BY STARRLA CRAY
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Most people can’t say they’ve had a 90-pound block of butter sculpted to look like their face, but 2015 Lester Prairie High School graduate Rachel Stender isn’t most people.
Among her many roles, Rachel is a country girl who milks cows, a college student who adores history, and a princess who promotes the dairy industry.
The daughter of Allen and Lisa Stender of Lester Prairie, Rachel was one of 12 Princess Kay of the Milky Way finalists for 2015. One of her first tasks as a finalist was to spend eight hours in a rotating cooler at the Minnesota State Fair while her butterhead was being sculpted.
The creamy sculpture will be on display at Prairie Market (26 Juniper St. N. in Lester Prairie) Saturday, Dec. 19, and Stender will be on hand to greet visitors and offer dairy treats.
Rachel’s journey into dairy royalty started in March, when she was crowned as a McLeod County dairy princess.
“I was honored to be one of the three chosen to attend the May Event,” she said, referring to the weekend-long dairy princess promotion training and Princess Kay finalist selection, which is known as the “May Event.”
The judging process included a personal interview, mock media interview, and prepared speech.
Although Rachel had experience with public speaking through drama club and a communications class she took at Lester Prairie High School, she wasn’t expecting to hear her name as a finalist.
“I didn’t see that coming at all,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it, honestly.”
Rachel spent the summer with the other McLeod County dairy princesses, riding parade floats and making appearances at events throughout the county.
“I met really nice people from Bongard’s Creamery, which is where we ship our milk,” she added. “They were my sponsors for Princess Kay.”
In the fall, Rachel visited classrooms to share the dairy message, and began her freshman year at Southwest State University in Marshall.
“The semester really flew by,” Rachel said. “I have amazing teachers, and I’ve met a lot of great people.”
Her favorite class was modern history, which covers the Civil War era to current events.
As a history major, Rachel plans to become a secondary education teacher for all social sciences, such as history, geography, psychology, and civics.
She also plans to stay involved in the dairy industry. On weekends when she’s home from college, Rachel milks cows and does calf chores on the Kevin Lachermeier farm in Mayer, and helps with her grandparents’ dairy farm.
During winter break, Rachel said the first thing she plans to do is head to the barn.
“I miss the cows,” she said.
She’s also looking forward to baking Christmas cookies with her grandmother making good use of leftover butter scraps she took home with her sculpture.
Dairy Delicious facts
• Yogurt contains probiotics, which are healthy bacteria that can help prevent and alleviate digestive issues.
• Many weight lifters drink milk post-workout, because it contains a combination of nutrients to help aid in muscle recovery, such as two types of protein, electrolytes, carbohydrates, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals.
• Dairy products are rich in calcium, which may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis (a disease in which bones become fragile). Osteoporosis is more common in women, the elderly, those who are of white or Asian descent, those with a family history of the disease, anyone with a small frame, people who have had an eating disorder such as anorexia, excessive alcohol use, tobacco use, or a sedentary lifestyle.
(Information from US News, Stronglifts, and the Mayo Clinic.)