The evening of May 11, 2019, will forever hold a special place in my heart. That night, in an auditorium filled with members of the Wisconsin agriculture community, I heard my name called to serve as our state’s 72nd Alice in Dairyland. As a farm girl since day one, agriculture has been my passion for as long as I can remember. Combining this passion with my Wisconsin pride, I knew Alice in Dairyland would be my dream job. I was extremely honored to be selected, and I look forward to representing our Wisconsin agriculture industry this year, an industry that sets my soul on fire.

My roots in agriculture start on my family’s dairy farm, located on the north side of Rock County. Like 95 percent of the dairy farms in Wisconsin, our farm is family owned, and has been in our family for four generations. Growing up, I had the opportunity to follow my dad around as we would feed calves, milk cows and plant crops together. Working with the cows was always my favorite farm activity. As a little girl, I was in awe of their large size and gentle nature. I enjoyed getting to know our cows in the barn individually, too. There were the cows that craved attention, and those that just went with the flow. Some cows were boss cows, and led their herd mates in to the parlor every day, while some were curious enough to say hello, but too nervous for a neck scratch.

When I turned 9, I was finally old enough to exhibit my own calf at the Rock County 4-H Fair. I was able to connect with my calf, Seven, in a way that I had not connected with an animal before. Seven and I spent many days that summer together, each learning along the way. I was teaching Seven how to parade gracefully around the show ring, while she was teaching me dedication and patience. Working with cattle growing up gave me a special inside look at the care farmers and ranchers give their herd. Wisconsin agriculturists work hard to provide a good life to the cattle that call their farm home.

I am excited to start my journey as Alice celebrating one of my favorite months, June Dairy Month. All month long, Wisconsin communities turn their attention to one of our signature industries. Together, we celebrate the passion and commitment of Wisconsin dairy farmers and processors. Each day, they work to provide safe, wholesome dairy products for our families to enjoy, while supporting our economy. Did you know Wisconsin dairy farms help fuel the state’s economy at the rate of more than $80,000 per minute? That’s a robust industry! While I travel the state this month and beyond, I will be proud to share about Wisconsin’s dairy industry, and what it means to our state. As I go, I know I will be fueled by passion for an industry that truly sets my soul on fire.

Alice in Dairyland Abigail Martin can be reached at DATCP, 2811 Agriculture Drive, P.O. Box 8911, Madison, WI 53718 or DATCPAlice@wisconsin.gov.