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70th Alice in Dairyland candidates
THE NEXT ALICE: Candidates for the 70th Alice in Dairyland are (from left) Kelly Wilfert, Abrielle Backhaus, Jenna Crayton, 69th Alice in Dairyland Ann O'Leary, Kaitlyn Riley, Alexis Dunnum and Crystal Siemers-Peterman.

Next 'Alice' to be selected May 13 at Lambeau Field

Six candidates will compete for the honor of being the 70th Alice in Dairyland.

Six candidates will compete for the title of the 70th Alice in Dairyland. Following an extensive interview process, the next Alice will be selected at the conclusion of the Alice in Dairyland Finals Program, May 11-13, in Brown County.

“The Alice in Dairyland program has a strong history of promoting Wisconsin’s diverse agriculture industry, which now has a more than $88 billion impact on Wisconsin’s economy,” says Ann O’Leary, the 69th Alice in Dairyland. “One of these finalists will carry on the tradition of traveling the state to teach audiences of urban and rural backgrounds about the importance of Wisconsin agriculture."

The six candidates will participate in a rigorous interview process that will allow them to showcase communications and public relations skills required to be the next Alice in Dairyland.

The candidates are:

Abrielle Backhaus, Kewaskum, was raised on Kettle Aire Acres dairy farm with her parents and two brothers. Washington County 4-H and FFA offered her many opportunities for learning communications skills and traveling. She took on many leadership roles within both organizations. In 2016, with a journalism degree from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, a background in the ag industry and a strong passion to share industry knowledge through publication, Backhaus joined the Agri-View newspaper staff as an assistant editor. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, baking, crafting and spending time with family.

Jenna Crayton, Oak Creek, grew up on the last family-owned and -operated dairy farm in Milwaukee County. Along with dairy cattle, her family owns a flock of commercial-type show lambs. She was heavily involved in the Racine County 4-H program, where she served as a junior member, 4-H ambassador and sheep leader for the Tucker 4-H Club. She also served as the 2013 Racine County Fairest of the Fair, and 2010 Racine County Farm Bureau Ambassador. Crayton’s passion for agriculture led her to attend UW-Stevens Point, where in May 2015 she obtained a bachelor of arts in communication with a double emphasis in interpersonal organizations and public relations, while minoring in business administration. Currently, she is continuing her education at Texas Tech University, where she is an agricultural communications master’s student and a Texas Tech University student-housing graduate assistant for Residence Education and Academic Programs. In her spare time, she enjoys being the vice president of the Texas Tech University Agricultural Education and Communications Graduate Organization, crafting, and spending time with family.

Alexis Dunnum, Westby, was raised on her family’s fourth-generation organic beef and crops farm in Wisconsin’s Driftless Region. Growing up, she was an active member of the Nerison 4-H Club and the Westby FFA.  Dunnum showed beef steers, swine and poultry each year at her county fair and served as the 2014 Vernon County Fairest of the Fair. She is currently a senior at UW-Madison, double-majoring in life science communications and Scandinavian studies; she also will receive a certificate in environmental studies. In the spring of 2016, Dunnum studied at the University of Southeast Norway and traveled the country independently to interview farmers about sustainable agriculture. Upon her return to the U.S., Dunnum continues to spend her time as a member of Collegiate FFA, the Association of Women in Agriculture and a trumpet player in the UW Marching Band.

Crystal Siemers-Peterman, Cleveland, found her passion for Wisconsin’s diverse agricultural industry on her family’s registered Holstein dairy farm. She was actively involved in the Manitowoc County Junior Holstein Association, Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association and Manitowoc County 4-H. Through these organizations, she represented Wisconsin at national competitions in both dairy quiz bowl and dairy judging. Siemers-Peterman will graduate in May from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a major in agricultural and food business management and a minor in marketing. Previously, she interned at Sassy Cow Creamery, FLM+ Advertising Agency and Land O’Lakes Inc. On campus she is involved in the National Agri-Marketing Association, National Grocers Association and Gopher Dairy Club.

Kaitlyn Riley, Gays Mills, is a multimedia journalist with WQOW News 18 in Eau Claire. She returns home to her family’s dairy farm on weekends, where her parents milk 70 registered Jerseys. After graduating with honors from UW-Madison in 2014 with a degree in strategic communications and broadcast journalism, Riley served as the 48th Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs. Her passion for the fair industry and agritourism came from years of showing cattle at local, state and national levels. During her collegiate career, she was involved in the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club. Riley continues to promote agriculture and youth involvement as an active member of the Crawford County Dairy Promotion Committee and the Northern Wisconsin State Fair Fairest of the Fair Committee.

Kelly Wilfert, Two Rivers, grew up on a 700-acre farm producing fresh-market fruit and vegetables, cash grain, and processing carrots. She was heavily involved with her family’s farm, as well as active in both 4-H and FFA. She will complete her bachelor’s degree in life sciences communication and agricultural economics from UW-Madison in May. During her college experience, Wilfert served as a Wisconsin FFA state officer, worked as the American Farm Bureau’s public policy intern and finished in the top four for the American Farm Bureau’s Collegiate Discussion Meet. She also volunteers for the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center’s Exhibit Development Committee.

About Alice
Alice in Dairyland is a one-year, full-time public relations position with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The official start date for the 70th Alice is June 5.

In this position, Alice in Dairyland travels throughout the state teaching rural and urban audiences of all ages about Wisconsin’s extensive ag industry. Alice cultivates relationships with television, radio and print media outlets; writes and delivers speeches; and uses social media to tell the stories of Wisconsin agriculture. Additional duties include developing and executing marketing plans, delivering classroom presentations, and networking with industry professionals.

Each year, a different Wisconsin county hosts the Alice in Dairyland interview activities, with Brown County serving as the host county this year. The 70th Alice in Dairyland will be selected at the conclusion of the three-day finals program, May 11-13.

The public is welcome to attend three public events during the finals:

• Candidate Discussion Panel Dinner, May 12, Green Bay Botanical Garden, Green Bay; 5 p.m. social hour, 6 p.m. meal and Observe Discussion ($15)

• 70th Alice Finale Banquet and Selection of the 70th Alice in Dairyland, May 13, Lambeau Field, Green Bay; 5 p.m. social hour, 6:30 p.m. dinner, 7:30 p.m. finale program and dessert social including live music at 9 p.m. ($30)

• 70th Alice Finale Program only, May 13, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, 7:30 p.m. ($15)

For all event information and ticket sales, visit aliceindairyland.com.

Source: Wisconsin DATCP

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