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Alice in Dairyland Travel Journal by Ann O'Leary

Alice in Dairyland Travel Journal by
Ann O'Leary

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

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School Blitz - Week One
Jan. 13, 2017

Each year, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection partners with the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board to teach 4th grade students about Wisconsinís rich history in agriculture. As Alice I get to travel the state and bring this presentation to nearly 100 different classrooms.

Itís tough for me to believe my first week of school visits is already over! What a joy it has been getting to visit 4th grade classrooms and to teach the students about agriculture. This weekís travels took me to Orfordville, Evansville, Lancaster, Platteville, Pardeeville and Portage. As part of the presentation, I play a trivia game with the students. I give them two clues such as ďItís our official state beverageĒ or ďwe all need 3 servings of this every day for strong bonesĒ and they then guess they get to guess which crop or product related to agriculture Iím thinking of in the state.

The answers arenít always correct and Iíve had many laughs over the past three days in each of the classrooms Iíve presented to. One of my favorite responses was after asking for the food that we grow to eat for breakfast either hot or cold. I was looking for the answer ďoatsĒ, but a student guessed Pop-Tarts instead. Needless to say we all had a good chuckle and then went on the rest of the game.

Iím looking forward to the remaining school visits and cannot wait to hear what other guesses and questions the students have! Follow my adventures via social media on the Alice Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Pages.

A Fair Event
Jan. 12, 2017

Last night I was surrounded by fair lovers at the 2017 Wisconsin Association of Fairs convention. We were all there to celebrate those that dedicate their time to Wisconsinís 76 unique fairs, and the selection of the 2017 Fairest of the Fair - Rebecca Starkenburg.

I was very excited to be there because my home county fair, Rock County 4-H Fair, has a lot to do with how I became Alice in Dairyland. Some of my fondest memories occurred at the fair grounds and itís where I fell in love with Agriculture. The county fair is also the first place I met an Alice in Dairyland. I remember watching Alice speak in the show ring to fair goers and wishing I could be her someday. Well that day has finally come and I couldnít be more excited to have visited many fairs this summer to promote Wisconsinís $88.3 billion agriculture industry.

At the Brown County Fair, I read stories about Wisconsin farms to children in the agventure tent and watched their faces light up when they saw my tiara. Attending the Rock County Fair was a wonderful homecoming and allowed me to thank many of the people that helped me get started in agriculture. Proud 4-H and FFA members told me stories about working with their animals at the Sheboygan County Fair. And of course there was the best 11 days of my summer Ė state fair.

Having these county fairs and state fair is so important to expose people to Wisconsinís agricultural industry. With the average consumer 3 to 4 generations removed from the farm, county and state fairs may be the only time they get to interact with our stateís signature industry. It offers them an opportunity to ask questions and learn about the diverse aspects of Wisconsin agriculture, bridging the gap between farmersí gates and consumersí plates.

Click here to learn more about the Wisconsin Association of Fairs and when your county fair will be held.

A Worldwide Powerhouse in Agriculture
Jan. 09, 2017

While Wisconsinites are very proud of our stateís agricultural commodities, and recognize that our state is well known throughout the U.S. for being number one in cheese production, they may not be aware of what a powerhouse Wisconsin is around the world when it comes to farming.

Every year, Wisconsin exports around $3 billion of agricultural products to nearly 145 countries across the globe. This value puts us in the top 15 within the United States for agricultural exports. Some export products may surprise Wisconsinites. For example, our state exported over $2 million of pickles in 2015; making Wisconsin the top exporter of pickles within the United States. Would you be surprised to know that Wisconsin is the top exporter of mink pelts in the country? Wisconsin mink ranchers consistently produce the highest quality mink pelts in the world, making Wisconsin mink highly sought after.

Sausage, ginseng roots, and cranberries round out the other export products Wisconsin ranks number one in the nation for. Wisconsin produces roughly 90 percent of the nationís ginseng supply, and 58 percent of the nationís cranberry supply each year.

Wisconsin is truly a powerhouse when it comes to agriculture and itís no wonder the rest of the world finds value in our products. Join me and learn more about Wisconsin agricultural exports by visiting the international agribusiness page within the international agribusiness page on the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection website.

The Search is On
Jan. 03, 2017

The start of 2017 marks the halfway point for my adventure as the 69th Alice in Dairyland. I have loved every minute of my journey and couldnít be more thankful for the people Iíve met and the places Iíve been able to go to.

Some highlights from my year have included State Fair, industry tours and the media campaigns. Iíve loved hearing the stories Wisconsiniteís have about our agricultural industry, ranging from retired farmers that use to milk their cows by hand, to kids fresh out of school aspiring to follow in their parentís footsteps. There is something special about Wisconsinís agricultural industry and being Alice has reminded me of that fact every day.

While I donít want this journey to end, it is time to start searching for my replacement. The 70th Alice in Dairyland will be selected on May 13th at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Applications open today and are due on February 6th at 4:30 PM.

This position represents the adventure of a lifetime. Not only do you get to learn about and promote Wisconsinís agricultural industry, but you also have the chance to explore career options and network with professionals every day. Being Alice helps you grow as a communicator, hone in on marketing and public relation skills and travel the state.

Donít miss out on your chance, apply to become the 70th Alice in Dairyland today! Application information can be found online at

Winter in America's Dairyland
Dec. 20, 2016

Not sure if you have noticed, but winter has officially hit Wisconsin. With wind chills below zero and at least 8Ē of snow on the ground, it is tough to deny that weíve hit the coldest time of year.

Yesterday, as I was traveling to my monthly TV interview in Wausau in the bitter cold, I passed by many Wisconsin farms. While I was inside my warm vehicle, our stateís dedicated farmers were out doing their chores braving the cold. It is those moments that remind me how thankful I am for farmers and all of their hard work to provide safe and sustainable food for Wisconsin homes. Farmers cannot take a snow day or wait to go outside until it warms up because they have animals relying on them.

Yes, even in the bitter cold of Wisconsin winters, agriculture is still hard at work. Each year, the industry contributes $88.3 billion to our stateís economy and helps provide food and jobs for citizens. Whether itís a winery fermenting their next batch, or a dairy farm milking their cows, a lot of aspects of Wisconsin agriculture are still churning during the winter months.

So next time you get to cozy up next to the fire and enjoy a warm meal, remember to thank our Wisconsin farmers for all their hard work year round.

Hixton Blue Collar Cafe & Jam
Dec. 15, 2016

Here in Wisconsin, we proudly call ourselves the cheese heads. Whether we are eating cheese and crackers or enjoying grilled cheese and tomato soup, cheese is intertwined into many of our favorite meals. If youíre beginning to be bored by the same old cheese trays or simple grilled cheese, take your holiday platters to the next level by including some jam from Hixton Blue Collar Cafť.

Based out of Hixton, Hixton Blue Collar Cafť serves up their gourmet jams during lunch and dinner, while also selling them at retailers throughout the state. Released in 2004, their family recipe jams have been perfected to add a little kick to your meals. Not only are they a fruit jam, they also contain Habanero peppers for some extra flair. They offer 6 different flavors, ranging from rasbanero to cranbanero to an orange-pineapple marmanero.

Spreading these jams on toast or adding them to your grilled cheese sandwich is a great way to add a ďuniquely WisconsinĒ flair to your everyday cheese trays. Learn where you can purchase these jams at

Santa on The Farm
Dec. 14, 2016

Last night, in the bitter cold, I was surrounded by the warmth of holiday cheer in Kaukauna at ďSanta on the FarmĒ.

The event was hosted at Milk Source in their Genetics barn and included Santa, some elves, two reindeer, a sleigh and of course Ė cows! It was so fun to see the kidsí faces light up when they sat on Santaís lap and then watch their smiles grow as they walked into the barn and spotted all of the cows. After they were finished admiring the animals, they received cookies and milk. Iím sure many of them ate that cookie quickly and will be leaving some freshly baked cookies and a glass of milk out for Santa over Christmas.

That glass of milk left out at nearly every home for the man in red contains 9 essential nutrients that will help keep him nice and strong. Those nutrients include niacin Ė which helps the skin, protein Ė which builds strong muscles, and calcium Ė which builds strong bones and teeth. Last year, Wisconsin produced over 29 billion pounds of milk. Thatís enough milk to fill nearly 54 billion 8 ounces glasses!

Iím sure Santa will get his three servings of dairy on Christmas Eve and I hope you do too.

Wisco Treats
Dec. 13, 2016

Many people during the holiday season not only give presents to their family members, but also give something special to their pets. Whether itís a new scratching post for the cat to play with or a special bone for the dog, spoiling our pets is just part of the holiday season. For anyone out there with more unconventional pets, finding something to spoil them with may be difficult. I donít have any suggestions for lizards or rats, but I do have a product from Something Special from Wisconsin that is perfect for horses.

Wisco Treats, based out of Abbotsford, produces a wonderful homemade horse treat that is a good way to spoil your large four-legged friends. One container contains 20 treats. The treats are made from grain, molasses, and alfalfa. They are a half dollar size which makes them easy to give and for your horse to eat.

Find out more about Wisco Treats by calling 715-316-3592 or emailing

View Travel Journal Archive
- Jan 17 - Dec 16 - Nov 16 - Oct 16 - Sep 16 - Aug 16 - Jul 16 - Jun 16 - May 16 - Apr 16 - Mar 16 - Feb 16 -

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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