Alice in Dairyland? Don't you mean Alice in Wonderland? No. If you are a Wisconsin, you know that Alice is one of the most recognizable spokespersons of Wisconsin agriculture. Alice in Dairyland is a public relations professional working for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. She travels throughout the state, nation and world to promote Wisconsin products to audiences of all ages, educating the media, youth and civic groups about the many facets of the state's agricultural industry.
Brownfield's Bob Meyer has worked with the Alice program for many years. When Wisconsin selected a new Alice in Dairyland last week, Bob Meyer was there. I asked him to tell us a little bit about his involvement over the years:
I have been involved with the Alice in Dairyland program for a long time. Over the years, I have interviewed “Alice” on numerous occasions. I have been on the preliminary selection panel once and the final selection panel once. I have emceed the finale program twice. Counties bid to host the finals so it moves around the state each year. This year we were in Racine County, next year it will be in Rock County.
In 1993 we decided to do our morning “Daybreak” program live from the Alice in Dairyland finals and feature the then-ten finalists. Starting at 5 a.m., the candidates sat down to the microphone to talk about themselves and why they wanted to be “Alice”. That first broadcast originated from the headquarters hotel on Friday morning of the finals and the judges listened to the live broadcast in their hotel rooms. In 1998, the broadcast was moved to Thursday morning to accommodate an on-the-farm dairy breakfast scheduled for Friday morning. Over the years, the broadcast originated from hotels, radio stations and even the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture one time. Because of some logistics problems in 2006, the interviews were pre-recorded on Wednesday for airing on Thursday morning of the finals. With the end of the “Daybreak” program in June of 2008, this year the interviews were recorded on Wednesday and posted on the Brownfield website.
One of the great aspects of this program is these are people who become heavily involved in agriculture which means in most cases, you will see them often down the road. Just to give you an idea of where some of the former Alices are now: Debbie Crave and her family will host Wisconsin Farm Technology Days this year on their farm. Lisa Behnke runs the media room at World Dairy Expo, Shari Hicken is the P.R. person for Wollersheim Winery, Jill Makovec is an account executive for Learfield we have even sent some to other states in an effort to upgrade the world, Amy Fischer is a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The new Alice in Dairyland is Cheryl O’Brien of Eastman, Wisconsin.