the best supplements that money can buy will never give you the same results as dairy products. Many people also try to replace dairy products with dark green vegetables and dairy imitators, neither of these contain the nutritional value of dairy products. Milk has nine essential nutrients and promotes strong bone and muscle growth to help prevent theses diseases. Many people also believe that if you are lactose intolerant you cannot have any dairy products whatsoever, but this is untrue. Lactose is found in milk and can be removed. There are many lactose free dairy products available at your local grocery store.

Choose a dairy product and an audience, and tell us how you would promote that product to that audience. I would like to promote Greek yogurt to people of all ages. From young people to old people, there are many great health benefits. The ratio of protein to calories is great for maintaining a healthy weight. Greek yogurt contains more protein than regular yogurt, more potassium than a banana, and more calcium than a glass of milk. It is a nutrient dense grab and go snack perfect for teens and millennial’s that live busy lifestyles.

Audrey Souza 2013 South Dakota Dairy Princess!

To a l l o u r South Dakota Dairy Princess

Reception and Coronation

Sioux Falls Convention Center • 1211 N West Ave., Sioux Falls, SD

Tuesday, March 25 • 4:30 p.m.

4:30 p.m.

5:30 p.m.

6:30 p.m.

Program begins, Introduction of candidates, Remarks by current princess, Audrey Souza, Presentation of Candidates, Presentation of Scholarships to Candidates Central Plains Dairy Expo Welcome Reception

Crowning of 59th South Dakota Dairy Princess

Preserving and Enhancing a Sustainable Dairy Environment in South Dakota P.O. Box 31 • Brookings, SD 57006

Dairy is the 6th largest agricultural business and South Dakota’s No. 1 industry. Dairy generates more than $508 million in annual economic activity and employs over 1,838 South Dakotans with over $10 million in business taxes. Source: Dr. Gary Taylor, SDSU

South Dakota Dairy Princess Special Edition • Dairy Star • March 2014 • Page 5

Emily Massey, 17

Katie Merrill, 18

Parents: Deb and Jim Massey Olivet, S.D. Tell us about yourself, the farm you live and/ or work on and your future plans. My name is Emily Massey and I am currently a senior at Menno High School. I grew up on a dairy farm where we milked around 200 cows. My chores included feeding calves, milking cows, and other farm work. Next year I plan to attend USD for a career in the medical field. Someday I hope to become a pediatrician and help influence kids to have a healthy diet that includes dairy products. What do you enjoy most about growing up or working on a dairy farm? When we were little, my brother, sister, and I would always run around the farm checking on all our animals. Some of my favorite things to do are still checking on animals, the freedoms of living on the farm, and the fact that there is always something new to do every day. Why is being the South Dakota State Dairy Princess important to you? Ten years ago, I got to see my older sister run for dairy princess. She has always been a huge role model for me, so this year I decided to run for South Dakota Dairy Princess. To me the most important part is to inform more people about the dairy industry. I am running for this great experience and to help people understand the dairy industry better. If crowned the South Dakota State Dairy Princess, what would your main messages be to audiences? I want to help people understand were their dairy products come from. Some people believe that dairy products just come from a store. As South Dakota Dairy Princess I would strive to inform people about the dairy industry. Dairy farms are highly important to be able to provide many people with dairy products around the world. Choose a dairy product and an audience, and tell us how you would promote that product to that audience. I would choose to teach elementary students about milk. For FCCLA, we have classes called Little Chefs where we talk to the kids about having a healthy diet and we make healthy snacks. To inform the students about milk, I would have a Dairy Little Chefs. I would hold after school classes to teach students about the dairy industry and products. I would then have the kids make healthy snacks using dairy products.



Parents: Kristi and Allen Merrill Parker, S.D. Tell us about yourself, the farm you live and/or work on and your future plans. I am a senior at Parker High School where I am actively involved in FFA, FCCLA, Cheerleading, Dance, Band, National Honor Society, Quiz Bowl, and Oral Interpretation. I have grown up on a dairy farm right outside of Parker. I am also actively involved in 4-H, in which I have shown calves. Every summer, my dad offers an opportunity to all kids who don’t live on a farm to come and work with calves two months before the Turner County Fair and then show the calves at the fair in a novice class. My future plans include going to Presentation College to pursue a career in nursing. What do you enjoy most about growing up or working on a dairy farm? I have enjoyed the experience of living on a dairy farm most because it has taught me morals and values. Dairy farming is a very respectable career and some things it has taught me are integrity, work ethic, and respect. It has also given me many opportunities in life such as traveling with my dad for dairy meetings and trying out for dairy princess. Why is being the South Dakota State Dairy Princess important to you? Being crowned dairy princess would be an honor and privilege in my life because I want to show others the importance of dairy in a person’s diet and how the dairy industry is growing. I hope to be dairy princess to promote a positive image in the dairy industry to help protect the sales and manufacturing of dairy products. Consumers are being pulled in a million different directions upon hearing about the dairy industry and don’t know what to believe. My job, as dairy princess, would be to get the message out to the public about all the nutritional and economical benefits dairy products have to offer. If crowned the South Dakota State Dairy Princess, what would your main messages be to audiences? My main message to audiences would be the nutritional value in dairy products. Being in Food Science for FFA, I have a good share of knowledge about dairy nutrition. The recommended daily servings of dairy for people is three servings a day. Most people do not consume that much dairy in a day, but it is very vital and contains many vitamins and essential nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, protein, and potassium which could lower the risk of osteoporosis, help children grow strong bones, and could help lower blood pressure in adults. Choose a dairy product and an audience, and tell us how you would promote that product to that audience. The dairy product I would choose to promote would be whey protein, which is something that is becoming popular in the dairy industry. Researchers in the dairy industry have found that it is beneficial in health foods and diets. Athletes and people who exercise on a regular basis to build healthy muscle mass, find a source of energy, or maintain a healthy metabolism can turn to this newfound product. Whey protein is found in many protein shakes and bars and contains all the essential amino acids your body needs daily. I would promote this product by going to schools or health facilities to talk about the benefits of whey protein or by hosting a booth at various events to explain the benefits of whey protein in your diet and have samples of whey protein’s products for people to try.

Good Luck

to all the South Dakota Dairy Princess Candidates!








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Page 6 • South Dakota Dairy Princess Special Edition • Dairy Star • March 2014

Mercedes Zemlicka, 18

Good Luck Dairy Princess Candidates! Announcing

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Parents: Valerie and Daron Zemlicka Watertown, S.D.

Tell us about yourself, the farm you live and/or work on and your future plans. I have been a member of the Prairie Hustlers 4-H club for ten years, in which I showed dairy and sheep. I have judged dairy at county and state levels, as well as qualifying several times for judging at the World Dairy Expo. On our dairy farm, we milk about 45 head of grade and registered Holsteins, have a flock of registered Hampshire sheep and a herd of beef cows. I am in charge of taking care of the Holstein calves on our farm plus milking cows in the morning. After school, I participate in sports before coming home to do chores. I plan on attending Lake Area Technical Institute this fall for financial services. What do you enjoy most about growing up or working on a dairy farm? Growing up on a dairy farm, I have learned to be a hard worker and have a lot of patience. With those I have learned to be more determined in everything I do. Being with all the cows everyday I have a bond with them that’s indescribable, and it just teaches me to enjoy the little things. Why is being the South Dakota State Dairy Princess important to you? I want to be able to represent the little dairy farms out there plus be able to tell people how important all sizes of dairy farms are. This would mean the world to me. Big or small, they all produce milk for the nation and provide a healthy diet to everyone. Within the dairy industry, everyone has their own job to make things work. Dairy has been in our family for several generations and I want to make my family proud that I would be a spokesperson for the dairy industry in our state. If crowned the South Dakota State Dairy Princess, what would your main messages be to audiences? I would reach out to consumers and make them more aware of how their dairy products get from the cow to the table. Also, I want to tell everyone, young and old, how much the dairy industry has been growing and doing everything in their power to be environmentally safe. We take good care of our cows so that their milk is the highest quality that it can be.

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Choose a dairy product and an audience, and tell us how you would promote that product to that audience. The product I’d choose would be chocolate milk and my audience would mainly be physically active people and people that workout. I would tell them that drinking a glass of chocolate milk after a workout is really good for you. With all the nutrients in the milk, it helps you increase your muscle mass and also replenishes you. It’s an easy way to get stronger and it tastes great.

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South Dakota’s dairy industry continues to expand Due to ample supplies of both food and water, the sustainable future of South Dakota’s dairy industry looks bright. “Sustainable dairies of the future need to be located in areas with ample supply of both water and feed. South Dakota as a state offers all these advantages and its part of the reason why between 2012 and 2013 dairy cow numbers in the state increased from 92, 000 to 94,000,” said Alvaro Garcia, Professor and SDSU Extension Dairy Specialist. During the same timeframe, the total number of milk produced in the state grew by 2.8 percent from 1.97 to 2.02 billion pounds, making it the seventh largest growth in the country. Of the top 23 dairy reporting states according to USDA, only Colorado at 3.4 percent grew more. As of 2013 South Dakota ranks 21st in the U.S. for overall milk produced and ranks 22nd in total number of dairy cows. Garcia said that well-being is critical for cows. “They need to be supplied with competitively-priced feed and water and be comfortable and well-cared for. Water has been identified as one of the critical items for the future of sustainable agriculture, particularly in the western/ southwestern region of the U.S,” he said. However, he said feed and water are not enough in today’s fuel-strapped world. “First and foremost what is needed is a vibrant local processing industry that minimizes transportation costs and adds value to milk,” Garcia said. Several milk processing plant upgrades as well as new start-ups are taking place in the state. The SDSU Dairy Science Department was deeply involved at various stages of these developments. Garcia lists DAVISCO Foods of Lake Norden and Valley Queen Cheese of Milbank as two examples of existing processing plants. DAVISCO Foods, an international company that supplies a major portion of Kraft Foods cheese products, started in 2001 with their $40 million, 85,000-square-foot facility expansion project in its Lake Norden plant. The Lake Norden Cheese Company as it was named began full production in 2004 encouraging dairy producer’s expansion and relocation. Starting in 2009, Valley Queen Cheese of Milbank, S.D. underwent a twoyear expansion project with an 80,000-squarefoot warehouse addition and a 12,000-square-

foot dryer addition to their current plant. A milk processing plant new to the state in 2014 is Bel Brands USA. The company manufactures and markets “The Laughing Cow” cheese wedges and Mini Babybel - America’s No. 1 branded snacking cheese, as well as Boursin, Merkts, Kaukauna, and other natural and gourmet cheese spreads. The Company will invest approximately $100 million in its new plant on a 48-acre land parcel in Brookings. Phase 1 of the project will have a production capacity of approximately 22 million pounds or 10,000 metric tons. The second phase, contingent on anticipated increased market demands, is envisioned to be built in 20162017, bringing 200 additional jobs to the area. Why is the dairy industry expanding in South Dakota? “All this is excellent from a strictly dairy business perspective. However, other parts of the country offer similar economic environmental conditions and even milder weather,” said Garcia. “What is it about South Dakota that has made the difference? Quality of life is oftentimes mentioned as a decision to move or relocate. Could this be making a difference for South Dakota?” Maybe it’s South Dakota’s high well-being score? Garcia explains that according to the most recent 2013 Gallup-Healthways poll, which surveyed 176,000 people from all 50 states in the U.S., South Dakota ranked in the top two for well-being (along with North Dakota). “South Dakota respondents were among the most likely in the U.S. to report good emotional health. Ninety percent reported enjoying a large portion of their day, and more than 93 percent felt happy during the previous 24 hours, more than any other state,” Garcia said. The state’s unemployment rate in December at 3.6 percent tied for the second lowest in the U.S. Not only did much of the workforce in South Dakota have a job, but also were more likely to enjoy their work environment. “The success of South Dakota as a dairy state is not just that its climate and economic conditions are conducive to profitable and sustainable agricultural practices. It is foremost a combination of those with a living environment where well-being and quality of life is currently rated among the two highest in the nation,” Garcia said.

South Dakota Dairy Princess Special Edition • Dairy Star • March 2014 • Page 7


GOOD LUCK to all the

South Dakota Dairy Princess Candidates! Lake Norden Cheese Company A DIVISION OF DAVISCO FOODS INTERNATIONAL, INC.

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Phone: 605-785-3683




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Page 8 • South Dakota Dairy Princess Special Edition • Dairy Star • March 2014

Congratulations to the candidates of the 59th South Dakota Dairy Princess Contest

Katelyn Grehl

Martha Hartway

385 N. Main • Parker, SD (605) 297-3387

Good luck Katie!



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Good Luck! Watertown, SD

Katie Merrill

Mercedes Zemlicka


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Emily Massey

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SOUTH DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY DAIRY SCIENCE Congratulates all the Dairy Princess candidates

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