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Mayville Woman An Alice In Dairyland Finalist

WATERLOO – Six top candidates for the 69th Alice in Dairyland were announced Friday, a key step in the process of selecting Wisconsin’s next official agricultural ambassador.

The six top candidates ­were announced at a press conference held at Crave Brothers Farmstead near Waterloo in Dodge County. Following an extensive interview process, the next Alice in Dairyland will be selected from among the six candidates at the conclusion of the Alice in Dairyland Finals Program, May 5-7 in Dodge County.

“While the end destination is naming the 69th Alice in Dairyland, the journey through the coming weeks is one in which each top candidate will gain from this professional development experience,” said 68th Alice in Dairyland Teyanna Loether. “The various components of the extensive interview process allows each woman to showcase communications and public relations skills required for being the ambassador of Wisconsin’s $88.3 billion agriculture community. The personal growth they will experience from this process will carry far into their future careers.”

The candidates are:

Jenna Braun, Mayville, is a field representative for a local canning company, where she works with area farmers to raise peas and sweet corn. She developed a passion for agriculture while raising state certified seed potatoes on her family’s fifth generation corn, soybean and potato farm. Braun graduated from North Dakota State University with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Communications and a minor in Food Safety. As a freshman in college, Braun served on the State FFA Officer team. She continues to volunteer with FFA students and enjoys working with and promoting all facets of agriculture.

“My goal while serving as the 69th Alice in Dairyland is to use my passion and experience to help the Wisconsin food and agriculture industry tell its story. There is something so rewarding about being able to help someone understand where their food comes from. It is sometimes hard for us as agriculturalists to remember that with less than two percent of the U.S. population directly involved in farming, we are lucky to know what we know about agriculture and, if we don’t tell our story someone else will.”

Victoria Horstman, Sparta, grew up working on her family dairy. In May 2015, she earned her bachelor’s degree from UW Oshkosh in Journalism and Public Relations. There she was active in the Public Relations Student Society of America and a member of Kappa Tau Alpha National Honor Society. As a candidate for the 69th Alice in Dairyland, she plans to focus her efforts on educating others on the processes by which food is grown, processed and eventually consumed. She also intends to highlight Wisconsin products’ large economic impact by using new media to target younger audiences.

“I want young people to be knowledgeable and excited about the Wisconsin-made products that play such a vital role in the regional, national and global economy. I’m excited to meet entrepreneurs and members of the agriculture community, to learn about their businesses and share their stories with the rest of our great state.”

Kristin Klossner, New Glarus, resides on her family’s 257-acre dairy farm. She currently is a sales associate at the West Revenue Generation Services in their financial sector. Klossner graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education and minors in Dairy Science and Athletic Coaching. Klossner credits her love of agriculture to growing up showing livestock through 4-H, FFA and the Wisconsin Holstein Association. Klossner gives back to these organizations today by serving on leadership boards, coaching dairy bowl and hosting the John Klossner Memorial Fitting Contest at the Green County Fair.

“As agriculturalists, it is our job to not only plant the seeds of our future harvest, but the seeds of knowledge as well. Through the role of Alice, I hope to inspire upcoming generations to fall in love with the industry that provides food, fiber and fuel. Helping consumers connect with the land, animals and people who provide their food helps to give them an understanding and trust of the food they are consuming.”

Ann O’Leary, Evansville, grew up showing Jerseys and Holsteins at the county, district and state level. She was heavily involved in the Rock County Jr. Holstein Association and the Rock County 4-H Program and served as the 2009 Rock County 4-H Fair Queen. O’Leary studied Biology and Neuroscience at Carthage College and graduated with All College Honors in May, 2014. She currently works at Epic as a corporate recruiter, volunteers with the Rock County 4-H Program and serves on the Carthage College Alumni Council. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, water skiing and spending time with family.

“As Alice in Dairyland, I want to share the story of Wisconsin’s $88.3 billion agricultural industry with both producers and consumers. My goal is to educate them on the diversity of Wisconsin’s industry and encourage people of all backgrounds to become advocates of Wisconsin agricultural products.”

Emily Selner, Denmark, hopes to apply her diverse experience in the agricultural and food industry as Wisconsin’s agricultural ambassador. Growing up, Selner was active on her family’s dairy farm, where they milked registered Holstein cows. In May, she’ll complete her bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics and Life Sciences Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At UW-Madison, she is president of UW’s Association of Women in Agriculture, chaired the World Dairy Expo Cheese Stand and is active in Collegiate Farm Bureau. She currently works at the Wisconsin Cheesemakers Association. She plans to attend law school in the future to become an attorney serving Wisconsin’s agriculture industry.

“My passion for agriculture is rivaled only by my love for all things Wisconsin. It would be an honor to represent Wisconsin agriculture and share my experiences with consumers, agriculturists and others as the 69th Alice in Dairyland.”

Joanna Wavrunek, Denmark, is the fifth generation of her family involved in the farming industry. Agriculture has and continues to be the foundation around which she has built her life. Her passion led her to serve as the State FFA Reporter and work as a facilitator for the National FFA Organization. She promoted the agriculture industry while building leadership, civic engagement, and career success to thousands of students. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh majoring in Communication Studies with an emphasis in Rhetoric and Public Advocacy. Wavrunek currently works on her family’s dairy farm and at WIXX as a radio personality.

“As Alice in Dairyland, I would use my experiences, education and personality along with various resources to share the story of Wisconsin agriculture to educate a broad audience and encourage agriculturalists to be effective advocates.”

Alice in Dairyland is a one-year, full-time public relations position with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). The official start date for the 69th Alice in Dairyland is June 6, 2016.

In this highly visible and fast-paced position, Alice in Dairyland travels throughout the state teaching rural and urban audiences of all ages about Wisconsin’s extensive agricultural industry. In the position, Alice in Dairyland cultivates relationships with television, radio and print media outlets; writes and delivers speeches; and utilizes social media to tell the stories of Wisconsin agriculture. Additional duties include developing and executing marketing plans, delivering classroom presentations, and networking with industry professionals.

Each year, a different Wisconsin County hosts the Alice in Dairyland interview activities, with Dodge County serving as the host county this year. The 69th Alice in Dairyland will be selected at the conclusion on the three finals program, May 5-7.

The public is welcome to attend three public events during the Finals in Dodge County:

Candidate Discussion Panel, Friday, May 6, Barn at Windy Pine, Waterloo, 5:30 p.m. ($15);

69th Alice Finale Banquet & Program, Saturday, May 7, Turner Hall, Watertown, 4:30 p.m. Social Hour, 5:30 p.m. Banquet; ($25);

69th Alice Finale Program Only, Saturday, May 7, Watertown High School, 7 p.m. (Afterglow Reception to follow) ($5).

For all event information and ticket sales, visit aliceindairyland.com.