||Alice in Dairyland Travel Journal by Ann O'Leary
Alice in Dairyland Travel Journal by
2811 Agriculture Dr. PO Box 8911
Madison WI 53708-8911
Phone (608) 224-5115
Jun. 04, 2017
It is difficult to believe that my year as the 69th Alice in Dairyland is already coming to an end. It feels as though I was just on stage, heart beating out of my chest, waiting for my name to be called. Right now, most of my days as Alice are a blur, but there are some moments that remain clear in my mind. These moments cannot be defined by the number of events or the miles driven, but rather by the impressions they have left on my heart.
Like the moments when retired farmers told stories about the “good old days” and little girls proudly exclaimed “my first autograph” after signing a post card for them. The moments when I was given bibs to experience aquaculture up close in a pond of trout or to hop in a potato harvester. It was listening to 4th graders guess what healthy foods we grow in the state and hearing FFA students proudly speak about their Supervised Agricultural Education (SAE) projects. These moments reminded me why I wanted to become Alice and inspired me to dive deeper into Wisconsin agriculture.
Each day as Alice has brought a new adventure or experience, but I could not have done this journey alone. The Alice in Dairyland program partners helped ensure I always had an agricultural talking point on hand. My family and friends were there every step of the way to laugh about Alice stories and to chat during my long drives.
But of course, my year as Alice would not have happened without the support of Wisconsin’s agricultural community. Maya Angelo once said, “People won’t remember what you said, people won’t remember what you did, but they always remember the way you make them feel.” To the Wisconsin agricultural community, thank you for making me feel at home and for letting me serve as your 69th Alice in Dairyland. It has been such an honor to represent your $88.3 billion agriculture industry every day.
Celebrate! It's June Dairy Month
Jun. 02, 2017
Did you know Wisconsin was home to the first ice cream sundae?
According to the National Register of Historic Places, Two Rivers was the birth place of this beloved concoction. Back in 1881, Ed Berner of Two Rivers, was asked to put chocolate sauce used in ice cream sodas on top a dish of ice cream. The creation quickly gained popularity and was only sold on Sunday’s at Ed’s soda fountain, hence the name ice cream sundae. Soon the sundae could be bought every day of the week and it spread across the nation.
Whether you like chocolate sauce or strawberry toppings on your ice cream sundae, eating one during the month of June is a perfect way to enjoy the rich tradition of Wisconsin’s dairy industry. So next time you are in the store and have a hankering for the perfect ice cream sundae…remember, the best foundation starts with Wisconsin ice cream.
Learn more about June Dairy Month Celebrations at dairydaysofsummer.com
Arlington Research Station
May. 25, 2017
Today I delivered my final report to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. Their meeting was being held at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station and I had the opportunity to take a tour of the facility prior to my speech.
As the managers and researchers of different areas of the site explained the work they were doing, I was in awe of how complex agricultural research can be and how dedicated the research scientists are to helping improve the productivity, sustainability, and profitability of Wisconsin farmers. Each year, around 325 – 350 agricultural research studies are conducted in the state of Wisconsin. At Arlington, the studies focus on animal health, genetics, and productivity, as well as soil health and crop yields.
The first stop on the tour was the Arlington Dairy Farm. It is home to 500 milking cows, 100 dry, and about 100 calves under 12 weeks old. Their milking parlor has technology that allows them to track how much milk each cow gives and the change from days prior, as well as the milk let down rate. This information combined with their ability to track feed intake gives researchers the chance to observe a wide variety of important dairy topics life feed efficiency and milking productivity. They also have beef, sheep, and swine farms as well.
Our second stop was to the crop plots. The research station was opened in the mid-1950s, of which, some plots are still on the same continuous study today. Through their work, scientists are able to study what nutrients are being added or removed from the soil multiple growing seasons. Researchers are even able to look at the soil on a microscopic level and study the microflora that are present in the soil and observe how different plants effect microbial populations.
After the tour, my mind was spinning from the sheer amount of data the station is generating to help propel Wisconsin farmers into the next realm of productivity, sustainability and profitability.
If you’d like to learn more about their research or visit the site yourself, you can visit their website
Photo 1: Research Feed Bins Controlled by RFID Tags
Photo 2: Fields for Beef & Crop Research
The Final Blitz
May. 23, 2017
Last week marked my final 4th grade classroom visit for the Mapping out a Healthy Wisconsin program. This joint effort between the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection brings agriculture into classrooms across the state.
Over a 12 week period, I visited nearly 10,000 4th graders teaching them about healthy food we grow in Wisconsin and ways to incorporate these foods into their diets to stay healthy and strong. My travels took me to Rock, Milwaukee, Dane, Langlade, Waukesha, Washington, Ozaukee, Sheboygan, Eau Claire, Shawano, Jefferson, Brown, Superior, and Ashland Counties. No matter where I was located in the state, the kids were always excited to learn and share their agricultural stories.
From the young boy that yelled “I love cheddar cheese!” when he discovered we rank number one in the nation for production to the little girl that asked for my autograph on a sticky-note with “my first Alice” written on top, the students I visited brought me joy every day. While I did most of the teaching, they helped me rediscover my sense of agricultural curiosity and pushed me to learn more.
While my visits may be done, the memories will last for a lifetime. Hopefully the 4th graders will remember a thing or two as well.
If you or anyone you know may be interested in having this program come to their school, visit the Wisconsin Dairy Council
The 70th Alice in Dairyland
May. 16, 2017
This past weekend was a whirlwind of events for the 70th Alice in Dairyland selection. Early Thursday morning the six top candidates arrived in Green Bay to begin their three day job interview.
Candidates kicked off day one with their radio and television interviews. After, we toured Belmark Printing, Greenleaf Landscaping, and Wayside Dairy. Once the industry tours were complete, we stopped at the state’s only aquaculture farm and winery – Trout Springs Winery – for dinner with the planning committee. Day two included tours of Winfield Solutions, JBS, and Schreiber. We capped the night off with the discussion panel to showcase each candidate’s agricultural knowledge. The final day of interviews included the interview panel and final program where each candidate delivered two speeches and the 70th Alice in Dairyland was selected.
While the interview process was intense, each candidate did an excellent job of representing Wisconsin agriculture. Over the next week, I will highlight the companies we toured to give you some insight into their work, but right now I’d like to introduce the 70th Alice in Dairyland, Crystal Siemers-Peterman.
Siemers-Peterman found her passion for Wisconsin’s diverse agricultural industry on her family’s registered Holstein dairy farm. She was actively involved in the Manitowoc County Junior Holstein Association, Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association, and Manitowoc County 4-H. Through these organizations, she represented Wisconsin at national competitions in both dairy quiz bowl and dairy judging. She will graduate in May from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a major in agricultural and food business management and a minor in marketing. Previously, she interned at Sassy Cow Creamery, FLM+ Advertising Agency, and Land O’Lakes Inc. On campus she was involved in the National Agri-marketing Association, National Grocers Association, and Gopher Dairy Club.
“As Alice in Dairyland, I will promote positive messages about Wisconsin’s agricultural products to both rural and urban audiences,” said Siemers-Peterman. “I will use my various experiences, education, and outgoing personality to deliver consistent messages about Wisconsin’s agriculture industry to diverse audiences.”
Crystal will begin her official Alice duties on June 5th. Until then, I will keep traveling the state to share the story of Wisconsin agriculture. Learn more about the Alice in Diaryland program at aliceindairyland.com
The Finals are Finally Here!
May. 10, 2017
I cannot believe it, but the 70th Alice in Dairyland finals are already here. It seems like the candidates were meeting at the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection for their briefing yesterday. Over the last six weeks, they have been busy preparing for the three-day job interview that will start tomorrow in Green Bay.
During the three-day selection process, the candidates will participate in industry tours, conduct a television and radio interview, give two presentations, and participate in a discussion panel and interview panel. Their knowledge of Wisconsin agriculture, marketing, and public relations will be put to the test as they embark on the path to becoming the 70th Alice in Dairyland.
While tickets for both Friday night’s discussion panel and Saturday night’s final program are sold out, you can stay up to date with what is happening by following Alice in Dairyland on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also watch the final program live through wisconsinagconnection.com.
Learn more about the finals at aliceindairyland.com
The New Age of Farming
May. 02, 2017
The approach of spring marks the start of many things in the state of Wisconsin. We start to see warmer weather, trees begin to bloom, and more tractors are on the road.
With the warmer weather in tow, farmers are looking forward to getting out into their fields and sowing the seeds for this coming year’s crop. To do this, many farmers rely on technology to help them be as efficient and sustainable as possible. Examples of this technology include GPS guided planting, “heat” maps for fertilizer application, and a variety in crop genes.
GPA guided planting is a technology that has been out for a while that helps farmers’ efficacy with planting. By using GPS, many of their tractors are able to drive themselves in a straight line without a farmer’s guiding hand on the wheel. This means that their rows are straighter, which in turns maximizes the area of the field available to planting.
“Heat” maps for fertilizer application use this same type of GPA technology; however, the data referenced during the growing season was collected during the last harvest. This type of information gives farmers an insight into which areas of their fields may need additional fertilizer or other nutrients during the growing season. Farmers can use this data to lower costs by strategically applying nutrients to the areas of the fields that really need it and wasting their resources on areas that do not.
Finally, the variety in crop genes available to farmers allows them to choose seeds that will help increase yields in their fields. Whether they are looking for a crop that is more drought resistant or has a strong stalk strength to withstand high winds, the variety in genes gives them options.
To learn more about these technologies and other’s available to Wisconsin farmers, visit wifarmtechnologydays.com
Kelly Wilfert, 70th Alice Top Candidate
Apr. 24, 2017
The final 70th Alice in Dairyland top candidate to introduce you to is Kelly Wilfert.
Kelly’s background in agriculture stemmed from her upbringing on her family’s 700-acre farm in Two Rivers. She was heavily involved with her family’s production of fresh market fruits and vegetables, cash grain and processing carrots. Additionally, she was active in both 4-H and FFA and served as a Wisconsin State FFA Officer. Kelly is in her senior year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and will be graduating in May with a bachelor’s degree in life sciences communication and agricultural economics. In her spare time, Kelly volunteers for the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center’s Exhibit Development Committee.
Kelly states, “My lifelong goal is to help bridge the gap between producers and consumers in Wisconsin agriculture. Every job in Wisconsin agriculture supports 1.46 jobs elsewhere in the state, bringing us all together around the dinner table. Coming from within the agricultural community, it would be an honor to serve as Wisconsin's agricultural ambassador and share the immense impact of our industry with people of all ages and backgrounds.”
Now that all six top candidates have been introduced, join me at the Alice in Dairyland finals to cheer them on and watch one of them become the 70th Alice in Dairyland. Learn more about the upcoming Alice in Dairyland finals at aliceindairyland.com
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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