72nd Alice in Dairyland

Abigail Martin

Martin, of Milton, has a passion for all things Wisconsin: good cheese, the Wisconsin Badgers, and her Wisconsin farm family. She is the fourth generation on her family’s registered Holstein farm. It was there that she found a love for dairy cattle, and long summer days at the county and state fairs

Her interest in agriculture led her to pursue a degree in dairy science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. On campus, she was involved in the Association of Women in Agriculture, Badger Dairy Club, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and was on the intercollegiate dairy judging team. She has held previous roles in marketing at the Rock County 4-H, East Central/ Select Sires, and the Babcock Hall Dairy Store. Upon graduation in May 2018, she accepted a role with DeLaval Inc. in their North American marketing and communications department.

“Being chosen as Alice in Dairyland is an extreme honor,” said Martin. “As Alice, I will demonstrate a strong commitment to learning and sharing about our great state and its robust agriculture industry.”

 

Alice in Dairyland is a one-year, full-time public relations professional employed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (WI DATCP). Each year, Alice in Dairyland travels more than 30,000 miles throughout the state, promoting Wisconsin agriculture (stat. 93.40(1) (e) and stat. 93.44 (2)) to various audiences. Additionally, she will conduct hundreds of media interviews, speeches and school presentations.

Alice in Dairyland 

A Tradition for 7 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                                   Evansville

 70                2017               Crystal Siemers-Peterman          Cleveland