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Five agriculturally minded teens will compete for the title of Dairy Princess at the 56th annual District 3 Dairy Princess Contest & Ball on Saturday, April 13 at the Petaluma Veterans Memorial Building.

As a goodwill ambassador for the industry, the Dairy Princess speaks at schools, fairs and various community events, stressing the importance of dairy products.

Makenzie Floyd

Eighteen-year-old Makenzie Floyd is a senior at Sonoma Acadamy who has aspirations of becoming a large animal veterinarian. A resident of Sebastopol, she is the daughter of Linda and Robert Floyd.

An avid volleyball player, Makenzie is also an active volunteer who has successfully raised four companions for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and helped build a school in Ghana for at risk youth with the Disaster Volunteers of Ghana program.

Makenzie has served as 4-H president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and Sergeant at Arms. She won Supreme Senior Replacement Heifer Showman at the 2012 Sonoma County Fair, first place in livestock judging and swine showmanship and a gold pin in the interview skills competition at the state 4-H Field Day.

Though she didn't grow up on a dairy, Makenzie has been volunteering at Beretta Dairy to continue to educate herself and learn all she can about the industry.

"Not growing up on a dairy, the Replacement Heifer Committee allowed me to get to know the dairy industry and develop a love and passion for the animals and business, and for that I am very thankful," said Makenzie. "I wish I had been introduced in to the dairy world earlier and had the land and resources to have my own herd."

Makenzie feels she would be a strong representative for the dairy industry as District 3 Dairy Princess.

"My experience over the years provides me with the unique background to relate to and communicate on a variety of levels with a wide array of people," said Makenzie. "I am resourceful; when I don't know, I find out."

Jessie Peterson

Jessie Peterson, 18, is a senior at Petaluma High School and is the daughter of Lew and Dodie Peterson. She plans to attend Santa Rosa Junior College after graduation, and later transfer to California State University, Chico to study animal science and agriculture. Her goal is to eventually become an agriculture teacher and an FFA advisor at a Sonoma County school. She currently works at Sonoma-Marin Veterinary as a back office assistant.

She has been very involved with Liberty 4-H for the past 13 years and is its current historian. She has served as past president and was named the 2011-2012 Sonoma County 4-H All Star. She is a four-year member of the Petaluma Future Farmers of America and serves as current vice president.

Jessie has always been involved with agriculture, having lived on a small farm all her life. She has raised more than 16 registered and grade Holtsteins.

She entered the Dairy Princess program because of a desire to educate the public about the importance and necessity of agriculture and the dairy industry.

"If selected Dairy Princess, my hope is to not only educate the public on how important the industry is, but to show them," said Jessie. "I hope to achieve this by attending as many events as possible and giving hands-on lessons to children as well as adults. I also want to be a liaison between the producer and consumers to that the consumer understands the importance of the farmers and ranchers."

Francesca Gambonini

Petaluma resident Francesca Gambonini, 17, is a senior at St. Vincent de Paul High School who plans to attend Cal Poly to study dairy science. She is the daughter of Frank and Stacey Gambonini, and a sixth generation dairy farmer. She is also the fifth generation of farmers on the family dairy, Gamlake Dairy. Her great-great grandfather, Silvio Gambonini, was one of the founders and the first president of the Petaluma Creamery.

Francesca's herd consists of 28 registered Holsteins, the majority of which were bred by her. She has traveled to the National FFA convention in Indiana with a team and won the National FFA Dairy Judging Contest. Francesca and her team will be traveling to Edinburgh, Scotland to compete in the Royal Highlands Dairy Judging Contest in June.

She also qualified for the 2011 National 4-H Contest at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisc., where she and her team came in 10th. Francesca has attended multiple State Holstein Conventions to compete in the Dairy Bowl and Jeopardy Contest, along with placing sixth with her team at the 2011 National Holstein Convention in Richmond, Va.

"I have been looking up to the Dairy Princesses all my life and have been waiting to be one," said Francesca.

If chosen as Dairy Princess, she hopes to change people's misconceptions about the dairy industry.

"Misinformed people need to realize how much a dairy farmer loves and cares for the animals, as they are his/her living," said Francesca. "Us dairy farmers would never do anything to intentionally hurt our animals. Milk is also a nutritious source of calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients that are beneficial to all people. As Dairy Princess, I want to educate the public so the dairy industry can combat these misconceptions."

Regina Pozzi

Petaluma High School senior Regina Pozzi, 17, is the daughter of Martin and Sally Pozzi. Her father's family milked a herd of grade Holsteins until 1976. Her family now raises beef cattle and sheep and has a hay brokering business.

Regina has a herd of 25 Jersey cows and one Holstein. She began raising Jersey cows at age 7 when her family purchased a calf at a fundraiser. From there, she expanded her herd by breeding females and purchasing a few more heifers.

She has also become involved in a number of dairy associations, such as the Redwood Empire Holstein Association, California Holstein Association and California Jersey Association. Regina has competed in Dairy Bowl and Jersey Youth Award contests. She has showed cattle at the World Dairy Expo and the All American Jersey Show. Regina is a member of the National Chamption Dairy Cattle Evaluation and Management Contest.

Growing up on a farm, Regina has always had a passion for the dairy industry and advocating for agriculture. She hopes to one day work in public policy or agricultural policy on issues affecting production agriculture.

"I would like to serve as Dairy Princess so I can represent an industry that is so incredible and help to educate the public on the dairy industry," said Regina. "I believe that my qualifications for Dairy Princess include my passion, professionalism and knowledge of the dairy industry."

Callie Marsh

Callie Marsh, 17, is a senior at Petaluma High School and the daughter of Chris and Barbara Marsh. After graduation, she plans to attend Santa Rosa Junior College to study animal science. Her goal is to one day become a veterinary technician. Currently, she is working as a laborer for Marsh Excavating & Grading.

A member of Sonoma Valley 4-H and Petaluma FFA, she has shown her Holsteins at local and county fairs, along with market lambs. She considers her greatest accomplishment as building her dairy herd. She purchased her first registered Holstein at age 11 and now has four registered and five grade Holstein cows.

"What I like best about dairy life and agriculture are the people and lessons I learn every day," said Callie. "I am lucky to be surrounded with such a caring dairy community that helps and supports me with dairy projects and learning about agriculture. As part of the younger generation of the dairy community that is now becoming adults, I feel it is my duty to give back and pass on the lessons that my elders taught me as a young person in the community to the new upcoming generation."

She entered the Dairy Princess program because she heard about what an experience it is, and that it's a good opportunity to promote the dairy industry.

"I want to be Dairy Princess to be a role model to the younger generation and a spokesperson for the dairy industry," said Callie. "As fewer and fewer people are related to the production of their food, I feel that the dairy industry needs a proactive voice to tell the story of how and why dairy products are produced in California."

The "Moo La Lah" themed 56th annual Dairy Princess Contest and Ball begins with the coronation program at 7 p.m. April 13 at the Petaluma Veterans Memorial Building, 1094 Petaluma Blvd. South. The doors open at 6 p.m., with the program at 7 p.m., and followed by a buffet dinner served by Jimmy's Catering Company. Dancing to Goodtime DJ will be from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m.

Admission is $30 adults, $15 children under 12. Ticket sales are limited and no tickets will be sold at the door. Tickets are available for purchase at John's Dairy Supply and Jay Palms.

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