Six finalists have been named in the search for Wisconsin’s 61st Alice in Dairyland position.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced the names of the women, one of whom will be selected as Alice in Dairyland during a series of public events highlighting agriculture in Sheboygan County, May 14-16.
“For more than six decades the Alice in Dairyland program has helped highlight this vital sector of Wisconsin’s economy,” says Rod Nilsestuen, Secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. "Agriculture is our heritage. It is our future as well. We look forward to selecting the next remarkable spokesperson for Wisconsin agriculture."
The 2008 Alice in Dairyland Finalists are:
* Kim Houser, Prairie du Sac, is an instructor and FFA advisor at Wisconsin Heights High School with a lifelong passion for agriculture that began by spending time on her grandparents’ cattle and grain operation and continued when she enrolled in agricultural education and joined her school’s FFA. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a bachelor of science degree in agricultural education. Ms. Houser also works part-time at Wollersheim Winery as a tour guide, increasing the public’s awareness of wine’s production process from ground to glass.
*Ashley Huibregtse, Plymouth, will graduate from the UW–Madison in May 2008 with degrees in elementary education and communications. Huibregtse has worked as an event coordinator for First Lady Doyle; organized the annual Governor’s Egg Hunt and served as a Cowstodian with the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board Cow Parade. She has gained leadership abilities on campus through the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club. Huibregtse was named the 2005 Sheboygan County Fairest of the Fair; Wisconsin’s Fairest of the Fairs First Runner-Up and UW Homecoming Court Representative. In addition to school and work, Huibregtse continues to be active on her family’s dairy farm.
*Cheryl O’Brien, Eastman, O’Brien will graduate in May from UW – Milwaukee with a degree in broadcast journalism. She grew up on her family’s small dairy farm and participated in the Holstein Association, 4-H and the Wisconsin Moo Booth/House of Moo at the Wisconsin State Fair. Ms. O’Brien works part-time at WISN-TV in the newsroom and is past president of the UW-Milwaukee Broadcast Club. She enjoys sharing the tale of Wisconsin agriculture and its role in our lives.
*Myriah Osley, Melrose, will graduate in May from UW- LaCrosse with a degree in business management. She grew up on her family’s livestock farm; exhibited dairy cattle at the local fair; and participated in dairy judging. She worked for the Federation Cooperative and Farmers’ Cooperative. She is involved with her local church and volunteers in many projects including the Salvation Army, D.A.R.E program, and local Dairy Breakfast.
*Tracy Phillippi, Wautoma, is a 2007 graduate from the UW–Eau Claire, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications, with an emphasis in public relations and a minor in political science. Phillippi grew up on her family’s 600-acre vegetable farm, Shiprock Farms, located in Wautoma. Working in the onion, mint and potato fields sparked her interest in exploring Wisconsin’s diverse agriculture industry. During her undergraduate study, she interned with Wisconsin Public Radio and also with Mary Murphy Public Relations Associates in Dublin, Ireland. In addition, she launched a public awareness campaign on purchasing locally produced products and has presented her findings at the Accessing Local Market Workshop and the 2008 Midwest Value Added Conference/Local Food Summit. She is currently working with the Northwest Wisconsin Regional Foods Network to replicate her public awareness campaign with Rice Lake students and other regional campuses.
*Jordan Pieczynski, East Troy, was raised on a seven acre hobby farm and recalls having had everything from a wild turkey to a Canadian goose as a pet. Pieczynski attended UW–Platteville, where she graduated with a degree in agriculture business with an emphasis in communications and marketing. During college she was involved with numerous agriculture public relations activities and served the School of Agriculture as an Agricultural Ambassador. Additionally, she worked on the UW-Platteville Farm as an intern and then the farm tour guide coordinator. Since graduating she has worked as an account executive for Prairie Radio Communications, and most recently is working as the marketing coordinator at a co-op in Burlington.
The public is invited to attend the Impromptu Question and Answer Session on Thursday, May 15 and the Alice in Dairyland Finale on Friday evening, May 16. There will be a banquet dinner at the Blue Harbor Resort and Conference Center Friday evening at 5:30, followed by the Finale program at the Weill Center starting at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets for the Alice in Dairyland Finale Program are available by visiting www.aliceindairyland.com.
Alice in Dairyland is a full time public relations professional employed by the DATCP Division of Agricultural Development for a one-year term. Each year, Alice travels more than 40,000 miles throughout the state and nation, promoting Wisconsin products to audiences of all ages and types. She educates the media, youth and civic groups about the many facets of the state's agricultural industry.