Sixty-six years ago, did organizers know that fairy tales would be getting renewed attention in the 21st Century? Last year there was Snow White And The Huntsman and then Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters and now Jack The Giant Slayer. None of them however have the hands on experience (pun intended) of “Alice in Dairyland”, who writes a new chapter of dairy memories in Wisconsin every year. It may not start, “once upon or time” but for 25 year old, Kristin Olson, who is the current Alice in Dairyland, carrying out this role is definitely a dream come true.
Seeing the World Through The Milking Glass
Every good dairy tale starts on a farm and Kristin‘s story is no exception. The 2013 Alice recounts some of the benchmarks that prepared her this role. “I grew up in Fond du Lac, WI with my family’s small show herd, Crestbrooke Holsteins and Jerseys, with my parents, Tim and Barb, and brother, Kyle. Throughout my youth, I was very active in the Wisconsin Holstein Association, as well as 4-H and FFA. I pursued a degree in Life Sciences Communications from UW – Madison, where I held numerous leadership roles in the Association of Women in Agriculture, Badger Dairy Club and National Agri-Marketing Association, and several internships, before graduating in 2010. After graduating, I worked at Accelerated Genetics in Baraboo for about three years as the Dairy Advertising Coordinator, before being selected for my current role as the 66th Alice in Dairyland last month. I reside in the Windsor-Deforest area with my husband, Trent, who is still involved with his home farm in Lewiston, MN, and is also employed with ABS Global in Deforest.”
Kristin has always felt a magical connection with agriculture!
We should always remember no matter what role we play in business, life or the dairy industry that we are making lasting impressions on formative young minds. Such was the case for Kristin. “Having first met Alice in Dairyland in 4th grade, Alice has always been a figure I’ve looked up to and respected throughout my life. All of my combined experiences during my youth and college years really developed my passion for communicating agriculture’s story.” With such strong early impressions of Alice and her lifelong ties to agriculture, it isn’t surprising to hear her say, “I am so excited to now be able to share my passion with Wisconsin and hopefully inspire people along the way!”
Waving the Agriculture Wand On Behalf of Wisconsin!
Kristin’s enthusiasm is exactly what the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection looks for in their official agricultural ambassador. Becky Paris, the Alice In Dairyland Program Manager, outlines how the selection of this one year, full-time public relations employee is made. “Each year a diverse group of highly qualified applicants make the position selection a difficult process. The Alice in Dairyland selection puts everyone through a rigorous three day series of interviews including public speaking, writing, TV and radio interviews, tours and an individual interview.” The 66th Alice in Dairyland Finals were held in Calumet County in the Northeast section of Wisconsin. Speaking of the selected candidate, Becky notes “Kristin proved she possessed the ability to positively impact Wisconsin agriculture in the role of Alice in Dairyland.” Kristin deflects the emphasis from herself and onto the host county. “Calumet County’s agriculture is so diverse, which was showcased on the agri-business tours they put on. We enjoyed a wide variety of tours from an innovative dairy farm featuring a rotary parlor, to Honeymoon Acres greenhouse which offers a variety of plants for everyone and sells over 15,000 hanging baskets annually, to the world renowned Sargento cheese. There was so much to see and learn!” A gracious Alice indeed!
Dairyland: “All the better to delight you with!”
With her banner and tiara and her ongoing passion for dairying, Kristin will go far and experience much as Alice in Dairyland. “Throughout my year as Alice, I will travel nearly 40,000 miles, make over 400 appearances and speak with 10,000 students on the importance of Wisconsin’s $59 billion agriculture industry. I’m very much looking forward to traveling throughout the state and meeting people from all backgrounds and walks of life while sharing the message of Wisconsin agriculture!” Becky Paris tells us the ways in which this is a one-of-a-kind program is constantly changing to reflect innovations in Wisconsin’s agriculture industry. “Alice is unique in the versatility of her role: one day her role is relaying the modern picture of agriculture to a growing urban population, the next she is educating students on careers in agriculture, and the next she is reaching out to all consumers through TV interviews discussing one of the many diverse agricultural facets in Wisconsin. Working with our agricultural industry partners, Alice provides a relatable link between producers, processors and consumers.”
Alice’s Ag Adventure is Just Beginning
Alice in Dairyland is contracted public relations position for which Kristin will receive a $40,000 state paid salary. Coinciding with Dairy Month, the fully packed year of activities is off to a good start says Kristin. “Having started on June 3, I’m just beginning to scratch the surface of all of the wonderful opportunities that lie ahead for the year. So far, my greatest experience has been traveling throughout the state and meeting wonderful people while being able to celebrate June Dairy month in America’s Dairyland and share my passion of the dairy industry with others.”
Life Before Alice In Dairyland
No doubt there will be many times during the coming year when Kristin will reflect on the experiences, training and personal support that led her to this exciting opportunity. She gives much of the credit to her parents Tim and Barb Natzke. “At a very young age my parents taught me the importance of hard work, dedication and perseverance. From practicing leading stubborn calves for hours and hours on end as a little girl in order to win that showmanship contest, to preparing for the Alice in Dairyland finals in order to make a dream a reality, they’ve always been there for encouragement and also to push me to my highest potential.”
The Bullvine Bottom Line
Both Kristin and Becky encourage others to seek out this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “Whether you’re considering the job of Alice or not, I advise people to cultivate their passion for all things agriculture and spread its message to those you meet. It is our food, fiber, fuel and for many, a way of making a living.” Kristin agrees with Becky and invites people to follow Alice on her travel blog or on Facebook and Twitter and adds this endorsement. “Consider the role of Alice in Dairyland and then absolutely go for it.”
It is indeed a wonderful dairy world out there. Congratulations to Kristin and warm thanks for inspiring our Bullvine readers to share the Alice in Dairyland message “Agriculture! Happily ever after!”