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Katie Wirkus Selected as 64th Alice in Dairyland
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 05/16/2011

An Athens native has been crowned as Wisconsin's 64th Alice in Dairyland. Katie Wirkus was selected for the honor Saturday night in Wautoma during a finale program hosted by Waushara County.

Wirkus is a data analyst at Security Health Plan of Wisconsin, located in Marshfield. Raised on her family's dairy and swine farm in Marathon County, Katie is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with degrees in agricultural education and mathematics. She was selected as the 2008 Wisconsin Jersey Queen and served as the Wisconsin Valley Fairest of the Fair in 2009. Wirkus was involved in the Agricultural Education Society and Alpha Tau Alpha while in college. She volunteers as a 4-H swine leader and as the Educational Chairperson of the Marathon County Market Animal Show and Sale Committee.

"It is such an honor to have been chosen as this year's Alice," Wirkus said after being crowned. "I look forward to educating consumers about where their food comes from and challenging them to spend their dollars locally, as it supports our local economies and communities."

Other finalists in the running during the competition were Holly Melander, Merrill; Melissa Ploeckelman, Stetsonville; Amy Roden, West Bend; and Sarah Sacker, Monroe. Green Bay Farm Broadcaster Mike Austin served as master of ceremonies.

Meanwhile, Out-Going Alice Christine Lindner said serving as the state's official agricultural ambassador during the past year has been a life-long dream come true.

"From the moment I first met Alice as a fourth grader when she visited our classroom, I dreamed of serving as Alice when I got older," Lindner noted. "Seventeen years later, it was an honor to become a part of the program's legacy. In no other job could one gain as much knowledge and appreciation of agriculture."

She also announced that she was able to visit over 100 schools, deliverd over 485 speeches, appeared on more than 300 television and radio broadcasts, and was featured on nearly 430 website articles. And before giving up her title, Lindner presented the '2011 Friend of Alice Award' to Amy Pflugshaupt of WSAW-TV in Wausau. After a well deserved vacation, Christine will return to her previous job at Animart, where she will head the company's marketing department.

Also in the crowd on Saturday were some former Alices, including Angela (Corbin) Tuthill (1993-94), Jolynne (Nagel) Schroepher (1995-96), Jennifer (Hasler) Meyer (1998-99), Sheri (Holt) Hicken (2001-02), Natalie (Parmentier) Killion (2003-04), Jill Makovec (2007-08), and Ashley Huibregtse (2008-09).

Katie officially begins her duties as Alice in June. Until then, Christine will continue to make appearances at various events as her successor goes through a brief training process.

Waushara County is known for being a popular recreation destination in Wisconsin, but is also rich in agricultural diversity. The area is one of the world's leading producers of Christmas trees. Dairy, beef, poultry, fish, carrots, sweet corn, snap beans, cranberries and potatoes are also major commodities grown in the county.

Next year, the Alice finals will be held in the Platteville area in Grant County.

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