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Alice in Dairyland Travel Journal by Zoey Brooks

Alice in Dairyland Travel Journal by
Zoey Brooks

2811 Agriculture Dr. PO Box 8911
Madison WI 53708-8911
Phone (608) 224-5115

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Warrens Cranberry Festival
Sep. 26, 2014

For the past 42 years, a small town of 360 people welcomes over 120,000 visitors for the world's largest cranberry celebration. Warrens Cranberry Festival draws visitors from all across Wisconsin and the country to learn more about the cranberry industry, try delicious cranberry products, and do lots of shopping!

The festival boasts three miles of vendors and offers just about every food that can be made with cranberries. I sampled cranberry sundaes, chocolate covered cranberry cheesecake on a stick, and deep fried cranberries, to name a few!
I was also able to sample fresh, raw cranberries straight from the bog during a tour of neighboring marshes. I will be returning to these marshes in early October to tag along for harvest!

It was great to share the importance of cranberries with attendees of the festival, along with a few fun facts. We grow enough cranberries in Wisconsin to supply every man, woman, and child in the entire world with 26 cranberries each and one out of every three cranberries in the world can be traced back to a Wisconsin bog. It's our state's official fruit for a reason!

Happy World School Milk Day!
Sep. 24, 2014

Here in Wisconsin, milk is celebrated every day of the year. But today is an OFFICIAL celebration of milk not only here in our state, but across the WORLD. "World School Milk Day" is recognized in over 40 countries and aims to promote milk as a healthy beverage choice in schools. I visited Creekside Elementary in Sun Prairie today to join their celebration.

I spoke with students about why milk is so important for our bodies and the nine essential nutrients that it provides. I brought along with me a giant milk carton that contained nine clues as to which nutrients these are. Almost every student could identify calcium- which had a set of teeth as a clue!

I was also able to visit a Kindergarten classroom at Creekside to read them a book on all the different colors found on farms and was able to share with them a treat of delicious milk from Sassy Cow Creamery. The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board was also present to hand out books, magnets, and bookmarks for each student. All in all, today was a great celebration of Wisconsin's official beverage!

Monroe Cheese Days
Sep. 20, 2014

It's a festival so big that it only occurs every other year. Cheese Days in Monroe draws visitors from all across Wisconsin and neighboring states to celebrate the city's Swiss heritage and of course, delicious cheese!

This year was extra special as Monroe celebrated its 100th anniversary. I was able to help craft cheese the old fashioned way in giant copper kettles, cheer on attendees in the milking contest, and debut Wisconsin's new economic impact number- $88 billion, of which the dairy industry contributes $43 billion!

I was also able to taste test the infamous Cheese Days deep-fried cheese curds. The line for these curds ran three blocks down the street and they go through more than 4,000 pounds of cheese each day. I have to say, they were the best cheese curds I've tried and they definitely have the "Alice" seal of approval!

Baraboo 8th Grade Career Day
Sep. 16, 2014

It's never too early to start planning your future and deciding what you want to be when you grow up. Students at Baraboo Middle School were getting a head start on this at their 8th Grade Career Day, put on by the local Baraboo FFA. Local businesses set up at the Sauk County Fairgrounds to talk with students about the various opportunities in their fields.

Presentations ranged from welding to horticulture, to horses, and everything in between. I was able to talk with the students about career opportunities in agriculture. When I asked the students what came to mind when they think of a "farmer", responses included: Hick, straw hat, and tractor. They were shocked to learn that I was a farmer, even in my dress and heels. It was great to open their eyes to what farming and agriculture is today and the vast amount of job opportunities the industry offers. I reminded them that you don't need to be a farmer to be involved with this industry.

I also made a visit to Epic's annual "User Group Meeting", who's theme this year was "Down on the Farm". My fellow colleagues from DATCP were on site to share fun facts about Wisconsin agriculture with more than 17,000 guests from across the country. For many, it was their first time to Wisconsin and they were interested in knowing what makes us America's Dairyland. Thank you to Fromagination out of Madison for showcasing local Wisconsin cheesemakers throughout the event!

Conservation Observance Day
Sep. 12, 2014

Each year, the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association recognizes one Wisconsin farmer who goes above and beyond to protect and enhance our state's natural resources on their farmland. This individual or family is named Wisconsin's "Conservation Farmer of the Year".

This year's Conservation Farmer of the Year was Joe and Marian Smith of Smith Farms in Eau Claire County. Conservation is of utmost importance in this area, as farmland includes steep slopes and is close to waterways. Joe and his family have been incorporating no-till planting, strip cropping and contour farming to conserve the soil of these slopes and prevent runoff into neighboring streams.

Conservation Observance Day is hosted each year by the farm bestowed this honor. We started the day by touring several areas of Joe's farm that focused on his conservation ethics. We observed the stellar soil health in his fields, the water absorbency of this soil, the non-existent runoff, and the crystal clear stream running through the farm chalk full of brook trout. We also enjoyed a delicious lunch and were able to hear local conservationists and supporters speak on the importance of conservation.

Today was extra special to me as my family farm was awarded "Conservation Farmer of the Year" last year and we were also able to host this event on our farm. It was great to meet the Smith family and learn more about their dedication to conservation. I left feeling inspired that our farmland is in good hands and will continue to be productive for our future generation of farmers!

Thank you Zimbal Family!
Sep. 09, 2014

Today I joined the Kettle Moraine Mink Breeders at their annual golf outing in Sheboygan. This is a chance for mink ranchers, industry representatives, and supporting businesses to network and socialize, while also getting a round of golf in!

While I'm not the world's greatest golfer, I gave it my best shot. It was a great chance to get to meet many of the faces behind Wisconsin's mink industry and learn more about their operations. I was also able to see the Zimbal family once again. I met Bob and Linda, and their daughter Valerie, when I visited Zimbal Minkery back in June.

A tremendous thank you goes out to the Zimbal family as they generously donated the pelts for my coat this year. I was presented with this coat at the banquet following the golf outing and I can't say thank you enough! It is truly an honor to represent this unique sector of Wisconsin agriculture and I look forward to proudly showcasing this industry throughout this year. I'm positive the coat will come in handy this winter- maybe even as early as the end of this week!

Soybeans, Sheep, and the Zoo
Sep. 07, 2014

This morning I kicked off my September Soybean Campaign with a visit to NBC 15 in Madison. I shared the various uses for Wisconsin grown soybeans, as well as a few recipes. Soynut butter can be made from roasted soynuts, soybean oil, water, and a bit of salt and is a protein-packed spread that can be used on sandwiches, toast, or as a dip. I also showcased "Coolbean- The Soybean", a book published in part by the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board. This book breaks down the science behind the planting, growing, and harvesting of soybeans in a fun way for a younger audience.

It was also Family Farm Weekend at the Milwaukee County Zoo and I made a stop at the zoo to visit with families who came to learn more about agriculture. The Milwaukee County Zoo is home to the sole operating dairy farm in Milwaukee and features daily milking demonstrations and interactive exhibits. Kids were also able to try their hand at milking a cow, pull in a mini-tractor pull, and learn about bee-keeping.

My last stop of the day took me to Jefferson for the final day of the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival. This event draws in visitors from across the Midwest to showcase the fiber industry. I was able to learn about different breeds, see the variety of wool products produced, and even feed a two day old lamb! The sheep industry in Wisconsin is unique in that it provides us with both food and fiber in a sustainable manner. Some breeds of sheep are even able to provide the trio of wool, milk, and meat. As the temps drop here in September, it may be time to break out my wool socks!

From Football to Farms
Sep. 06, 2014

I was back to my Badger roots this morning at WALSAA's annual Football Fire-Up. Along with me were several former Alices who are also UW alumni. It was during my time in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences that I developed my passion for promoting Wisconsin agriculture and sharing its message. It was great to be back with faculty, students, and alumni who share this same passion.

From there, I headed to Mount Horeb for the first annual Midwest Health Expo. I encouraged attendees to "Re-Think Your Drink" and choose white or chocolate milk as a healthy alternative to sugary drinks. The average American consumes about 125 pounds of sugar each year. Choosing chocolate milk reduces sugar intake while providing calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.

I ended the night in Evansville at the Wisconsin Farm to Table dinner, hosted by Larson Acres. This dinner aims to connect consumers with the farmers who bring food to the table and to also highlight the diversity of Wisconsin agriculture. Local chef Tyler Sailsbury prepared locally sourced ingredients such as beef, pork, green beans, and corn into a delicious, 5-course dinner. All proceeds from this dinner benefit the Rock County Junior Holstein Association. Thank you to all who attended and made the event a success!

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Contact the Alice In Dairyland Program at:
2811 Agriculture Dr. PO Box 8911
Madison WI 53708-8911
Phone (608) 224-5115

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