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MONROE - Abigal Martin of Rock County is the newest Alice in Dairyland.

Outgoing Alice in Dairyland Kaitlyn Riley passed her tiara on to Martin during the Alice in Dairyland Finale last weekend in Monroe, located in the heart of Green County, this year's host county.

"I'm extremely honored to be selected as the 72nd Alice in Dairyland," said Martin, who told the crowd her knees were 'shaking' just moments after Wisconsin Ag Secretary Brad Pfaff announced her name. 

Martin told the Wisconsin State Farmer that she would continued to be excited to share the story of her ag roots with people, whether she was selected or not to serve as the state's ag ambassador.

Martin grew up on her family's 175-cow dairy farm near Milton and says she fell in love with dairy at a young age. She graduated with from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Dairy Science.

On campus, she was involved in the Association of Women in Agriculture, Badger Dairy Club, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and was on the intercollegiate dairy judging team. She has held previous roles in marketing at the Rock County 4-H, East Central/ Select Sires, and the Babcock Hall Dairy Store. Upon graduation in May 2018, she accepted a role with DeLaval Inc. in their North American marketing and communications department.

Being chosen as Alice in Dairyland is an extreme honor,” said Martin. “As Alice, I will demonstrate a strong commitment to learning and sharing about our great state and its robust agriculture industry.”

Saying farwell

Martin, who is currently employed with DeLaval Inc. in the marketing department, will follow in her predecessors' footsteps, criss-crossing the Wisconsin to promote the state's diverse agricultural industry.

"Kaitlyn is very approachable. Wherever she goes people feel they are able to go up to her and ask questions," Martin said. "That's definitely something that I want to channel in this upcoming year is being approachable and having a friendly face so people feel comfortable enough to come up and engage with me."

Riley said saying farewell was the hardest part of her journey as Alice in Dairyland.

"My stories of Alice in Dairyland didn't start a year ago and won't end after tonight," said Riley in her farewell address. "I hope I have served Wisconsin well during this difficult time for the ag community and stayed true to the path of the Alice in Dairylands who walked before me.

"As my time as Alice in Dairyland come to an end, I look forward to stepping into my next adventure with a greater love and appreciation of Wisconsin agriculture," she added.

As part of the tradition of the outgoing title holder, Riley presented the 2019 Friend of Alice Award to her mentor Jill Makovec, a former Alice in Dairyland.

What's ahead

Martin was selected at the culmination of three days of final interview events in Green County. The events included agribusiness tours, speeches, a public question-and-answer session and media interviews.

"They’re not wrong when they say it’s the most intensive job interview process," Martin laughed. "But I really enjoyed getting to know my fellow candidates and getting to know Green County Planning Committee and learning about the diversity of agriculture in the county and touring the agribusinesses."

Joining Martin among the five top candidates were: Sarah Achenbach, Eastman; Cassandra Krull, Lake Mills; Mariah Martin, Brooklyn; and Tess Zettle, Juda. 

Martin will start working as Alice on June 3 and will travel upwards of 30,000 miles speaking at events and giving media interviews. She’ll also work with the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin to educate children across the state about dairy and agricultural products.

A number of other Wisconsin organizations contribute to making Alice in Dairyland visible and recognizable to the public. For example, Martin will wear a custom mink garment to promote Wisconsin’s fur industry, and she’ll drive an E-85 flex-fuel Ford Explorer to promote the state’s ethanol industry. While working, Martin will wear a 14-carat gold and platinum brooch or tiara, both of which feature amethysts and citrines, gems indigenous to Wisconsin.

Prior to the close of the ceremony, Pfaff announced the names of the counties that will host the Alice in Dairyland finals for the next three years. Walworth County will host the finals in 2020, followed by Dunn County in 2021 and Dane County in 2022.

To schedule the 72nd Alice in Dairyland for an event or classroom visit, contact Program Manager Ti Gauger at 608-224-5115 or Ti.Gauger@wisconsin.gov. Follow Alice online at facebook.com/DATCPAliceInDairyland or twitter.com/Alice_Dairyland.

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2019 Alice in Dairyland candidates make their debut in Green County. Colleen Kottke, Wisconsin State Farmer

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