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On the Road - January

After some time with friends and family over the holidays, I jumped right back into business as usual in January.

The first order of business was the opening of the 77th Alice in Dairyland applications. I traveled to groups around the state to share my Alice in Dairyland experiences, encouraging others to be agricultural advocates. Over the next few months, applicants will be narrowed down to the Top Candidates, who will attend a press briefing, join weekly marketing communications trainings, submit components showcasing their skills, and then bring it all together for the 77th Alice in Dairyland Finals, to be held in Door County May 2-4, 2024. Tickets will be available at soon.

In addition to recruitment visits, I traversed the state visiting media to share information about two of Wisconsin’s top crops: ginseng and potatoes. Wisconsin is the top producer of cultivated ginseng in the United States, producing 95% of the nation’s supply. Ginseng is used in many recipes, and I showcased (and enjoyed) a cherry smoothie made using bananas, spinach, shredded coconut, vanilla extract, Greek yogurt, blueberries, cherries, and Wisconsin ginseng powder. This took place ahead of the Chinese New Year, which runs February 10 through February 24, a time when ginseng is often given as a gift.

More potatoes are grown in Wisconsin than in any other state east of the Mississippi River, and we are third overall in the nation for potato production. To celebrate this delicious and nutritious staple, I visited with schools as part of the Wisconsin Potatoes in the Classroom program, made possible by the Wisconsin Potato Growers Auxiliary. I shared information about the history of potatoes worldwide, different varieties of potatoes grown in Wisconsin, and more about how we grow potatoes. Students weren’t the only ones learning about potatoes this month, as I visited media sharing my Cheesy Chili Stuffed Baby Red Potato Bites using ingredients such as baby red potatoes, chili, cream cheese, shredded Cheddar cheese, and sliced green onions as a way to level up your next gathering.

Continuing with the theme of education, the Badgerland Girl Scouts and I focused on science and dairy product processing. We learned more about where milk comes from, what milk can be processed into, and the science behind how dairy products are made at Seven Acre Dairy. Together with the local Girl Scouts troops, we practiced making cheese and even tried the homemade cheese curds. They were a big hit!

My monthly visit to Door County was another memorable one. I learned so much at each tour and am getting more excited for the Door County Finals with each visit! Salmon's Meat Products, located in Luxemburg, started in 1915 as a way to offer smoked meat products to the local community. The Ebert family purchased the business in 2020 and are carrying on the tradition of producing high-quality meats like sausage, ham, bacon, and seasoned raw beef. The Ebert family of Ebert Enterprises raise dairy and beef at the highest standard of care. Located in Algoma, Randy and Renee Ebert are sixth generation farmers, while their children, Whitney and Jordan, are the seventh generation. We had the opportunity to tour their cattle harvesting facility and visit the farm, which includes an 80-cow rotary milking parlor. We also visited Olson Family Farm, started in 1872 in Sturgeon Bay. Rich Olson and his brother, Eric, along with their families, are the fifth generation on the farm raising registered Holstein dairy cows. We had the chance to see dairy technology in action, watching their cows being milked in a robotic milking system.

Highlighting specialty crops, a visit to Country Ovens, LTD in Forestville was a treat! They were established in 1987 by Mike and Kathy Johnson and are well known in the Door County area for their Cherry De-Lite Natural Dried Tart Cherries, as well as other products, such as their chocolate covered dried cherries, pie filling, cherry juice, BBQ sauces, and more. We concluded the day at Homestead Kitchen & Tap in Algoma. Also owned by the Ebert family, Homestead establishes a “farm to fork” connection with the local community through each step of the farming process.

Rounding out the month were a few community events to help celebrate agriculture. I attended the first annual WRJC Farmer Appreciation Dinner in Juneau County. This event shows support for the area’s incredible farmers and ranchers to produce wholesome food and other products for us to enjoy. The event featured Charitee Seebecker with the Midwest Farm Report, along with representatives of the Juneau County Farm Bureau, Juneau County Land and Water Department, Mile Bluff Medical Center, Farm Well Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Farm Center, and Compeer Financial. I loved the chance to catch up with many familiar faces and foster new connections in agriculture.

I attended my first Janesville Jets hockey game at their annual Ag/FFA/4-H Night. Sponsored by Blain’s Farm and Fleet, this event was a great way to connect with local community members and hockey fans about Wisconsin agriculture. 4-H and FFA members and I connected during the game and intermissions. I also caught a ride on the Zamboni in between game periods, where I learned truly how fast a Zamboni can go!

It was quite an honor to attend the 100th Wisconsin Association of Fairs Convention. The day’s activities included presenting to the Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs contestants about Alice in Dairyland and Wisconsin agricultural commodities, attending their evening banquet, and seeing the newest Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs, Kelsey Henderson, be crowned!

On to February to bring more education, celebration, unique opportunities, and memorable experiences. I cannot wait!


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