70th Alice in Dairyland journey "ride of a lifetime" for Siemers-Peterman
It is difficult to believe that my year as Wisconsin’s 70th Alice in Dairyland is already coming to an end as it feels as though it was just yesterday that I was standing on stage at Lambeau Field, heart beating out of my chest, listening for my name to be announced.
After being announced as “Alice” I remember making a promise to God that I would pour my enthusiasm, excitement and outgoing personality into every moment and interaction as Wisconsin’s agriculture ambassador.
Since that night, I have been on the ride of a lifetime. For the past year I have traveled thousands of miles across this state while promoting our Wisconsin farmers, agriculturists, and agribusinesses. But no matter where I traveled to across the state – laughter and smiles followed me every place I went.
And while I laughed a lot, I had the unique opportunity and privilege to learn and grow from the best in the business. People who invited me to their farms and fields, bogs and barns, hearts and homes.
During these last couple weeks as “Alice,” many people ask me what my favorite part of my job was. My answer is always the same: meeting incredible people who love Wisconsin agriculture just as much as I do!
Four T Acres – Burlington
I met Jean and Richard Gruenert at the 2017 Farm Technology Days in Kewaunee County when I entered the beef tent. After sharing a couple laughs and pictures on social media, we quickly became friends. A couple months later I had the chance to visit their farm in Burlington to hang out with their herd of Scottish Highland cattle. I’ll always remember standing in the middle of the pasture brushing their long shaggy coats on that picturesque day in December.
Stockwell’s Sugar Bush – Ellsworth
A day before the Wisconsin State Fair, I was scurrying around the fairground preparing for the many days ahead. Lyle and Shirley Stockwell and I met in the Ag Products Pavilion building. After joking back and forth, I snapped a couple of photos for social media. During those next 11 days, if I wasn’t hanging out in the “House of Moo,” I was eating maple cotton candy in the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers booth. I can’t wait till the next time I visit Ellsworth, otherwise known as the “Cheese Curd Capital,” to stop in to visit the Stockwell family.
A&M Dittrich Mink – Medford
This year, A&M Dittrich Mink Farm graciously donated pelts for my beautiful mink coat that I wore throughout the cold winter months. For more than fifty years, mink breeders across Wisconsin have continued the tradition of donating pelts for a garment that is presented to each Alice. While touring their farm, Jorn Mogensen mentioned that he had a “turkey problem.” After a couple conversations, I found myself back in Medford this spring in my camouflage. While my hunt might have been unsuccessful, I know that this friendship has many future hunts in the future.
WI Spudmobile WVPGA – Jim Zdroik
With Adams County hosting the 71st Alice in Dairyland Finals, I was able to attend many unique events that highlighted the county’s diverse agriculture industry. During the Corn ‘N Tater Festival I met Jim Zdroik with the Wisconsin Spudmobile. After running into each other a couple more times, Jim invited me to ride shotgun in the “Spudmobile” to Lambeau Field for a Packer game. Grilling Wisconsin potatoes with Mad Dog and Merrill and the Wisconsin Vegetable and Potato Growers Association will always be a highlight.
These stories are just a small sample of some of the incredible people I met along the way. Instead of handshakes at the end of a conversation or tour, many times I would leave with hugs. After this year, I am walking away with many new friendships that I know will last a lifetime.
Each day brought a new adventure or experience, but I could not have done this journey alone. Thank you to the wonderful sponsors of the Alice in Dairyland Program. With the help of the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, I was able to share the story of Wisconsin’s $43.4 billion dairy industry in many fun and unique ways.
Driving “Maizey” from the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board was always a great icebreaker to chat about E-85 and Wisconsin’s corn industry. Between the beautiful mink coat donated by the Kettle Moraine Mink Breeders Association and A&M Dittrich Mink Farm, to the iconic tiara and brooch from the Midwest Jewelers Association, an agricultural talking point was always on hand. Thanks to their generosity, this unique position is able to continue to reach more people while adding significant recognition.
Thank you to my colleagues at the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection for sharing your knowledge and offering advice. For the last year you’ve dealt with my messy desk, my unique sense of humor, and a lot of personality. Our state is lucky to have you serving them and I’m lucky to have you as mentors.
To my friends and family, thank you for being there every step of the way. Your snapchats, texts, and phone calls have kept me entertained and in the loop. Dad, thank you for tagging along on several of my industry tours and always being willing to help me document my travels. From taking me turkey hunting to helping me with random errands, you’re not only the best purse holder but also one of my best friends. Mom, thank you for being my personal shopper and biggest cheerleader. I admire your strong personality, honesty, and constructive criticism. Thank you for helping instill my love of agriculture and inspiring me to pursue my dreams.
I have never felt more fulfilled, inspired, and honored to be a part of Wisconsin agriculture than I do today. This past year I have experienced vulnerability, strengthened relationships with those around me, and have grown in my faith. I am humbled and honored that I have fulfilled my promise to God and America’s Dairyland.
As Wisconsin’s 70th Alice in Dairyland and as a sixth generation farm-kid, my adventure in Wisconsin agriculture has been incredible, unbelievable, and has forever impacted my life. To the Wisconsin agricultural community, thank you for this adventure of a lifetime.
Crystal Siemers-Peterman will turn over the reins to her successor during the Alice in Dairyland finale beginning at 7:30 p.m. May 19, in the Fine Arts Center at Adams, WI.