Riley ends her amazing journey as Alice in Dairyland

Kaitlyn Riley
the people standing behind Wisconsin’s food, fuel and fiber production inspired Kaitlyn Riley to apply for the position of Alice in Dairyland. Her run as the state's 71st ag ambassador will end next week.

In a matter of days, I will make my third appearance on stage for the Alice in Dairyland Finals. Previous years were filled with nerves and excitement as a Top Candidate. This year, those feelings are replaced with an appreciation for my adventure in agriculture.

It was the people standing behind Wisconsin’s food, fuel and fiber production who inspired me to apply for the position of Alice in Dairyland. I sought the chance to walk a year in Alice’s shoes so I could learn from the many faces of agriculture. Because of this journey, I will go forth as a stronger communicator, sharing the story of farms that come in all types, sizes and production methods and bring success to our signature industry.

My admiration for farmers started with my parents. They taught me the importance of working hard, protecting the land, caring for our beloved Jersey cows, and developing sustainable practices. I am proud to have been raised on one of the 96 percent of Wisconsin dairy farms that are family-owned. In my miles traveled, the pink rubber boots kept in the back of Maizey were a constant reminder of my starting point.

The path of Alice has greatly changed since the program’s foundation in 1948, but the destination has always remained true to showcasing the heritage and tradition of Wisconsin agriculture. The strength of our $88.3 billion agriculture industry comes from the persistence of our farmers and processors who work tirelessly to provide a safe, wholesome and secure food supply for families.

It has been an honor to continue the traditions of Alice in Dairyland while making new memories. The chance to fly across the state with Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch for Wisconsin Cheese Day; educate urban and rural audiences at the Wisconsin State Fair; make a commercial with Donald Driver at Warrens Cranberry Festival; cut the first Christmas tree of the season; and learn how to make maple syrup from FFA students are just some of the many moments that left lasting footprints on my trail walked as Alice. 

Thank you to the many agricultural commodity groups who guided me with their knowledge and experience. The support I received from Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin was invaluable. With insight from their staff, the Alice educational program was recreated to have unlimited reach across the state. I virtually stepped into each classroom to explore our innovative $43.4 billion dairy community and how food moves from the farm gate to family plates.

Because of the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board, my travels were fueled by E-85 and our state’s corn industry. I will miss the many honks and waves I received driving on Wisconsin’s highways and byways. Most importantly, I will cherish the opportunities to impact others with simple conversations at the pump.

Nothing could warm my heart this past winter like the beautiful mink garment donated by the Kettle Moraine Mink Breeders Association. Zimbal Mink exceeded all expectations by surprising me with one of the most unique coats the Alice in Dairyland program has seen. The coat was admired by strangers wherever I went, and I was delighted for the chance to educate them about genuine, Wisconsin mink.

Our state’s beauty, heritage and history can also be seen in the reflection of iconic Alice in Dairyland tiara and brooch from the Midwest Jewelers Association. For nearly 35 years, amethysts and citrines have helped give recognition to several agricultural sectors. It was my privilege to continue that tradition.

Thank you to my colleagues and friends at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. From the moment I walked through those doors as the ‘New Alice,’ you’ve stood by my side offering advice and expertise. Your dedication to serving our state’s farmers and processors is exceptional.

There are still memories to be made after walking off stage from the 72nd Alice in Dairyland Finals in Green County on May 11. My final footsteps will lead me back to my family’s farm for a closing appearance as Alice at the Crawford County Dairy Breakfast on June 1.

As my journey comes to an end, I look forward to stepping into my next great adventure with greater love and appreciation of Wisconsin agriculture. Thank you for walking with me as your 71st Alice in Dairyland.