The evening of May 11, 2019 will forever hold a special place in my heart. That night, in an auditorium filled with members of the Wisconsin agriculture community, I heard my name called to serve as our state’s 72nd Alice in Dairyland. Now, almost 15 months later, it is hard to believe my time as our state’s agriculture ambassador is coming to a close.
As my incredible journey nears its end, I am filled with pride for Wisconsin’s $104.8 billion agriculture community. Throughout my year as the 72nd Alice in Dairyland, I have met the people, visited the places, and tasted the products that make our industry so special. Whether I was spending time with a first-generation turkey farmer, visiting a potato field during harvest, or trying a new apple variety, I loved discovering agriculture diversity around every Wisconsin corner.
Highlights from my year are hard to narrow down – believe me, I made a full-page list – but a few stand out above the rest. Filling iconic Wisconsin State Fair cream puffs with cream, sampling countless foods made from cranberries at the Warrens Cranberry Festival, and my first-ever attempt at tapping a maple tree all rank high. I also fondly remember getting lost in an ‘Alice in Dairyland’ corn maze at Pearce’s Farm Stand, eating a full meal of ginseng (salad, tea, main course and all) in Marathon County, and cutting a 200-pound wheel of Swiss cheese at the World Championship Cheese Contest.
With every mile I drove, I was fueled by Wisconsin’s corn growers. Thanks to the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board, I traveled in style in an E85 Ford Explorer nicknamed Kernel. At each stop I made, I was easily recognizable thanks to the iconic brooch and tiara donated by the Midwest Jewelers Association. And when the temperatures dropped this winter, I was proud to stay warm in a real, Wisconsin mink fur coat, courtesy of the Kettle Moraine Mink Breeders Association and the Halbach Mink Ranch. Thank you to all three of these great Alice in Dairyland program partners.
In addition, I am grateful for the Alice in Dairyland program’s continued partnership with the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. As I promoted dairy farmers, processors, and products throughout our state, their organization was there with me every step of the way. I am truly thankful for their support.
Though I may be biased, I honestly believe Wisconsin agriculture is second to none. From top-notch producers, to innovative processors and industry-leading researchers, Wisconsin agriculture commodities consistently find their way to the top. As I spoke with consumers throughout our state, it didn’t matter if I was talking quantity, quality, or diversity of our products, because Wisconsin agriculture hits the mark for all three.
To my colleagues at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, who have dedicated their lives to the success of our state’s agriculture industry, I say thank you. Your knowledge, guidance, and words of encouragement supported me from beginning to end.
My most important message of thanks goes out to my friends and family, who journeyed this road with me. Whether listening intently in the audience during a presentation, standing behind the camera snapping that perfect shot, or increasing my social content’s visibility with a ‘like’ or a ‘share’ – ‘my people’ have supported me every step of the way.
From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate everyone who has shared this adventure with me; whether we met at a dairy breakfast, the county fair, or never in person, but instead through my Adventures in Agriculture blog – know that I am grateful for you. As I complete this once-in-a-lifetime year, I say thank you to everyone who made my time as Wisconsin’s 72nd Alice in Dairyland truly unforgettable.
Stay Cheesy, Wisconsin!