The top five candidates for the 72nd Alice in Dairyland were announced on March 15 in Green County, which will serve as the host site for this year’s three-day finale event in May. Pictured, from left, are Tess Zettle, Juda; Mariah Martin, Brooklyn; Kaitlyn Riley, 71st Alice in Dairyland; Abigail Martin, Milton; Cassandra Krull, Lake Mills; and Sarah Achenbach, Eastman.

NEW GLARUS — Five young women from across Wisconsin have been named finalists for the 72nd Alice in Dairyland position, it was announced at a news conference on March 15 in Green County, which will host the Alice in Dairyland Finals Program May 9-11 at various locations.

This year’s top candidates include Sarah Achenbach, Eastman; Cassandra Krull, Lake Mills; Abigail Martin, Milton; Mariah Martin, Brooklyn; and Tess Zettle, Juda. One of these women will be crowned Wisconsin’s next Alice in Dairyland following an extensive three-day process that includes agribusiness tours, media interviews, an agricultural topics discussion panel, individual interviews and candidate presentations.

“Applying to be Alice was difficult but one of the best things to do personally and professionally,” shared Kaitlyn Riley, 71st Alice in Dairyland. “The various components of the extensive interview process allow each candidate to showcase the communications and public relations skills required for being Wisconsin’s agricultural ambassador. The personal growth they will experience from this process will carry far into their future careers.”

Alice in Dairyland is a one-year, full-time public relations position with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The start date for the 72nd Alice is June 3.

The public is invited to attend two events during the finals in Green County, including the Candidate Discussion Panel on May 10 and the 72nd Alice in Dairyland Finale Program on May 11. For more information, visit aliceindairyland.com.

The finalists

Sarah Achenbach is one of eight siblings in her family, growing up on a diversified crop and livestock farm near Eastman. She participated in local 4-H and FFA clubs as a youth, holding multiple leadership roles in each organization. Achenbach also served as the 2010 and 2011 Senior Fairest of the Fair and the 2014 Crawford County Fairest of the Fair, which allowed her to share her love for educating the public on all things Wisconsin agriculture.

She graduated from UW-La Crosse in 2018 with a degree in therapeutic recreation with an emphasis in communication. With her degree, Achenbach hopes to connect individuals with disabilities to life on the farm.

“I was overjoyed when I found out I’d been selected as a top candidate,” Achenbach said. “It has always been a goal of mine to run for Alice and I’m in the right place in my life right now to promote Wisconsin agriculture.”

Cassandra Krull is the fourth generation to work on the Krull family dairy farm in Jefferson County, with ambitions to become an owner too. She’s been involved in agriculture since she could walk, and seeing how far removed people are from the farm pushed her to apply to become the 72nd Alice in Dairyland.

Krull graduated from UW-Platteville in 2015 with a degree in animal science with a dairy emphasis, working at the college’s Pioneer Farm while completing her studies. Upon graduation, she started her professional career with Cargill Animal Nutrition, working with customers on all phases of the farm to improve dairy cow and farmer profitability; currently she works for STgenetics, providing dairy farmers with different genetic opportunities for their herd.

“I seek to understand, and that’s what I want to do as Alice,” she said. “I will also strive to create awareness of Wisconsin’s diverse agriculture industry through different channels of communication and education.”

Abigail Martin is also the fourth generation on her family’s registered Holstein farm near Milton. She’s excited to promote all things fuel, food and fiber in Wisconsin as the 72nd Alice in Dairyland, a position her friends and family encouraged her to apply for.

She is a 2018 graduate of UW-Madison, receiving her degree in dairy science. On campus, Martin was involved in the Association of Women in Agriculture, Badger Dairy Club, Collegiate Farm Bureau and was on the intercollegiate dairy judging team.

Martin has also held marketing roles at the Rock County 4-H, East Central/Select Sires and Babcock Hall Dairy Store. She is currently employed with DeLaval in their North American marketing and communications department.

“Being chosen as Alice in Dairyland would be an extreme honor,” she said. “Wisconsin is so diverse and I’m excited to learn more and put a face to Wisconsin agriculture.”

Mariah Martin is the seventh generation in her family to be involved in the agriculture industry, although she’s the first generation to be removed from the farm. Her desire to be Alice in Dairyland stems back five years when she had the opportunity to represent Green County through their Dairy Queens Program.

“It gave me a spark for public speaking and for speaking about agriculture,” she said. “It also gave me the chance to interact with Alice in Dairyland.”

Martin graduated from UW-Madison in 2018 with a degree in life sciences communication and a certificate in agricultural business management. She believes her great public speaking and writing skills set her apart from other Alice candidates, coining herself as “a storyteller.”

She works in rural communities as an account associate at Osborn Barr + Paramore, an advertising agency with a focus in the rural and agriculture landscape.

“As Alice in Dairyland, I will use my gift of gab and passion for sharing farmers’ stories to deliver the value and economic impact of agriculture to diverse audiences throughout our great state,” Martin said.

Tess Zettle found her love for agriculture at a young age, growing up on her family’s dairy farm and as an active member of 4-H, FFA and the Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association. She also served as a Green County Dairy Queen and as a Green County Fairest of the Fair, and in 2018, she served as a Green County Cheese Days Ambassador.

“Ag is truly what makes me tick and it’s what I want to do with the rest of my life,” she said. “And being in Wisconsin, with so much diversity, we have so much to talk about and have opportunities to connect with consumers with our points of view.”

Zettle graduated in 2015 from UW-Platteville with a degree in animal science with an emphasis in dairy and a minor in public relations. She is currently employed at Kuhn North America as a product management administrator, responsible for the creation of catalogs for domestic and export products.

“Being named a finalist was such a surreal moment for me because the opportunity is one of a kind and so prestigious to the state,” she said. “I take it as a blessing.”