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Dairy princesses educate fair-goers, make connections
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Dairy princesses educate fair-goers, make connections

Iowa Dairy Princess

Meghan Hettinga (left) of Orange City served as Iowa Dairy Princess this past year. Amber Engelken (right) served as the alternate.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Not everybody can become a princess. It requires knowing all about rations and milk production — or at least it does if you are a dairy princess.

Meghan Hettinga, 21, is just finishing her year as Iowa Dairy Princess. Her reign ends with this year’s state fair. Amber Engelken is the dairy princess alternate. For the next year the princess is Hillary Burken and the alternate is Reagan Kime. They join the list of royalty that still exists in agriculture, a list that includes pork queens and others of note.

Of course, there is no talent or swimsuit contests for these crowns. Instead the winners demonstrate their knowledge of agriculture and their willingness to spend their time handing out ribbons and promoting their products.

“The best part is getting to connect with different producers,” Hettinga said during her work at the state fair.

Engelken agreed, adding that she enjoys educating non-dairy farmers about the industry in ways that they can understand.

Hettinga comes from a dairy farm near Orange City, where her family has about 150 Jersey cows.

“I grew up with it,” she said of the dairy farm.

She is now studying dairy production at South Dakota State University and is carrying a minor in communications.

Engelken is younger but is following a similar path, majoring in dairy science and minoring in agricultural communications at Iowa State University.

Hettinga said she wants to work in communications in the dairy industry after graduation but would eventually love to return to the farm. Engelken worked as a crop scout this summer and enjoyed that work, but she is not yet sure what direction her career path will take.

One thing both women know is that they have been honored to wear the crowns and spend time promoting dairy products.

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Gene Lucht is public affairs editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.

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