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Four candidates named as 66th Alice Finalists

March 28, 2013 | 0 comments

CHILTON

The four finalists hoping to be chosen as Wisconsin’s 66th Alice in Dairyland six weeks from now have several commonalities.

All grew up on farms in the southern one-third of the state, all have a history of being involved in numerous agriculture-related activities, all want to continue on that path for another year as the state’s agricultural ambassador, and all are first-time candidates for the position.

Calumet County, which is organizing the finals program for the 66th Alice on May 8-10, hosted the candidates at a press conference on March 22.

They were selected during February by representatives of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection on the basis of their qualifications, applications, and an interview.

Rochelle Ripp, the 65th Alice in Dairyland, attended the event here and introduced the four finalists.

She noted that some of the qualifications of the candidates are a good knowledge of or direct experience with agriculture, a background of three years in communications, marketing, or public relations, and the ability to speak at a variety of events and to handle media interviews.

In brief preliminary remarks to the finalists and press conference attendees, Ripp said "I’ve been having a blast" since starting her tenure in June 2012.

During her year, she expects to complete about 400 appearances, travel about 40,000 miles, and visit about 100 schools to speak to 4th graders and some middle and high school classes. "I’ve traveled to places I didn’t know existed," Ripp observed.

Finalist Beth Babcock of Wisconsin Dells is a December 2012 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with certification to teach agriculture and technology education.

She has been a substitute teacher in kindergarten through high school during the past three months and will be a long-term substitute agriculture at DeForest High School during the fourth semester of this school year.

While growing up on her family’s beef farm in Adams County, Babcock was a 4-H member, the county’s Fairest of the Fair in 2010, and a member of the Wisconsin Dells FFA. In the summer of 2012, she was an intern for the Sauk County 4-H program.

At Platteville, Babcock was a member of the collegiate FFA chapter, the Agri-Ambassadors, and Sigma Alpha. She held numerous leadership positions at the university’s residence halls and student taught at Mauston High School.

Marie Mahaney, now living in downtown Milwaukee as she pursues a masters degree in public health at Concordia University, also has plans to attend the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

She is a 2012 honors graduate of UW-Platteville with degrees in animal science and nutrition.

Mahaney grew up on her family’s beef and sheep farm near Brodhead.

She was the reporter for the Wisconsin State FFA officer team in 2007, a national FFA officer candidate, a Miss Wisconsin first runner-up, and attended the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Institute course.

From her recent urban living experiences, Mahaney has noticed why the educational role played by Alice in Dairyland is necessary. "This is an opportunity like no other," she indicates.

Fond du Lac area dairy farm (Crestbrooke Holsteins and Jerseys) native Kristin (Natzke) Olson views a potential position as Alice in Dairyland as a full circle opportunity to give back to agriculture. Now living at Windsor, she is working as the dairy advertising coordinator at Accelerated Genetics.

A life sciences communications degree holder from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010, Olson was a member and officer of the Association of Women in Agriculture, the Badger Dairy Club, and the National Agri-Marketing Association while a student there.

Olson was Fond du Lac County’s Fairest of the Fair in 2007 and held internships at the House of Moo at the Wisconsin State Fair, with Accelerated Genetics, and with the dairy science department at UW-Madison.

Tammy Wiedenbeck of Lancaster works for the Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association and is a graphic designer for The Midwest Herdsman, a magazine published every two months to serve the beef, swine, and sheep industries. She mentions photography as a special hobby.

Wiedenbeck grew up on her family’s beef, hog, and cash crop farm in Grant County, where she was a member of the local 4-H club and the Lancaster FFA. She is a board member of the county’s Cattlemen’s Association and a lifetime member of the FFA Alumni.

With a major in animal science and minor in communications, Wiedenbeck is a high honors graduate of UW-Platteville in 2012. While there, she was a member of the Pioneer Dairy Club and Block and Bridle Club, played intramural sports, and earned membership in several honors societies.

While on their first visit to Calumet County as finalists, one of the stops for the Alice candidates was at Vanderloop Equipment in Dundas in the northern part of the county. Representatives of the family-owned company introduced the finalists to the latest in farm equipment and allowed them to take the steering wheel of some of the tractors.

The four finalists are scheduled to return to Calumet County on Wednesday-Friday, May 8-10,

The May Finale includes a series of visits to agri-businesses in the county, a question and answer session on May 9 at a place yet to be determined, a late afternoon finale banquet on May 10 at Cobblestone Creek in Brillion, and the selection finale at the Endries Performing Arts Center in Brillion High School later that evening.

The public is invited to attend the question and answer session, the banquet (tickets are $20), and the selection finale, for which Green Bay area farm news broadcaster Mike Austin will be the emcee.

To buy tickets for the banquet or to download a printable form for a mail-in reservation, check the www.aliceindairyland.com website.

Another event that will be open to the public during the finals week will be a tour of Holsum Elm Dairy (rural Hilbert) at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 8, followed by a presentation at the same site on anaerobic digesters by DVO of Chilton, which installs those digesters throughout the country.

The public will also be welcome for a tour of the Honeymoon Acres Greenhouse at New Holstein at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 9.

To host the finals, Calumet County has obtained financial support from more than 100 sponsors. These include four in the diamond circle (minimum of $5,000), five in the gold circle ($2,000), 16 in the silver circle ($1,000), 38 in the bronze circle ($500), and 42 as Friends of Alice (up to $499).

The sponsors include businesses in the county and beyond, organizations, individuals, and foundations, and the county government. Their names and their circle of sponsorship are posted on the www.aliceindairyland.com website.

Co-chairs of the host committee are Jennifer (Hasler) Meyer, who was the state’s 51st Alice in Dairyland, and Connie Ott, the mother of Courtney (Ott) Booth, who was the 50th Alice in Dairyland.

This is the first time Calumet County, which for several decades touted itself as "The Milk Vein of the World," is hosting the event.

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