SDSU students are doing “butter” than ever in the dairy industry


Natalie Beckendorf, Reporter

Five South Dakota State University students were named finalists in the 69th Princess Kay of the Milky Way competition and received personalized 90-pound butter sculptures. 

Hailey Frericks, Ashley Holst, Briana Maus, Allison Wright and Aly Dieball competed in the Princess Kay of the Milky Way competition at the Minnesota State Fair earlier this month. Although none of these students were crowned as princess, they still had the opportunity to advocate for the dairy industry during the fair.

The process of becoming a Princess Kay finalist is extensive. To qualify, candidates must be a county dairy princess, then they must participate in a leadership event and interview to compete to be a finalist. 

SDSU students represented half of the ten young women that were selected to advance to the final competition.

“Being a finalist has been an absolute dream come true,” Frericks said. “It allowed me to grow personally and professionally in many areas and allowed me to network with a variety of people.” 

In early August, the final round of the competition occurred, and the winner was announced Aug. 24. The winner will serve Minnesota’s dairy farmers as a goodwill ambassador. 

All finalists stayed active at the fair with media interviews, advocating for the dairy industry at the butter booth, helping at the dairy judging ceremony, attending the Milk Run, participating in the parade and attending the 4-H Dairy Showcase. 

The finalists’ favorite part of the fair was getting their heads sculpted in butter. Finalists are overjoyed with their 90-pound butter heads and have plans to give back to the people that supported them in this process.

“I will store my butter head in the freezer to reminisce on the memories and will use the scraps for baking days at the local nursing home,” Dieball said.

All SDSU finalists come from heavy dairy backgrounds, ranging from working on their family farms to raising their own herd. Wright describes her journey in the dairy industry as “a big family thing,” as she grew up working on a family-owned-and-run tie-stall operation. 

For many, SDSU education and opportunities played a prominent role in the journey of becoming finalists. 

“The dairy community at SDSU is so strong,” Holst said. 

Many found their home at SDSU within the Dairy Club because of the shared passions and welcoming atmosphere. Finalists also noted that the professors’ love for dairy makes it easy to learn and grow within the industry.  

Dairy and Food Science Department Head, Sanjeev Anand, commended the five finalists.

“It’s absolutely huge to have five finalists from SDSU in one year,” he said. 

Anand gives credit to the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences for the outstanding accomplishments of high performing students. SDSU’s dairy science program is unique because of the Davis Dairy Plant and Sales Bar facilities that provide students with hands-on opportunities in dairy production and manufacturing of dairy products.

“These established programs grant students hands-on comprehensive and engaging education opportunities so students can flourish in competitions like Princess Kay,” Anand said.

Just as these five women went after their interests, they want all students to get involved on campus and pursue their passions. 

“Live life with no regrets and just go for it. Trust me, you won’t regret accomplishing your dreams,” Frericks added.