SUBMITTED PHOTO
Three area young women have been selected to represent Fillmore County American Dairy Association for 2017. From left are Haely Leiding, Abby Hopp and Makala Nauman.
SUBMITTED PHOTO Three area young women have been selected to represent Fillmore County American Dairy Association for 2017. From left are Haely Leiding, Abby Hopp and Makala Nauman.
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Three young women are Fillmore County’s goodwill ambassadors when it comes to all things dairy.

Abby Hopp of Chatfield, Haely Leiding of Fountain and Makala Nauman of Spring Valley share the title of princess for the Fillmore County American Dairy Association.

Together, they travel the county and shine the spotlight on area dairy farmers. Each princess uses her real-world experience to provide that personal touch.

Communication is key for Hopp

“My home dairy farm is a family endeavor and my favorite part about living on a farm is being able to work alongside of my family and share that same love and passion for the cows as I do,” Hopp explained.

The 19-year-old is the daughter of Doug and Heather Hopp. She has lived and worked on Sass Dairy Farms, Chatfield, since she was 7.

“Hard work, compassion and passion are just three of the many qualities I have gained from my farming background,” she added.

Hopp added she and her siblings are responsible for assigned chores on the farm including feeding calves, milking cows and assisting with fieldwork.

Now in college, she is expanding upon her knowledge of the dairy industry. Hopp will be a sophomore this fall at South Dakota State University, where she is studying dairy production and agricultural communications.

“I hope to have a career in the public relations, advocacy or marketing aspect of the dairy industry,” she said. “I want to make a difference in the future of agriculture while raising a family with the farming background.”

In addition to representing Fillmore County as a dairy princess, Hopp was recently named one of 12 statewide finalists for Princess Kay of the Milky Way.

She said her message during June Dairy Month centers around people.

“Every day dairy farmers, agronomists, nutritionists, milk testers, milk haulers, product manufactures, veterinarians and many more hardworking individuals work together for one shared mission,” Hopp commented. “To produce a wholesome, nutritious product for us to enjoy.” 

It’s all in the family for Leiding

“I am the fourth generation of my family’s dairy farm,” proudly commented Leiding.

The 20-year-old from Fountain is part of the Shir-man Registered Holsteins’ family farming tradition. She is the daughter of Todd and Stacy Leiding.

“I love working with my family on a variety of tasks,” Leiding said. “A lot of time during chores or while helping my parents with a task is when we catch up on life and talk about current events.”

She added that the skillset she’s developed from her dairy farm upbringing is serving her well.

This fall, Leiding will begin her junior year at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities. She is studying agricultural education and plans to pursue a career as a teacher.

“I want to help students understand the connection they have to agriculture no matter what background they have,” she said.

Stressing the nutritional benefits of dairy products is a priority for Leiding as she visits with the public.

“I love sharing the nutritional importance of dairy foods,” Leiding explained. “Whether it be yogurt for breakfast, milk with your lunch, or cheese as a snack, all of these carry important nutrients that our bodies require in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

Farm life a newer experience for Nauman

“Farmers are amazing people putting all their time into something they love,” said Nauman of Spring Valley. “When you get a chance, thank a farmer.”

Unlike her co-princesses, 19-year-old Nauman, daughter of Sandy and Gary Wee, did not grow up on a dairy farm.

Her passion got its start about three years ago when she began working on Heusinkveld Farms. She said her interest was piqued when her brother starting working there.

“I honestly love it,” she exclaimed!

Nauman assists with milking on the 400-head operation. She has a special connection with one cow in particular, which she owns and has appropriately named “Princess.”

In addition to her farm work, Nauman attends Riverland Community College in Austin.

“I have not made future plans for sure yet,” she noted. “Right now, I plan to work on the farm and build up knowledge and experience of a great place.” 

Promoting the health benefits of dairy products comes naturally, according to Nauman.

“I have dairy every day,” she stated. “It is so easy to drink a glass of milk or eat a cheese stick.”

Using herself as example, she encourages everyone to take time to visit a dairy farm.

“You will fall in love,” Nauman concluded. “The calf barn is an especially fun place to visit.”