Ann O’Leary, a native of Evansville, was selected as Wisconsin’s 69th Alice in Dairyland on May 7 at Watertown High School.
The Rock County native will work as a communications professional for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Her job for the next year will be to educate the public about the importance of agriculture in Wisconsin.
Dream come true
O'Leary, 23, was one of six finalists vying to be the 2016 Alice in Dairyland. Moments after being selected, she said being named Alice was "a dream come true. I have wanted to do this for a long time. I can't wait to meet everyone in Wisconsin agriculture and share their stories."
She grew up showing Jerseys and Holsteins at county, district and state shows. She was very active in 4-H and the Rock County Junior Holstein Association. She participated in dairy judging and served as the 2009 Rock County 4-H Fair Queen.
The daughter of Craig and Linda O'Leary of Evansville, she double majored in biology and neuroscience at Carthage College in Kenosha and graduated with All-College Honors in May 2014. O'Leary currently works at Epic as a corporate recruiter, volunteers with the Rock County 4-H Program and serves on the Carthage College Alumni Council. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, water skiing and spending time with her family.
“As Alice in Dairyland, I want to share the story of Wisconsin’s $88.3 billion agricultural industry with both producers and consumers,” O’Leary said. “My goal is to educate them on the diversity of Wisconsin’s agricultural industry and encourage people of all backgrounds to become advocates of Wisconsin agricultural products.”
O’Leary was selected at the culmination of three days of final interview events in Dodge County. The events included tours of area agribusinesses, speeches, a public question-and-answer session and media interviews.
The other finalists were Jenna Braun of Mayville, Victoria Horstman of Sparta, Kristin Klossner of New Glarus, Emily Selner of Denmark, and Joanna Wavrunek of Denmark.
O’Leary will start working as Alice on June 1. She succeeds the 68th Alice in Dairyland Teyanna Loether of Sauk City.
As Alice, O’Leary will be paid a salary of $40,000 and she will travel about 40,000 miles speaking at events and giving media interviews. She will present lessons in more than 100 fourth grade classrooms in partnership with the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
A number of other Wisconsin organizations contribute to make Alice in Dairyland visible and recognizable to the public. O’Leary will wear a custom mink garment to promote Wisconsin’s fur industry and she’ll drive an E-85 flex-fuel Chevrolet Tahoe to promote the state’s ethanol industry. While working, O’Leary will wear a 14-carat gold and platinum tiara or brooch, both of which feature amethysts and citrines, gems indigenous to Wisconsin. The gems are provided by the Midwest Jewelers Association.
Wisconsin Agriculture Secretary Ben Brancel announced near the end of the Alice Finale that Brown County will host the 70th Alice in Dairyland Awards on May 13 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.