Haler family prepares to house another butterhead

NORWOOD YOUNG AMERICA, Minn. — The Haler family has been courting Princess Kay.

Carver County Dairy Princess Jeni Haler, of Norwood Young America, is a 2014 Princess Kay finalist.

NORWOOD YOUNG AMERICA, Minn. — The Haler family has been courting Princess Kay.

Jeni Haler is the family's fourth representative to try for the dairy crown. Not only have her two sisters, Chaneen and Victoria, been Princess Kay finalists in 2011 and 2012 respectively, but so has her mother, Connie Haasken, in 1987. As the youngest Haler, Jeni is thrilled to follow in her family's footsteps.

"I actually didn't find out my mom was a finalist until my sister was," Haler said. "I want to uphold our legacy. They've all done such an awesome job representing the dairy industry. I look up to my sisters, and my mom is my role model."

Haler and her sisters grew up working on their father, Rick Haler's, farm, splitting their time between the farm, called Saintville Holsteins, and their mom's house in town.

The setup "was a little different for me," Haler said. "I used to envy my friends who could go to their dairy and farm all the time, but it gave me a special connection. I've seen both sides."


The Halers milk about 70 cows and raise about 70 young stock, including several leased to local 4-H'ers. Most are Holsteins, with a few Red and White Holsteins sprinkled in. Spread over five farm sites, all cattle are pastured. The milk cows go in a compost bedded pack barn as needed and are milked in a step-up parlor.

The family also runs 600 acres in partnership with a neighbor, mostly raising feed to fulfill the farm's needs, including corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa. The farm is also home to a handful of chickens, depending on the year, Haler said.

She helps out with just about everything but particularly with milking and feeding cows and calves.

"We really focus on taking care of each and every animal," Haler said.

2014 will be Haler's last year showing dairy cattle with 4-H, which is a little bittersweet, Haler said. She had two animals at the Carver County Fair, which concluded Aug. 10, and she plans to have at least one cow at the Minnesota State Fair. She figures this year's state fair will be a win-win for her: either she will be crowned Princess Kay and will get to participate in all the duties involved with her reign, or she will get to show at the fair one last time.

Haler will be a sophomore at the University of Minnesota when the fair ends. She's looking forward to returning to school and diving back into clubs she has been involved with, including Beta of Clovia, Gopher Dairy Club, International Dairy Club and Spanish and Portuguese Across Cultures. A animal science and Spanish and Portuguese double major, Haler hopes to eventually work with Heifer International, an organization that aims to reduce hunger and poverty by providing families with livestock to raise and encouraging them to gift their first female offspring to another family.

"It would allow me to travel the world to teach people how to care for animals and about sustainable agriculture," Haler said.

Outside of school, Haler likes to volunteer, including stints with USA Cup soccer, the Ronald McDonald house and Christmastime caroling.


"Princess" is a full-time job for the Carver County dairy princess as of late. She just wrapped up her year-long reign as a Minneapolis Aquatennial princess. Haler is in her first year as a Carver County dairy princess and has been preparing for Princess Kay selection Aug. 20.

She has been traveling across the county to bring the dairy message to Carver residents, including at the Tour de Tonka, an organized, multi-distance bike ride in the Lake Minnetonka area. As a runner, she appreciates milk's ability to help athletes refuel.

"It was an amazing summer," Haler said. "It went by in the blink of an eye. It was one of those once in a lifetime experiences I'll definitely cherish."

In addition to events, Haler is pouring her time into preparing for Princess Kay selections. She has been reading a lot, as well as talking with past finalists and having discussions with her family about hot topics in the industry. Whatever happens, Haler is proud to be an ambassador for something she loves.

"I love the dairy community," Haler said. "It's that sense when you go to someone's farm and feel so welcome. My role allows me to go connect with others who don't have that connection (with a farm). I like reaching out to different audiences you wouldn't be able to on the farm."

As Princess Kay coronation draws closer, Haler's goal is to be herself and do her best. At the ceremony, she anticipates supporters showing up from all sectors of her life. As a finalist, she's appreciated interacting with the other Princess Kay finalists; their stories have given her a fuller picture of what the industry in the state looks like, Haler said.

As for what happens after the fair, the family will have 270 pounds of butterhead hanging out in their freezer between the three sisters. The Halers plan to hold a corn feed for the community and to donate any butter that is leftover.

"My sisters have been waiting for this moment," Haler said. "We'll have to put our heads together and take a picture."


School:  University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. 

Siblings:  Sisters Chaneen and Victoria. 

4-H club:  Gotha Go Getters. 

Favorite dairy product:  Chocolate milk. 

Favorite flavor of ice cream:  Anything chocolate. 

Favorite flavor of yogurt:  "I actually really like plain yogurt because you can add anything to it," Haler said. 

Favorite kind of cheese:  Extra sharp cheddar or anything with a strong flavor. 


How do you get your three dairy products per day?  "A lot of times, it's just going to be milk because I drink it with every meal," Haler said. "We love to use yogurt in sauces and dips and cheese goes with everything. I definitely get my three servings." 

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