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Alice in Dairyland Travel Journal by Kristin Olson

Alice in Dairyland Travel Journal by
Kristin Olson

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

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Clark County Blitz - Day 2
Apr. 15, 2014

Today, I wrapped up a mini school blitz in Clark County. Visits included Neillsville Elementary, St. John Lutheran School in Neillsville, St. Anthony Catholic School in Loyal and Loyal Elementary, where I met with over 160 students.

Before I started my classroom tours, though, I made a pitstop to the WDLB studios in Marshfield. There, I visited live with Bob Meyer about many Wisconsin-ag topics, which included the Growing A Healthy Wisconsin program.

Even though Clark County is a rural area, with many students sharing their experiences of living on farms, they were still eager to learn about the different types foods our farmers grow, as well as the numerous “# 1’s” in Wisconsin, from cranberries to green beans.

Thank you so much to the schools that I visited the last two days - teachers, students and staff - for being so welcoming and for continuing to be strong supporters of Wisconsin’s $59 billion agriculture business!

Returning to Clark County
Apr. 14, 2014

Today, Cornelius and I braved this morning's April snowstorm and headed up to visit our friends in Clark County for Day 1 of a two-day school blitz.

I visited with nearly 150 students today at the Elementary schools in Thorp, Colby and Granton. Being in an area with such a pride and passion for cheese, it was exciting to see the enthusiasm students had for two very special cheeses in Clark County: Colby and Gouda. I explained that not only is Colby cheese a "Wisconsin Original," but a "Clark County Original" as well, which is very special for their communities!

One boy shared that even though he lives on a farm (he shows beef at the fair and helps on his grandpa's farm by "dipping cows" during milking), he still learned a lot of fun things that he didn't know before. This is a great example of just how diverse and complex Wisconsin's $59 billion agriculture community truly is!

Wrapping it up in Winnebago!
Apr. 11, 2014

Today, I visited with over 175 students at Oakwood and Traeger Elementary Schools in Oshkosh.

Before each presentation, I ask the fourth graders to share with me some of the fun things that they’ve learned about the state of Wisconsin so far. Many of their facts included agriculture, from the history of our state’s rich cheesemaking tradition to state symbols, such as cranberries (Wisconsin’s state fruit) and corn (Wisconsin’s state grain), and much more.

I then shared that agriculture was a huge part of our state in 1848 when our state took roots, and it still is to this day in 2014. I concluded by challenging the students to think about all of the things at their next meal that can be traced back to a Wisconsin farm. Our state is so lucky to have such a wide variety of safe, nutritious foods available every day. And the businesses we talk about in Growing A Healthy Wisconsin are just a sample of what Wisconsin agriculture has to offer each of us daily.

Following one presentation, a young boy eagerly raised his hand to thank me for helping to decide what he wants to be when he grows up. I proudly told him it was my pleasure, and when I asked him what his future career was, he shared that he wants to be a cheesemaker and help to create new flavors to add to our state’s 600 varieties, types and styles. What an inspiration!

Thank you so much to the wonderful schools in Winnebago County for welcoming me to your classrooms and allowing me to share the story of Wisconsin farms with over 800 students this week!

Special Students & Special Gems!
Apr. 10, 2014

Approximately 123 fourth grade students learned how to grow healthy with Wisconsin agriculture today at Spring Road Elementary, St. Gabriel and Clayton Elementary Schools, all in Neenah.

I had a great time sharing the story of Wisconsin agriculture with these youngsters and teaching them about the pride and passion that goes into growing and producing the food that ends up on their tables. Not only did I share fun information with the students, but they had some fun stories and connections for me, too. One girl was excited to share that she was born in Colby, WI, which also happens to be the birthplace of Colby cheese. Shortly after, a boy asked me what you would call a cow with no legs. After I pondered his question for a few seconds, he anxiously exclaimed, “Ground beef!” Too cute!

Following my final school presentation this afternoon, I headed across town to the R. Harder Gallery of Gems and Minerals, located in the lobby of Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company, to learn about the beautiful minerals and gems of the world. The seventh largest gem museum in the country, R. Harder Gallery hosts a display of gems and minerals in their natural forms, including several beautiful amethysts, a gem that is displayed in the Alice in Dairyland tiara and brooch.

The Wisconsin Jewelers Association (WJA) provides the gold tiara and brooch which I proudly wear to represent our state’s mining, a special piece of agriculture. The tiara is made of 14k gold and platinum. The center stone is a pear-shaped amethyst and the side stones are pear-shaped citrines. There are 90 diamonds set in platinum in the center scallops of the tiara. Both the amethyst and citrine are gems indigenous to Wisconsin, which is something very special for our state. In 2004, the WJA designed and donated a jeweled brooch for Alice in Dairyland to wear on the top of her sash. The brooch is two-tone 14k gold with a pear-shaped amethyst and two pear-shaped citrines. With its three arched sections that are hand engraved with a diamond pattern, the brooch allows Alice to share the history of the tiara while providing flexibility for the diverse variety of situations she encounters on the job.

It was fun to learn about the history behind gems and minerals and take in their natural beauty. Specimens on display at R. Harder Gallery are some of the rarest in the country and world. The gallery is open to the public during regular business hours on Monday through Friday, so be sure to take in all of the wonder if you’re in the Fox Valley!

School Visits Continue in Winnebago Co.
Apr. 09, 2014

The fun continued today in Winnebago County as I met 155 more fourth grade friends. Visits today included Spring Road Elementary in Neenah, Gegan Elementary in Menasha and Jacob Shapiro Elementary and Valley Christian School in Oshkosh.

Many of the students were surprised that Wisconsin is #1 in the nation, and even the world in some cases, for many different types of products. One of those crops is oats. A grain we almost always eat as a breakfast cereal and one that can help to lower our cholesterol, oats are a great thing to include in our diets each day to provide us with enough whole grains. I explained that although we love this grain, most of what is grown in Wisconsin is used to feed our animals or livestock, however we do grow more than any other state. I also joked that even though we're America's Dairyland, we could also have many other nicknames in Wisconsin, including 'America's OATland!'

Winnebago Blitz - Day 2
Apr. 08, 2014

Today, I visited with over 150 fourth grade students at Omro Elementary School and Franklin Key to Learning School in Oshkosh.

The students were filled with excitement for learning about Wisconsin agriculture. One highlight for many was learning how cranberries go their name. Our official fruit has been a part of Wisconsin even before 1848 when the state officially took root and was first discovered by the Native Americans who named them 'craneberries.'

The cranberry is one of the special commodities featured in the presentation that has a video to help explain the crop even further. In the video, students were able to see what the blossom of a cranberry looks like, which also is how cranberries were named. It was fun to hear so many "ooh's" and "ah's" after pointing out that a beak and face of a crane could be seen in each blossom, a blossom that eventually will end up on our tables as a craisin, juice, jam or more!

Growing A Healthy WI visits Winnebago Co
Apr. 07, 2014

All this week, I'm visiting classrooms surrounding the western shore of Lake Winnebago in Winnebago County.

Today, I made friends with almost 200 fourth graders at St. Margaret Mary School in Neenah, E. Cook Elementary in Oshkosh and Winneconne Elementary in Winneconne.

Only a handful of students raised their hands today when I asked if any live on farms. I shared, though, that even for those who didn't raise their hands, they still are impacted by our agriculture community. This also helped to demonstrate the fact that the average American is now 5 generations removed from production agriculture, which is why it is so important that we help to share our stories to create a better understanding of how food ends up on the kitchen table!

Monthly Visit with Michael Stevens
Apr. 06, 2014

The first Sunday of the first full weekend each month brings with it a visit to see my friends at NBC 15 in Madison.

Today, Michael Stevens and I were 'thinking spring' as we discussed the opening of many Farmers Markets statewide in the upcoming weeks. Our state is home to over 250 Farmers Markets, including the largest producer-only market in the country - the Dane County Farmers Market.

These markets are a great way to showcase our state's diverse agriculture business, as they offer an abundance of fresh produce - from apples to zucchini - as well as many other year-round products.

Learn more by visiting, and catch my full segment with Michael here.

View Travel Journal Archive
- Apr 14 - Mar 14 - Feb 14 - Jan 14 - Dec 13 - Nov 13 - Oct 13 - Sep 13 - Aug 13 - Jul 13 - Jun 13 - May 13 -

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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