Princess Kay dream coming true for Baker

PLAINVIEW, Minn. - Kallie Baker routinely shows a half dozen cows at several county fairs and the Minnesota State Fair each summer, is a regular in her farm's calf barn and is a proud ambassador for the dairy industry as a Wabasha County Dairy...

PLAINVIEW — Kallie Baker routinely shows a half-dozen cows at several county fairs and the Minnesota State Fair each summer. She is a regular in her farm's calf barn and is a proud ambassador for the dairy industry as a Wabasha County Dairy Princess and Princess Kay of the Milky Way finalist.

She's come a long way from knowing little about farming as a third-grader. That's when her mom, Natalie, married Bruce Wood. Bruce farmed with his parents in rural Plainview on their Maple Breeze Dairy. The farm has been in the Wood family for more than 150 years. Natalie, Kallie and her brother, Braiden, and sister, Ryanne, joined Bruce on the farm.

It was a bit of an adjustment to live on a farm. There were smells, large animals and a lot Baker didn't understand. With time, though, and with some learning, the farming lifestyle started to feel more comfortable.

"(My mom)'s embraced it just as much as I have, and it's embraced us as well," Baker said. "Now, I want to live on a farm."

A seminal moment in Baker's path to being fully vested in the dairy industry came when she was in fifth grade and picked out her first calf to show for 4-H.


"I still didn't know a lot about dairy," Baker said. "But picking, naming and working with her made me a lot more interested."

Baker's involvement in and enjoyment of her time with Jolli Ranchers 4-H Club that first year convinced her siblings to join the club the following year.

Maple Breeze Dairy has 150 milk cows. Most are Holsteins, though Baker and her siblings' show cattle have brought quite a bit of color to the herd, including Brown Swiss and Ayrshire.

"I bought my own Brown Swiss heifer five years ago," Baker said. "Now, her heifers are having heifers. I enjoy being able to manage my own little herd."

Baker's "farm grandma," Carol Wood, didn't have any daughters and was excited to introduce Baker to the dairy princess concept. In seventh grade, Baker watched her first Princess Kay of the Milky Way coronation ceremony before the Minnesota State Fair and saw the butterheads; she was sold. She has watched every coronation since.

"Watching that, it became a goal of mine to be a role model for others," Baker said.

She was crowned Wabasha County Dairy Princess in April. She has several events coming up, including a stop at Wabasha County Family Night on the Farm. Baker is looking forward to getting all kinds of oddball questions from the public as real-life practice for Princess Kay selection in August.

"It's fun to be able to represent this county and the dairy community I've grown up with," Baker said. "Teaching kids and adults about making the healthy choices is really cool. I can build consumer confidence and make the connection that this family makes that product."


It was a pleasant surprise for Baker to be named a finalist for the Princess Kay title in May.

"I've looked up to these girls for so long; I didn't think it could happen to me," Baker said. "Hearing my name was that defining moment: I can be that role model. I'm so humbled."

After her busy summer, Baker, who graduated from Plainview-Elgin-Millville High School on May 29, will head to Iowa State University. There, she plans to major in pre-veterinary animal science and might add a journalism minor. During her time at PEM, Baker was involved with FFA, National Honor Society, softball, and competition, boys basketball and football cheerleading. She's active with her church youth group and works part-time with KBS in Plainview. Baker is president of Jolli Ranchers 4-H, as well as for Wabasha County 4-H's Travel Exchange Club.

Favorite dairy product:Cheese. "I used to love cheese and peanut butter sandwiches when I was little," Baker said.

Favorite type of cheese:Cheddar.

Favorite flavor of ice cream:"Ice cream is one of my favorite foods," Baker said. "I like vanilla, that way I can add whatever I want. I also enjoy banana splits."

How does she get three dairy products per day?"I drink a lot of chocolate and white milk," Baker said. "I especially like milk with cereal or oatmeal in the morning. Also yogurt and cheese."

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