Gadient keeps busy as Jones County Dairy Princess

The Jones County Dairy Banquet was held earlier this year on Feb. 11. Royalty was announced including, first row from left: Kylee McElmeel, 2017 Little Miss Squirt; Drew Ricklefs, 2017 Little Sir Dairyman; Claire Bergfeld, 2016 Little Miss Squirt; and Keegan McElmeel, 2016 Little Sir Dairyman. Second row: Grace Gadient, 2017 Jones County Dairy Princess; Katelyn Goldsmith, Iowa Dairy Princess; and Darby Kramer, 2016 Jones County Dairy Princess. (Express file photo)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     If you spend any time at all with Jones County Dairy Princess Grace Gadient, two things are blatantly obvious: She knows her stuff when it comes to the dairy industry, and she has a passion for the business.

     Gadient was crowned Dairy Princess in February of this year during the Jones County Dairy Banquet. She said after attending the banquet last year, she offered to serve as Dairy Princess this year if no one came forward.

     “Last summer, I was told I was selected,” she said.

     This role comes with a lot of responsibilities; Gadient knows her summer before she heads off to college will be a busy one.

     “It’s all about promoting dairy products, dairy in general, and sharing my experiences in the dairy industry,” explained Gadient.

     She has community events to attend, including visiting some of the libraries in Jones County.

     “I’ve been invited to read books and talk about my experiences (in the dairy industry),” she said. Gadient will be at the Monticello Public Library on June 21, and the Anamosa library on June 24.

     She’ll be seen throughout the Jones County Fairgrounds in July, promoting dairy products.

     Just this past weekend, Gadient was at Fareway in Monticello handing out free ice cream to customers on a hot day.

     Gadient has high ambitions. She recently attended a dairy princess workshop that teaches participants about public speaking and promoting the dairy business. Gaident said she plans to run for the state dairy princess title as well, something no one from Jones County has ever won before.

     Gadient’s parents, Bill and Melissa, got out of the dairy business when Gadient was about 7 years old. During her senior year, they got back into it, with Gadient taking on some of that responsibility herself.

     “It was my grandma who taught me how to milk actually,” shared Gadient.

     In fact, she is a third-generation dairy farmer. Bill bought the farm from his parents, Gary and Katy Gadient.

     “I plan to take it over some day,” said a hopeful Gadient.

     With school over, Gadient said they’ve been able to rearrange their milking schedules, balancing milking twice a day with her duties as Dairy Princess, and a part-time job at St. John’s Day Care in Monticello.

     “Mom and I do all of the milking,” she said.

     They milk twice a day, which Gadient said is just perfect.

     “You don’t want to over do it,” she said of excess milking. “Twice a day keeps the cows healthy and helps produce a better product.”

     During her senior year, they would rise early in the morning and milk at 5 a.m. Gadient would head into town for a full day of school, put in some time at St. John’s, then head back home for milking at 5 p.m. This was followed by play or track practice, depending on the time of year.

     “It got very chaotic,” said Gadient. “We were always moving and stayed busy.”

     With her two younger sisters busy running in track (Grace threw discus and shot put), Gadient said they had to change their milking times so Mom and Dad could attend track events. They would milk at 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.

     “That got to be long hours,” she said of not getting to bed until late in the night.

     Now, they milk at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., and Gadient said she takes over when her parents want a night out.

     The Gadients have 92 Jersey cows, and milk 76 of them right now. They also have 40 calves, half of those male and half female.

     “The males we’ll raise as steers for profit,” said Gadient.

     She said she finds the Jerseys to be calmer and tamer than Holsteins, which they used to raise.

     “They’re just easier to work with,” she said.

     In the fall, Gadient plans to attend Kirkwood Community College for pet grooming and veterinary assistant. An internship at the Monticello Vet Clinic, set up through Workplace Learning Connections, gave her a first-hand experience working with animals.

     “I just enjoy animals and spending time with them,” she said.

     The internship allowed Gadient to assist during surgeries by giving shots, shaving the animal before a surgery, and closing the incision with stitches. She also assisted at OB appointments with the births of calves.

     After college, Gadient plans to continue working on the farm.

     “This definitely teaches me responsibility and real-world experience,” she said of balancing so much in life. “But it’s very enjoyable.”


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