Hard work and years of involvement in the field paid off recently for a Cambridge native.
Katlyn Kahler, daughter of Wade and Pam Kahler of Cambridge, was crowned the 2014 Pork Princess during the 42nd annual Iowa Pork Congress banquet Jan. 22 in Des Moines.
“I was really excited,” Kahler said of her crowning. “I had been studying since last November and I had put a lot of work and effort into it.”
She became eligible to compete for the state title after being named 2013 Story County Pork Queen last April. Her reign as Story County Pork Queen will conclude in May, while her time as Iowa’s Pork Princess will end in January of next year.
Kahler was up against eight other contestants who had been named pork queen of their county. Though Iowa has 99 counties, only about 70 counties have county-recognized pork producer organizations, and even fewer crown county pork queens, Kahler said was the reason for so few contestants. As part of the competition, each contestant had to give a personal interview, a five-minute extemporaneous speech and a two-minute media interview. Their knowledge of the pork industry was also put to the test during a skillathon. Throughout the competition, they were being watched by two secret judges. Kahler said they knew there would be two secret judges; they just didn’t know who they were.
Prior to the competition, Kahler spent a lot of time reading about the latest news in the swine industry and going over the list of possible topics for the extemporaneous speech. Describing to consumers what pigs eat and how that food effects what is put on consumers’ plates was the topic Kahler drew for the extemporaneous speech the day of the competition. As she was giving the speech, the person holding the timecards, who also happens to be Kahler’s advisor at Iowa State University, accidentally put up the “stop” card, rather than the “3-minute” card, causing Kahler to think she had ran over the 5-minute time limit. After Kahler finished her speech, the timecard holder explained to Kahler and the judges the mistake she made.
“It all worked out,” Kahler said with a laugh.
Her duties as pork princess will include attending the World Pork Expo at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in June and traveling to Washington, D.C., for the National Capital Barbecue Battle. She will also be present during all 10 days of the 2014 Iowa State Fair. In addition, Kahler will make appearances and speak at various counties’ events during the coming year. She and the state pork queen, Sarah Wall of Iowa City, will attend these events together, though some activities may be attended separately depending on the girls’ schedules. Serving as a role model to younger people involved in swine projects is something Kahler said she is proud to do.
“I’m grateful to be representing the pork industry, because it’s something I’m passionate about,” Kahler said.
Some may say involvement in the swine industry is in Kahler’s blood. Several family members have been involved in the industry, including her grandfather, who owned his own hog business. Now she and her younger sister feed out approximately 20 head of hogs to exhibit in shows at the county, state and national levels. Prior to graduating from North Polk High School last year, Kahler showed pigs as a member of the Palestine Peppy Pushers 4-H club and North Polk FFA chapter.
Through her involvement in the swine industry, Kahler has gained a strong work ethic and responsibility skills. Her eyes have also been opened up to the many career opportunities the industry offers. She said the swine industry is growing and will become increasingly essential in the future as the world’s population grows and evolves.
“To be able to be a part of that is something I’m excited to take on,” Kahler said of the industry’s growth.
A freshman at Iowa State University, Kahler is majoring in animal science and hopes to one day work for an animal pharmaceutical company in the swine industry.