Makayla Toste is proud and passionate about her family’s dairy heritage.

Makayla is the oldest of the three Toste children. Growing up on her family’s dairy farm, she loved spending her summer and school vacations hanging out on the dairy. She assisted with feeding the cows, administering medications, and helping with office paperwork. Makayla’s favorite job is feeding the baby calves which she described as playful with a sense of humor.

Once the calves are born, they are taken to a special pen. This is an area that draws quite a bit of criticism from animal activists. Makayla was quick to educate me as to the reasons why dairies do this. First, it is a protection for the calf after the mother gives birth. The mother cows can become agitated because they are tired and for the safety of the baby, they remove them. Secondly, the baby calves need to be bottle fed. Separating the calves also allows them to closely monitor the progress of their health and development.

Baby calf in a pen.   Baby calf in a pen.

Makayla knew from a young age that she wanted the dairy industry to be part of a lifelong profession. She joined the 4-H program when she was 11 years old. This is a hands-on program where students compete in subjects like science, agriculture, health, and civic matters. Makayla was also very active in the Gustine High Future Farmers of America (FFA). FFA is an organization that helps prepare students for a career and teaches leadership skills through agriculture education. She was the recipient of the Robert Pires Memorial Trophy which is presented every year to a senior who is very involved in enjoys and shows in livestock competition. Makayla competed in the FFA dairy judging competition which took her and three other classmates to the Royal Highland Show in Scotland where she and her teammate placed 4th.

Makayla was the first in her family to attend college and decided to turn her enthusiasm for the dairy industry into a career. She attended Modesto Junior college and then transferred to Fresno State where she graduated in 2019 with a degree in Animal Sciences. She was an officer in the Fresno State Dairy Club where she was an ambassador promoting both Fresno State’s dairy science program and the dairy industry itself. During her senior year, Makayla was the Fresno State Herd Manager for the dairy unit which is 100% student run

Makayla working at the Fresno State dairy unit.  Photo by Cary EdmondsonMakayla working at the Fresno State dairy unit. Photo by Cary Edmondson
Makayla working at the Fresno State dairy unit.  Photo by Cary EdmondsonMakayla working at the Fresno State dairy unit. Photo by Cary Edmondson
Makayla working at the Fresno State dairy unit.  Photo by Cary EdmondsonMakayla working at the Fresno State dairy unit. Photo by Cary Edmondson

In 2017 Makayla was selected as the District 6 Dairy Princess. The California Dairy Princess Program is an opportunity for young women to represent the dairy industry promoting a positive image for milk and dairy products. Contests are held every year in each district throughout California where contestants must appear before a panel of judges. They are judged and selected based on how well they know the dairy industry as well as their ability to speak in front of a public audience. These ladies often appear at business and agriculture events serving as representatives for the California dairy industry.

2017 District 6 Dairy Princess.  Photo by Stephanie Baker Photography2017 District 6 Dairy Princess. Photo by Stephanie Baker Photography