May 23 2012 07:03 AM

Miss Oklahoma kicks off event by encouraging young women to share their story.

Betty Thompson felt like she had the odds stacked against her when she ran for Miss America. "I was the little farm girl with a milk dud platform that wasn't tall enough to win," she said.

But, this Oklahoma farm girl sorted her way to 1st Runner Up in the 2012 Miss America pageant. Now, she travels the U.S. promoting her platform: "Milk, it really does a body good." This weekend, she made a trip to the Minnesota Dairy Princess Promotion event in St. Joseph, Minn., to remind young women that while their story may seem small, they shouldn't be afraid of sharing it.

On Friday evening, Thompson stood before a crowd of nearly 100 young women from across Minnesota as well as princesses from Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Her speech kicked off a weekend full of engaging presentations and sessions meant to equip young women with the tools needed to advocate for the dairy industry.

During the weekend, Minnesota princesses had the option to compete for one of 12 finalist spots for Princess Kay of the Milky Way, the official goodwill ambassador for the Minnesota dairy industry. During a banquet on Sunday afternoon 12 young women found out they would join the nearly 450 prior princesses who have sat in a rotating cooler while Linda Christiansen, a butter sculpting extraordinaire, creates their likeness in a 90-pound block of butter. The tradition of sculpting princesses in butter at the Minnesota State Fair has been around since 1965. Not only is it a source of pride for Minnesota dairy farmers, it also engages the thousands of fair visitors who pass through the dairy building.

While Minnesota dairy producers love finding out who will sit for the 12 signature butter sculptures, greater benefit for the dairy industry after this event is that nearly 100 young women went home ready to promote agriculture in a changing society.