It is hard to believe it has already been over six months since I started my term as the 73rd Alice in Dairyland. This year has been unexpectedly challenging with many events cancelled and working virtually from home. It has also been adventurous in ways I could never have expected with bringing a virtual audience into my home, sharing my favorite recipes, and learning so much from farmers across the state of Wisconsin. Having six months under my belt, I wanted to reflect on some of the things I have experienced while promoting Wisconsin’s $104.8 billion agriculture industry.
After the 73rd Alice in Dairyland finals took place virtually in June, I was eager to begin my role as Alice in July. My year started off differently than many other Alice’s before me, not only was it the middle of a pandemic, but my term began in July instead of June. This change allowed me to develop my skills before travelling and shifted my year to end with the busiest promotion Alice in Dairyland has, June Dairy Month.
I started touring various agribusinesses across Wisconsin including an ethanol production facility, a lavender farm, dairy farms, goat farms, a cranberry bog, a farm-to-table restaurant, and more. With many of the large events Alice would normally attend being cancelled (WI State Fair, World Dairy Expo, etc.), I am so thankful that I was still able to explore diverse farms and learn from the farmers who care for much of Wisconsin’s land, animals, and resources.
From the beginning, I knew that I wanted to connect with Wisconsin consumers through social media. We reimagined our social media outreach by creating cooking videos, hosting virtual events, and conducting media interviews all from home. So far, I have hosted two virtual events, the Apple Crunch to highlight locally produced food, and the First Christmas Tree cutting to kick off the Christmas tree season. I have also greatly enjoyed featuring various Wisconsin products while sharing some of my favorite recipes through my ‘Wisconsin Homestyle Kitchen’ cooking videos on social media.
Sharing Wisconsin’s diverse agricultural products and programs with consumers on social media and through television and radio interviews has been a highlight of my year. My promotions so far have included a wide variety of activities like going ‘live’ from the Wisconsin State Fair Park and creating a pork ribs cooking video using Wisconsin pork. I was able to highlight the many uses of Chocolate Milk, the official beverage of Halloween, and showcase many different products in the Something Special from Wisconsin program. I’ve also been working with the Girl Scouts of Wisconsin - Badgerland Council to implement a dairy badge program. I am especially thankful for Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin’s help in creating a video farm tour of my family’s dairy farm to share our pride and promote Wisconsin’s dairy industry.
In response to the challenges presented in 2020 and continuing into 2021 the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has asked me to serve an additional year as Alice in Dairyland. This is a unique opportunity as Alice in Dairyland has always been a one-year term, and I have agreed to serve and additional term during the 74th year of the Alice in Dairyland program. I am looking forward to the upcoming year as we navigate through these unprecedented times, hoping 2021 will allow many of the activities, and events to return that were dearly missed in 2020. From award winning cheeses, to unique commodities like ginseng, mink pelts, dry whey, and cranberries, I am excited to continue promoting Wisconsin’s diverse agricultural products as the 74th Alice in Dairyland.
— Julia Nunes, 73rd Alice in Dairyland