ALBANY, Ore. — As far back as she can remember, Gracie Krahn has been living and working with dairy cattle.
Her father, who managed the Oregon State University Dairy Research Center for 13 years, once performed a caesarean section on a pregnant cow with Gracie, then a baby, strapped to his back. She competed in her first open junior livestock show at the age of 4, showing a Jersey heifer named Annie Bluebell.
Krahn, now an 18-year-old senior at Santiam Christian High School in Adair Village, Ore., was recently crowned the 62nd National Jersey Queen by the American Jersey Cattle Association, promoting the breed and U.S. dairy industry at events across the country.
“I really want to tell the story of what truly happens on the farm,” Krahn said. “This is a position to give back.”
Krahn and her family — father Ben, mother Amy and sister Clancey — operate Royal Riverside Farm in nearby Albany, Ore., which opened in 2018 as the only farmstead creamery in the Mid-Willamette Valley. The farm milks 15 cows, mostly Jerseys, and bottles milk for sale at over 25 local stores from Hood River to Eugene.
“My sister and I are sixth-generation dairy farmers,” Krahn said. “It is really in our blood.”
Growing up, Krahn spent many months and holidays helping her father milk and feed cows at the OSU Dairy Farm. She came to love being around the animals, especially Jerseys, for their “sweet but spicy” personalities and rich milk high in butterfat and protein.
“There’s not a better way to grow up than around agriculture and around livestock,” Krahn said.
Both Krahn and her sister have competed in countless livestock shows, exhibiting cattle and hogs. In 2013, Krahn, then an eighth-grader, participated for the first time at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis., which she described as an incredible experience.
Two years later, Krahn won intermediate showmanship at the All-American Dairy Show in Louisville, Ky., while sister Clancey won junior showmanship, becoming the first siblings in show history to accomplish that feat.
Yet as much as she likes working with the animals directly, Krahn said her passion is sharing her expertise with others and mentoring younger members of 4-H and FFA. She plans to run for Oregon FFA state president at this year’s convention, and has already been accepted to Oklahoma State University, where she plans to study agricultural communications and animal science.
Serving as National Jersey Queen is another platform to tell agriculture’s story, Krahn said. She was selected from a group of nine women on Nov. 9 at the Jersey Junior Banquet in Louisville.
“I knew that my passion and love for the Jersey breed ran as deep as anybody’s,” Krahn said. “I’m super blessed that I’m here now.”
In addition to traveling to and meeting consumers at several national events — including the American Jersey Cattle Association and National All-Jersey annual meeting June 24-27 in Portland, her own backyard — Krahn is also responsible for managing the National Jersey Queen Facebook page, posting photos and factoids about her yearlong journey.
“Every time I get a chance to advocate for milk or promote the dairy industry, I hop on it,” she said. “That’s really where my heart lies.”