Herald JournalHerald Journal, May 23, 2005

Dairy princess gave up scholarships to follow her heart into dairying

By Lynda Jensen

“If you find a job that you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

These are words of wisdom that Becky Dammann of Lester Prairie, 19, is following right now – and she has definitely found her lifelong love: dairying.

For Dammann, dairying isn’t a dairy princess title or a superficial concept, but a daily pursuit of happiness, which she finds at her aunt and uncle’s farm, Engelmann Dairy, owned by Roger and Peggy Engelmann of Plato.

On the farm, Dammann feeds and vaccinates calves and drives truck. She wants to learn how to drive the semi this year, she said.

“I just love it so much,” she says with enthusiasm. “I love the dairy industry.”

This love will likely find a warm reception come August at the Minnesota State Fair, when Dammann competes for the title of Princess Kay of the Milky Way.

Dammann was recently chosen as one of 12 dairy princesses in the state to compete as a finalist for that honor.

As such, she will have her likeness carved into a block of butter during the Minnesota State Fair.

The state dairy princess will be crowned Aug. 24, the evening before the state fair opens.

Candidates are judged on their appearance, communication skills, general knowledge of the dairy industry, personality and enthusiasm for dairy promotion, according to the Minnesota Dairy Industry.

What drives Dammann now is to keep what she holds dear, that being her work on the farm.

To follow her dreams, she gave up her plans to attend the University of Minnesota in Morris – and $8,000 in scholarships, her mother Mary Joe said.

Becky was thinking about pursuing a career as a pharmacist or physician, her mother added.

She’d rather be doing her full-time job on the farm, which entails taking care of the calves, bringing groups up for milking, scraping the pens, feeding milk cows, and hauling feed to other farms where they have heifers.

She is also starting to breed cows.

She’s doing what she absolutely loves, Mary Joe said. “She’s just so in love with it. She loves where she’s at.”

Her favorite thing on the farm is “always being up for the sunrise and seeing the calves with their little ears all perked up and their eyes wide, hardly able to stand waiting for their fresh milk another minute,” she said.

Becky graduated from Glencoe-Silver Lake in 2004. Three of her brothers attended or currently attend Lester Prairie School District.

Her decision is very similar to what her father, Dan Dammann, did many years ago. He sunk every last penny into the farm, until he was forced to give it up, Mary Joe said.

The Dammanns live on the home place that was operated by the late Grandpa Wilmer Dammann.

The Dammanns bought the home place in 1991. They ended up selling their herd when Becky was eight years old, about three years later.

When she participated in the subsection competition at St. Ben’s May 13 and 14, Becky couldn’t help but let her natural enthusiasm for the industry overflow into her words. This made her mother Mary Joe cry when Becky read her biography, Becky said.

Now she will join 11 other girls in competition, including two from McLeod County, Tracy Nelson of Winthrop and Lana Olson of Hutchinson.

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