Crystal Siemers-Peterman, who literally JUST graduated last week with a degree in Agricultural and Food Business Marketing last week, was named Wisconsin's 70th Alice in Dairyland.
Wisconsin has a new agricultural ambassador. Following an exhaustive selection process that began in January, Crystal Siemers-Peterman was chosen as the state’s 70th Alice in Dairyland.
Ben Brancel, Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) secretary, made the announcement May 13, in the Lambeau Field Atrium.
“Many months of work and dedication culminate this evening as we announce the selection of the 70th Alice,” said Brancel. “DATCP is proud of the Alice program and is pleased to again have such a highly qualified group of professional candidates.who have worked so hard during this selection process.”
The new Alice in Dairyland grew up on her family’s registered Holstein dairy farm near Cleveland, Wis. She was active in Manitowoc County and Wisconsin Junior Holstein associations. She represented Wisconsin at national dairy judging and dairy quiz bowl competitions.
“I look forward to traveling throughout this great state of Wisconsin promoting our $88.3 billion diversified agriculture industry,” said Siemers-Peterman after receiving congratulations from her predecessor, Ann O’Leary.
“I’m a firm believer that consumers are smart, but looking for reassurance in making the right food purchases for their families,” she continued. “And as the 70th Alice in Dairyland, I will provide Wisconsin, national and global residents the confidence to buy Wisconsin products, and share the message that makes Wisconsin agriculture so incredibly great.”
Attending the State Fair as a youth, and seeing Alice in Dairyland in action first piqued her interest in the position. When the announcement seeking applicants for the 70th Alice was made in January, she decided to apply.
“I knew that I wanted to make a difference, and I felt ready to take on this role of supporting and promoting Wisconsin agriculture,” said Siemers-Peterman.
Later this month, she will graduate from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a major in agricultural and food business management and a minor in marketing. Previously, she interned with Sassy Cow Creamery, FLM+ Advertising Agency and Land O’Lakes Inc.
A three-member selection panel comprising Sandy Chalmers, DATCP Assistant Deputy Secretary; Vicki Janisch, Producer Communications and Programs specialist at Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board; and Corey Geiger, managing editor, Hoard's Dairyman, chose Seimers-Peterman, from six finalists based on individual interviews, writing samples, radio and TV interviews, public speaking and professionalism.
Siemers-Peterman also offered words of encouragement to the other five Alice finalists: Abrielle Backhaus, Kewaskum; Jenna Crayton, Oak Creek; Alexis Dunnum, Westby; Kaitlyn Riley, Gays Mills; and Kelly Wilfert, Two Rivers.
“I have had the pleasure making friends with these five exceptional young women,” said she said. “Your passion for Wisconsin agriculture will take you far in your future endeavors, and I wish you nothing but the best.”
In her presentation featuring a Wisconsin agricultural product during the finale program, Siemers-Peterman focused on the state’s position as the nation’s top cranberry producer. She noted that Wisconsin cranberries have long been a part of Thanksgiving dinners and continue to be a holiday staple.
“Our great state of Wisconsin produces 57 percent of the nation’s crop,” she affirmed, noting that cranberries are produced by 250 farmers on 21,000 acres across 20 Wisconsin counties.
“Many cranberry farms are operated by fifth and sixth generations of the same family, who have a long-term commitment to the land, their local communities and Wisconsin, providing a $23 billion annual impact to our state’s economy,” she added.
She also noted that Wisconsin is the leading exporter in both prepared and preserved cranberries, which are available around the world including China, India and Mexico.
“Cranberries are packed with vitamins and are low in calories,” said Siemers-Peterman. “I’m glad that Wisconsin cranberries aren’t just for Thanksgiving, and can be enjoyed all year long.”
Duties as Alice
Siemers-Peterman will officially begin her duties as a communication professional with DATCP on June 5, helping to educate people throughout the state, and beyond, about the importance of agriculture in Wisconsin.
“I feel the past couple of months (since the announcement of the finalists) have really helped me to prepare for the position, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next year brings,” she said. “I expect to have many great conversations as I share the story of Wisconsin agriculture with people of all ages.”
During her 12 months as Alice in Dairyland, Siemers-Peterman will travel approximately 40,000 miles speaking at numerous events and giving media interviews. In partnership with the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, she will also help students in more than 100 classrooms learn about Wisconsin agriculture.
Between now and June 5, Siemers-Peterman also will learn more about Wisconsin’s diverse and extensive agriculture from the DATCP staff and through meetings with various producer groups.
“I’ll be reaching out to knowledgeable people from across the state who can help me deliver positive messages about our state’s agriculture, so that I can get off to a great start,” she stressed.
Siemers-Peterman plans to use her personal experiences and education, as well as her sense of humor and outgoing personality to deliver a consistent and upbeat message.
“I want to have fun with agriculture, and want people to have positive feelings about Wisconsin agriculture,” she said.
“We need to reach out to consumers and businesses, and thank them for using real Wisconsin cheese, or just have a conversation around the dinner table about why we’re serving Wisconsin peas.
“Keeping positive messages in front of people in our state, and across the nation will help keep Wisconsin agriculture great and growing,” she stressed.