Alice in Dairyland Travel Journal Archive

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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Badger Honor Flight: Part 2
May. 24, 2016

I soon found that many of my conversations with the veterans would follow a similar storyline as my two dairy farmers I met. Many veterans had grown up on a farm or worked at a relative’s during the summertime. I heard stories of threshing grain and milking cows by hand, and plowing fields behind a team of Belgian draft horses. It was big news around town when the first combine was brought to a farm.

On the flight home, each veteran was given a “Mail Call” package of letters from friends and family, reminiscent of the letters from home they would receive while on base. While he was reading his letters, I had the privilege of visiting with Dr. Robert Bradley, an emeritus professor in the UW-Madison Food Sciences Department.

Throughout Dr. Bradley’s 37 years of teaching and research, his focus was centered in the dairy processing industry. He has written a book on butter making and worked closely with scientists in Babcock Dairy Hall. One of his letters in his mail call package was from a former student of his that is now involved in a butter processing facility on the east coast.

For most of my year as the 68th Alice in Dairyland, I have been the one telling the story of Wisconsin’s $88.3 billion agriculture community that we have today. Here, on this trip, I had the privilege and honor of being the one listening and it was an experience I will never forget.

Agriculture is a tie that binds each and every one of us, whether 70 years ago or today at this present moment. Our veterans deserve all the thanks in the world for serving, sacrificing, and giving us the freedom to continue the legacy of our land.

To learn more about the Badger Honor Flight and the Honor Flight network, visit

Badger Honor Flight: Part 1
May. 21, 2016

As we approach the 70th anniversary of Wisconsin’s agriculture ambassador, Alice in Dairyland, it calls to mind days long past and the history contained within seven decades. If we rewind 70 years, our country was just coming out of World War II. It was a time of rebirth and opportunity, where the ties that bind communities were stronger than ever.

I recently had the opportunity to fly to Washington D.C. with the Badger Honor Flight. More than 80 veterans from World War II, Korean, and Vietnam combats were able to travel to our nation’s capital on this flight to see the memorials created in their honor.

Upon arriving at the Madison airport as the sun rose, I quickly made friends. I met two gentlemen whose story I could instantly recognize by glancing at their hands; their rough, knotted knuckles and callouses reminded me of my dad and grandpa’s hands. With proud smirks, they couldn’t wait to tell me that they’ve been Wisconsin dairy farmers their entire lives.

One of the veterans told me how their family bought the farm in 1873 for forty dollars an acre. They milked in a stanchion or tie stall barn and slowly adapted to the latest upgrades in technology over the years. Boy, were they amazed at the thought of the robotic milkers we have on some farms nowadays!

When we touched down in D.C., the veterans were greeted at the terminal with a band and harmonious applause thanking them for their service. We began our trip by watching the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, followed by some time to pay our respects to the fallen at Arlington National Cemetery. Throughout the day, we visited the Marine Corps Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean, Vietnam, and World War II Memorials, as well as the recently built Air Force Memorial.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this unforgettable day!

We'll See You at Lambeau Field...
May. 13, 2016

...for the 70th Alice in Dairyland final interviews!

Each year, a different county in Wisconsin hosts the final interviews that lead to the selection of the next Alice. This year, Dodge County did a wonderful job as hosts for the 69th Alice final interviews. Each month leading up to the final three days, I visited the county to learn more about local agribusinesses and met many of the incredible people that worked for months to prepare for the finals. The 69th Alice will have the privilege of doing so in Brown County!

The committee from Brown County has already been hard at work to prepare for the upcoming year. To celebrate the announcement, I attended a press conference in Brown County to share the news with local media. We had numerous TV stations and journalists there from local newspapers-- it was inspiring to see the support of the community for this landmark event in Alice history!

Stay tuned to to learn more about attending the 70th Alice finale at Lambeau Field.

True Friends of Alice
May. 11, 2016

Exactly a year ago when I was selected as the 68th Alice in Dairyland, I spoke with the media in a press conference immediately following the finale. It was there that I met Bryant Gill for the first time-- who I found out was the Fabulous Farm Babe's brand new assistant for the Farm Report.

A few weeks later we sat down in studio for an interview to share my excitement for the position of Alice and what I looked forward to in being Wisconsin's agriculture ambassador. Over the course of my year, Pam and Bryant and I have talked everything from emus and alpacas to keeping the next generation interested in agriculture. They've even had me on air as a guest market reporter! And finally, during the three day final interviews in Dodge County, we teamed up to do a live broadcast on Pam's Farm Report to highlight the process of becoming the 69th Alice.

It was my honor to present this year's Friend of Alice award to the Fabulous Farm Babe, Pam Jahnke, and the Farm Dude, Bryant Gill. I've learned so much about communicating the story of Wisconsin's $88.3 billion agriculture industry from Pam and Bryant. They've taught me how to connect with consumers and agriculturalists alike by thinking about what reaches the heart and soul on the other end of the radio. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for always welcoming me into the studio and onto the microphone, and for all that you do for the Alice program and Wisconsin agriculture!

And Your 69th Alice in Dairyland Is...
May. 07, 2016

...Ann O'Leary of Evansville! It is my honor to announce to you that our 69th Alice in Dairyland, Ann O'Leary, will continue on the legacy of Wisconsin's agriculture ambassador. Over the course of the interviews, Ann and the top candidates told the story of Wisconsin agriculture through radio, television, panel discussions and interviews. Ann will officially begin her duties as the 69th Alice on June 6th to kick off June Dairy Month right here in the heart of America's Dairyland.

After an unbelievable three days with all of the top candidates, I certainly did not envy the selection panel's job of choosing only one. Prior to going on stage for their final speeches, I told the candidates they were all truly Alice's at heart from the dedication, professionalism, and enthusiasm that we saw for communicating in agriculture already. The journey to becoming the 69th Alice is where each candidate gained life-long skills that will carry into whichever career path they take.

I am so proud of and happy for Ann O'Leary, the 69th Alice in Dairyland. My heart is so full and fulfilled with all of the stories, support, and love for the people within Wisconsin agriculture. It's an honor to pass this opportunity on for Ann as well!

69th Alice Final Interviews: Day 2
May. 06, 2016

I was even more excited heading in to the second day of the journey to becoming the 69th Alice. We've already spent an incredible day in Dodge County learning about their $2.86 billion local agriculture community and we had even more opportunities to do so today!

We started the day right with a coffee delivery from Berres Brothers, the creators of the official 69th Alice Cream Puff Coffee. Next we toured JW Jung greenhouse, Animart, and United Cooperative. In between tours, the candidates interviewed live on-air at WBEV radio in Beaver Dam. Each candidate had the opportunity to share with listeners about their background, their motivations for applying for the job, and their knowledge of Wisconsin agriculture.

The evening concluded with a fantastic representation of what it truly means to be Alice in the public's eye. A discussion panel was held at the beautiful Barn at Windy Pine. The candidates went through 10 rounds of answering to topics and questions within modern-day agriculture. These questions ranged from "How do we keep the next generation interested in agricultural careers?" to "What types of opportunities and challenges do Wisconsin's #1 products face?" Alice encounters these types of questions on a daily basis whether at events, on the radio, or in a classroom.

As each hour passes, I am more and more proud and honored to call these top candidates fellow advocates in agriculture. They are ALL professional, articulate, intelligent, and enthusiastic agvocates for Wisconsin's $88 billion agriculture industry!

69th Alice in Dairyland Finals: Day 1
May. 05, 2016

Today is the day! The 69th Alice in Dairyland final interviews have officially begun in Dodge County. The top candidates arrived early this morning and were briefed on the final schedule of events. We greeted the social media world with our very first Alice 'Live' video on Facebook-- stay tuned to see a few more of the process throughout the next few days.

Similar to my first day on the job as Alice, we hit the ground running. Each candidate began the morning with a television interview, which was recorded in-studio at Watertown TV. We then spent the remainder of the day touring local agribusinesses. It was a jam packed day of learning at Seneca Foods, Grande, and John Deere Horicon Works. At the end of all of the tours, each candidate will choose one agribusiness from a hat and give an impromptu speech at the finale on what they learned!

Today is another busy day filled with tours, a radio interview, and the discussion panel this evening. Stay tuned to Facebook for live videos and photos, as well as the @Alice_Dairyland Twitter for a live tweet feed!

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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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