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Alice in Dairyland Travel Journal Archive

Alice in Dairyland Travel Journal by
Crystal Siemers-Peterman


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

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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


Kaitlyn Riley, 70th Alice Top Candidate
Apr. 21, 2017

Introducing Kaitlyn Riley – 70th Alice in Dairyland Top Candidate.

Kaitlyn grew up on her family’s registered Jersey farm near Gays Mills, Wisconsin. Her passion for the agriculture industry stemmed from years of showing cattle at the local, state, and national levels. She attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison for a degree in strategic communications and broadcast journalist, graduating in 2014. After graduation, Kaitlyn served as the 48th Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs, promoting Wisconsin’s fair industry across the state. She currently works as a multimedia journalist with WQOW in Eau Claire and continues to promote agriculture by volunteering for the Crawford County Dairy Promotion Committee.

Kaitlyn hopes as Alice in Dairyland she can “become a student and a teacher. [She] wants to learn from the many faces of Wisconsin's diverse $88.3 billion agriculture industry and share their stories with urban and rural audiences. No matter how many generations people may be removed from the farm, [her] goal is to inspire all to return to their agricultural roots and have a better understanding of food, fuel and fiber production in Wisconsin."

Learn more about the upcoming Alice in Dairyland finals at aliceindairyland.com


Crystal Siemers-Peterman, 70th Alice Top Candid.
Apr. 20, 2017

The next outstanding top candidate to introduce you to is Crystal Siemers-Peterman.

Crystal hails from Cleveland, Wisconsin where she grew up on her family's registered Holstein farm. Growing up, she was actively involved in the dairy industry participating in the Manitowoc County Junior Holstein Association and Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association. Additionally, she represented the state at national competitions in both dairy quiz bowl and dairy judging. While studying agricultural and food business management at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Crystal participates in the National Agri-marketing Association, National Grocers Association and Gopher Dairy Club.

Crystal hopes to “promote positive messages about Wisconsin’s agricultural products to both rural and urban audiences” as Alice in Dairyland. “[She] will use my various experiences, education, and outgoing personality to deliver consistent messages about Wisconsin’s agriculture industry to diverse audiences.”

Learn more about the upcoming Alice in Dairyland finals at aliceindairyland.com


Alexis Dunnum, 70th Alice Top Candidate
Apr. 19, 2017

It is my pleasure to introduce the third 70th Alice in Dairyland top candidate – Alexis Dunnum.

Alexis grew up in Wisconsin’s Driftless Region on her family’s fourth generation organic beef and crop farm. Her knowledge of agriculture was enhanced by her involvement in the Nerison 4-H Club and the Westby FFA, as well as by showing beef, swine and poultry at the county fair. After high school, Alexis began attending University of Wisconsin – Madison for a double major in life science communications and Scandinavian studies. On campus, she is actively involved in the Collegiate FFA, the Association of Women in Agriculture, and the UW Marching Band. In the spring of 2016, Alexis was able to take her schooling and interest in environmental studies to Norway through a study abroad program. While there, she traveled the countryside independently, interviewing farmers about sustainable agriculture.

Alexis hopes to become Alice to “promote positive messages about Wisconsin’s agricultural products to both rural and urban audiences.” She “will use [her] various experiences, education, and outgoing personality to deliver consistent messages about Wisconsin’s agriculture industry to diverse audiences.”

Learn more about the upcoming Alice in Dairyland finals at aliceindairyland.com


Jenna Crayton, 70th Alice Top Candidate
Apr. 18, 2017

The second top candidate for the 70th Alice in Dairyland to introduce is Jenna Crayton.

Jenna grew up on the last family-owned and operated dairy farm in Milwaukee County in the city of Oak Creek. Her background is in dairy and commercial-type show lambs. Growing up, she served as a junior member, 4-H ambassador and sheep leader in the Racine County 4-H program. In 2013, she served as the Racine County Fairest of the Fair and in 2010, as the Racine County Farm Bureau Ambassador. In May of 2015, she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in communication with a double emphasis in interpersonal organizations and public relations from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. After graduation, her passion for agriculture took her to Texas Tech University, where she is working on a master’s degree in agricultural communications.

Jenna states, “As Alice in Dairyland, my goal will be to educate the public about Wisconsin's diverse $88.3 billion agriculture industry through its rich history and stories. Through education I hope to bridge the gap between Wisconsin's producers and consumers to promote agricultural understanding and advocacy."

Learn more about the upcoming Alice in Dairyland finals at aliceindairyland.com


Abrielle Backhaus, 70th Alice Top Candidate
Apr. 17, 2017

Over the next week, I would like to introduce you to the six top candidates that are vying for the 70th Alice in Dairyland. Be sure to check back daily for a brief background on each of these outstanding women!

The first candidate to introduce you to is Abrielle Backhaus. Abrielle grew up in Kewaskum on a dairy farm with her parents and two brothers. She was an active member in Washington County 4-H and FFA, taking advantage of travel opportunities and leadership roles with each organization. After high school, Abrielle attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater to study journalism and graduated with her bachelor’s degree in 2016. Her knowledge of writing and passion for agriculture lead her to the role of assistant editor at the Agri-View newspaper, where she works today.

In her own words, Abrielle wanted to pursue the role of Alice because “Every day we learn something new, especially in the constantly evolving agriculture industry. As an ambassador for Wisconsin's agriculture, my goal is to share the stories of those who work daily to make the $88 billion agriculture industry so strong. I want to educate and encourage consumers to know the diverse faces of its producers and agriculturists, and that the Wisconsin agriculture industry continues to evolve and strive for healthy and happy future generations."

Learn more about the upcoming Alice in Dairyland finals at aliceindairyland.com


A Sweet Celebration
Apr. 02, 2017

Yesterday, I was on quite the sugar high after serving as a guest judge for the Syrup Contest at the Phelps Maple Syrup Festival. In total, there were 38 entries vying for top prize and bragging rights! Entries varied from golden, delicate syrups to very dark, robust syrups.

Now you may be wondering how maple syrup is judged. Well, there are four main categories syrup is evaluated on: color, density, clarity and flavor. The color of the syrup gives a clue as to what flavor the syrup may have. Typically, the lighter the syrup, the more delicate the flavor and the darker the syrup, the stronger the flavor will be.

Density is a big component when evaluating syrup. If the syrup is less than 66 Brix (a measure of sugar content), it’s considered to still be sap and cannot be judged for flavor. If the syrup is over 66.9 Brix, sugar crystals could form – decreasing the value of the product. Additionally, clarity points are given to syrups that are clear and not cloudy.

Finally, the flavor of the syrup is evaluated. This may be the most important aspect of maple syrup judging. I was astounded to discover that each maple syrup in the same category tasted different. Some offered floral aromas, while others contained hints of vanilla and butter. Off-flavors were also present in a few samples and those varied from metallic to sodium to sour sap. The diversity was truly amazing between the various entries.

If you don’t believe me, I encourage you to do a taste test of your own. Purchase a few varieties of Wisconsin maple syrup at your local grocery store or visit a sugar bush in your area. Your purchase will support our Wisconsin farmers, community and economy, and you will have a fun, sugar-filled afternoon.

To learn more about Wisconsin maple syrup visit wismaple.org.


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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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