Francesca Gambonini, a sixth generation member of a Sonoma County dairy farming family who has plans to become a dairy cattle geneticist, is the new District 3 Dairy Princess, becoming the goodwill ambassador for the North Bay dairy industry for the next year.
Francesca was crowned Dairy Princess before a large crowd of dairy industry members, their families and friends, on April 13 at the Veterans Memorial Building in Petaluma.
Retiring Dairy Princess Suzanne Amaral of Sonoma, an agriculture student at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, ended her reign by turning over the crown to Francesca and wishing her well as she represents the North Coast dairy industry throughout the coming year.
Francesca will represent District 3, which includes Sonoma, Marin, Napa, Lake, Mendocino and Solano counties. As Dairy Princess, she will play an important role on the California Milk Advisory Board’s Communications Services team in meeting community relations objectives.
The Dairy Princess Pageant is co-sponsored by the North Bay Dairy Women and the California Milk Advisory Board.
Francesca, the daughter of dairy farmers Frank and Stacey Gambonini of the Gamlake Dairy in Petaluma, is a senior at St. Vincent de Paul High School in Petaluma. She plans to enroll at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo this fall to study dairy science, preparing for a career as a dairy cattle geneticist. She was recently named co-valedictorian for her graduating class at St. Vincent High School where she is a top student, receiving honors for academic excellence in subjects ranging from literature to biology.
Francesca also is a member of Petaluma FFA’s national championship dairy cattle judging team, which will represent the United States in international dairy cattle judging competition this June in Scotland.
Jessie Peterson, the daughter of Lew and Dodie Peterson of Petaluma, was selected First Alternate Dairy Princess. Jessie, a senior at Petaluma High School, raises dairy cattle as a member of the 4-H and FFA.
Mackenzie Floyd, the daughter of Robert and Linda Floyd of Sebastopol, was named Second Alternate Dairy Princess. She is a senior at Sonoma Academy and raises dairy cattle as a member of the 4-H.
Jessie and Mackenzie will assist the new District 3 Dairy Princess in her duties, which include speaking on behalf of the California dairy industry at schools, service clubs, with the media, and at numerous public events throughout the year.
In addition, the Dairy Princess and her Alternates will attend a training session, including presentation skills, a Milk Advisory Board orientation, and a tour of a processing facility.
Dairy Princess contestant Callie Marsh, a senior at Petaluma High School, was awarded the Isolena Maestretti “Miss Vitality” award, named for a beloved dairy woman who was involved in the Dairy Princess Pageant for many years. This award is voted on by all the contestants and goes to the candidate who is the most outgoing and helpful during the day’s events.
The new dairy princess won the $500 Florence Gilardoni Memorial Scholarship in recognition of her academic achievements. Daniel Charles, a SRJC agriculture student from Petaluma, was awarded the $500 Bernice Hadermann Memorial Scholarship.
Regina Pozzi, a senior at Petaluma High School, was the fifth contestant in the competition for District 3 Dairy Princess.
Dairy rancher Judy Buttke of Petaluma is the chairperson of the District 3 Dairy Princess contest and ball, a position she has held for the last 20 years. She was honored with a crown of her own and flowers for the time and effort given to keep the Dairy Princess Ball a time honored tradition in the Sonoma-Marin Dairy Belt.
Milk production is a leading agricultural endeavor in Sonoma and Marin counties, where generations of families have operated family dairies for well over a century. In Sonoma County, milk is second only two wine grapes in farm value.
California is the nation’s leading milk producer. It also produces more butter, ice cream, yogurt and nonfat dry milk than any other state. Dairy products made with Real California milk can be identified by the Real California Milk seal, which certifies that the products are made exclusively with milk produced on California dairy farms. The state is the second-largest producer of cheese, which is available nationally under the Real California Cheese seal.