Farm Horizons, Oct. 2015

Dairy promotion never stops for new Princess Kay

By Starrla Cray

Kyla Mauk’s reign as Princess Kay will be over in less than 365 days, but her delight in the dairy industry won’t stop when she hands down the crown.

“My goal is to be a high school agricultural teacher and FFA advisor,” said Mauk, a 2014 graduate of Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School.

Mauk was active in FFA throughout high school, and will be earning the prestigious American FFA Degree at the national FFA convention this fall.

She’s currently a sophomore at South Dakota State University, pursuing a degree in agricultural education.

Although she missed some classes while making Princess Kay appearances all 12 days of the Minnesota State Fair, Mauk said she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s been great,” she said Sept. 21. “I’m all caught up from the two weeks I missed.”

During the state fair, Kyla had opportunities to do milking demonstrations and media interviews, and share dairy information with fairgoers.

“Definitely one of my favorite parts was getting to advocate with the other 11 finalists,” she said. “I have a great group of new friends.”

Another highlight was getting her likeness carved out of a 90-pound block of butter. The sculpture is now in her freezer at home, and in the future, she hopes to share it with the community in some way.

When Mauk was little, she remembers seeing the butter sculptures at the state fair, and thinking, ‘that would be really cool to have my head carved out of butter.’

As she got older, Mauk discovered more and more what being a dairy princess is all about, and knew she wanted to get involved.

“I realized it was about representing Minnesota’s dairy farmers,” she said. “I’m very passionate about educating people about agriculture, especially the dairy industry.”

As Princess Kay, Mauk enjoys helping people learn how farmers work hard to care for their animals and the land, and about the nutritional aspect of dairy products.

“Farmers work 365 days a year to produce wholesome, nutritious milk, and they care for the land in the most sustainable way possible, so they can pass the farm on to future generations,” she said.

Generation to generation

Mauk’s family farm near Howard Lake originally belonged to her great-grandparents.

Currently, the farm is operated by her parents, Harlan and Chris, along with Harlan’s parents, Harvey and Linda.

Harlan started milking cows when he was about 12 or 13 years old, and continued farming after high school.

“I always liked it, and I stuck with it,” he said.

The Mauks milk 90 to 100 cows in their tie-stall barn, and grow their own feed.

Through the years, Kyla and her sisters, Briana, 17, and Sarah, 15, had the job of feeding calves.

“I loved the part of watching calves being born – witnessing the miracle of birth and watching them grow up,” Kyla recalled.

Chris grew up in Maple Lake, and although she’s not from a farming background, she enjoys helping with the calves, as well.

Briana is now a senior at HLWW and works as a certified nursing assistant, and Sarah, a sophomore, hopes to continue working on the family farm.

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