2/16/2013 7:00 AM
By Jennifer Merritt Va. Correspondent
ROANAKE, Va. — Kristina Callender was crowned Virginia’s new dairy princess during the 2013 Virginia State Dairymen’s Convention on Jan. 31. The pageant was held at the Hotel Roanoke Thursday night before most of the convention’s public events and was judged by Megan Seibel, director of Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results, and Allen Sisson, a dairy farmer from Shawsville,Va.
Callender is 17 years old and the daughter of Donald and Teresa Callender. She got interested in the dairy princess program by talking to 2012 Virginia dairy princess, Molly Elgin.
“I was at a function with Granddad and got a chance to talk to Molly,” Callender said. “I thought it (serving as dairy princess) would be different and a fun thing to do to support the dairy industry.”
Callender, her sister, Kelly — who was crowned a dairy maid at the event — and her cousins are the seventh generation to work on her family’s dairy farm in Harrisonburg, Va. The farm has been in the family for 135 years and Walkup Holsteins is truly a family affair. In addition to her grandparents, Dan and Charlotte Meyers, and her parents, Callender’s uncle, D.J. Meyers, works on the dairy. The family farms almost 400 acres inside the Harrisonburg City limits and are spokespeople for SUDIA’s Dedicated to Dairy program.
“We have 130 registered Holsteins that we milk two times a day,” Callender said. “My sister and I bring the cows in from the field when it’s milking time, and I’m responsible for the animals we show.”
Callender has been showing dairy cattle since she was five years old and she’s a member of the Virginia Junior Holstein Association. She is active in her local 4-H Creative Chefs Club and participates in the 4-H Interstate Exchange Program.
“Two summers ago, I went to Minnesota,” Callender said. “Last summer, they came here. Our accents are very different, but they do things similarly to how we do them in Virginia.”
This summer Callender hopes to go to Kansas with the exchange program. She is also an active member of the local FFA chapter, and her agri-science project placed first in the state and received a bronze medal at the National Agri-Science Fair.
Callender loves to read and spend time with friends.
“I like anything you give me to read,” said Callender. “I’ll give anything a try.”
In addition to her interest in animals, Callender is also interested in criminal justice. She plans to attend Blue Ridge Community College to take her core classes and after that decide which career path to pursue. But first she has a year of reigning as Virginia’s dairy princess to enjoy.
“I hope to educate the public and become more comfortable speaking to larger crowds,” Callender said.
In addition to the dairy princess, six new dairy maids were crowned during the pageant: Abie Auandee of Keezletown, Va.; Ryanne Welsh of Keezletown, Va.; Kelly Callender of Harrisonburg, Va.; Hannah Craun of Bridgewater, Va.; and Ella Warns and Isabelle Warns, both from Keezletown, Va.
The Virginia dairy princess program is actively looking for new contestants both for dairy princess as well as dairy duchess and dairy maids.
Program coordinator Jennifer Leech spoke to convention attendees during the dairy awards luncheon.
“What you don’t know about the dairy princess is probably the most important part. She talked to Matt Lohr on your behalf, promoted dairy to students in Richmond and attended the Apple Blossom Festival. People think you need to live on a dairy farm to participate,” Leech said. “You don’t; you just need to have a family member involved in the dairy industry.”
Interested girls and their families can contact Leech at jleech<\@>vt.edu for more information on Virginia’s dairy princess program.