A Tradition for Seven Decades

From its inception for Wisconsin's centennial year to today's high-tech age of instant communications via social and traditional media, the Alice in Dairyland program has grown and changed with the times.

In 1948, Alice was a beauty queen fresh out of high school. Today, she is professional public relations professional with at least four years of experience or education in agriculture, public relations, communications, or related fields. Beyond individual communication skills, the list of job requirements includes knowledge about Wisconsin's diverse agriculture and products, history, resources, and rural-urban issues. Alice is expected to work effectively with colleagues, the media, and the public. She develops her own educational materials, speeches, and presentations.

In that very first year, the program beat the bushes in rural Wisconsin looking for Alice contestants, and judges narrowed the field to 16 finalists based on photos alone. Today, the call for applicants goes across the state to colleges and universities and Wisconsin’s array of agribusinesses.  Early Alice contests drew hundreds of entries. Today, a rigorous set of professional skill requirements and qualifications narrows the field from many applicants to as many as six candidates.

The process of choosing Alice has changed substantially over the six decades of the program. The selection criteria that first year was simply ‘beauty and health, general personality, and ability to present herself and her message before large groups.’ By the late 1950s, the selection process began in May and culminated in August. Four “Alice princesses” were named in June, and they spent the next two months in a constant job audition until Alice was named in August.  Today, Alice in Dairyland is a marketing professional by any and all standards. In the first round of the selection process, applications are evaluated on resumes, personal interviews, and communications ability. If she meets these criteria, she still has to impress a selection panel during the three-day finals where she is evaluated on public speaking, personal interviews, TV and radio interviews, and agribusiness tours.

Over the years, Alice in Dairyland has grown to adapt to the changing face of agriculture and the contemporary world. Even so, she remains a unique custodian of Wisconsin's proud agricultural tradition and dynamic voice for agriculture's future. 

Alice      Year          Alice in Dairyland                      _Hometown     

 ​1           1948         Margaret (McGuire) Blott            Highland

​ 2           1949         LaVonne (Hermann) Nesheim    Mount Horeb

​ 3            1950        Virginia (Peterson) Bahe             Union Grove

​ 4            1951        Marjean (Czerwinski) Dillon       Milwaukee

​ 5            1952        Beverly (Steffen) Brunner          Appleton

​ 6            1953        Mary Ellen (Jenks) Jordal           Chippewa Falls

​ 7            1954        Mary (McCabe) Knight                 Ladysmith

​ 8            1955        Barbara (Brown) Rynders           Independence

​ 9            1956        Doris (Olsen) Underkofler           Brooklyn

​ 10          1957        Nancy (Trewyn) Prosser             Whitewater

​ 11          1958        Barbara (Haslow) Townsend      Chili

​ 12          1959        Merrie Barney                              Burlington

​ 13          1960        Joan (Engh) Flax                          LaCrosse

​ 14          1961        Carol (Anderson) Koby                Superior

​ 15          1962        Sylvia (Lee) Kafkas                      Colfax

​ 16           1963       Marilyn (Draeger) Draeger-Frey Fort Atkinson

​ 17           1964       Beth (Bartosh) Pisula                  Burlington

​ 18           1965       Kathy (Kenas) Beauchaine         Rosendale

​ 19           1966       Jo Ann (Cupery) Nordstrom       Markesan

​ 20           1967        Kristin (Williams) Gramando     Colgate

​ 21           1968        Roberta (Thoreson) Eagles        West Allis

​ 22           1969        Judith (Schultz) Tobolski           South Milwaukee

​ 23           1970        Susan Masterson                       Janesville

​ 24           1971        Marsha Lindsay                          Manawa

​ 25           1972        Deborah Moser                           Wausau

​ 26           1973        Mary (Hopkins) Hopkins-Best   Cumberland

​ 27           1974        Joana (Markevicius) Smocke    Pine River

​ 28           1975        Deborah (Del Balso) Touw         Brookfield

​ 29           1976        Janice (Findlay) Aiken                Burlington

​ 30           1977         Karyn (Nelson) Schauf              Barron

​ 31           1978         Laura (Oldenberg) Drendel       Burlington

​ 32           1979         Rebecca Powell-McCarthy        Baraboo

​ 33           1980         Vicky Scharlau                           Waumandee

​ 34           1981         Debra (Casucci) Crave               Beloit

​ 35           1982         Dorothy Farrell                          Oregon

​ 36           1983         Barbara (Ward) Ward-McCrory Fort Atkinson

​ 37           1984         Cynthia Johnson-Hesse            Oregon

​ 38           1985         Lisa (Hoesly) Behnke                Juda

​ 39           1986         Liz Henry                                    Dane

​ 40           1987         Kristine (Gratz) Welsh               Darlington

​ 41           1988         Rebecca Plantz                          Ladysmith

​ 42           1989         Stephanie Binversie                  Wauzeka

​ 43           1990         Kim (Nettesheim) Flitcroft        Elkhorn

​ 44           1991         Renea (Troeller) Heinrich         Rubicon

​ 45           1992         Kristan (Conrad) Collins            Green Bay

​ 46           1993         Angela (Corbin) Tuthill              Belleville

​ 47           1994         Angela (Rule) Udelhofen           Mineral Point

​ 48           1995         Jolynne (Nagel) Schroepfer     Antigo

​ 49           1996         Holly (Meudt) Crowley               Walworth

​ 50           1997         Courtney (Ott) Booth                 Forest Junction

​ 51           1998         Jennifer (Hasler) Meyer           Monroe

​ 52           1999         Amy (Fischer) Brown                Loyal

​ 53           2000         Roxanne (Westphal) Peelen     Oconomowoc

​ 54           2001         Sheri Hicken                              Baraboo

​ 55           2002         Angela Hemauer                       Plymouth

​ 56           2003         Natalie (Parmentier) Killion     Green Bay

​ 57           2004         Betsy Francoeur                        Merrill

​ 58           2005         Gena Cooper                              Mukwonago

​ 59           2006         Nicole (Franzen-Reese) Barlass Sheboygan Falls

​ 60           2007         Jill Makovec                               Muscoda

​ 61           2008         Ashley (Huibregtse) Andre       Plymouth

​ 62           2009         Cheryl O'Brien                           Eastman

​ 63           2010         Christine Lindner                      Beaver Dam

​ 64           2011         Katie (Wirkus) Haas                  Athens

​ 65           2012         Rochelle (Ripp) Schnadt           Lodi

​ 66           2013         Kristin Olson                              Fond du Lac

​ 67           2014         Zoey Brooks                               Waupaca

​ 68           2015         Teyanna Loether                        Sauk City  

 69           2016         Ann (O'Leary) Gundlach            Evansville

 70           2017         Crystal Siemers-Peterman      Cleveland

 71           2018         Kaitlyn Riley                               Gays Mills

 72           2019         Abigail Martin                            Milton