Alice in Dairyland finalists include another woman from Crawford County

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Five women have been named finalists in the 72nd annual Alice in Dairyland competition, including Sarah Achenbach, of Eastman (front, left). She is pictured with current Alice in Dairyland Kaitlyn Riley, also from Crawford County (Mt. Zion), and other finalists: Mariah Martin (front, right), Brooklyn; (back, from left) Cassandra Krull, Lake Mills; Tess Zettle, Juda; and Abigail Martin, Milton. (Photo by Eichelkraut Photoraphy)

Although she’s traveled thousands and thousands of miles in the past 10 months, Kaitlyn Riley can’t believe her reign as Alice in Dairyland is winding down.

“It feels as though I just started,” said Riley, who hails from a small Jersey dairy farm in Mt. Zion, Crawford County. “But for me, it’s been the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Riley introduced the five top candidates who are seeking to fill her shoes in becoming the state’s 72nd official agricultural ambassador—Alice in Dairyland—including Sarah Achenbach, of Eastman. The other four finalists are Cassandra Krull, Lake Mills; Abigail Martin, Milton; Mariah Martin, Brooklyn; and Tess Zettle, Juda. 

The candidates were announced during a press conference held at the New Glarus Hotel in New Glarus on March 15. Following an extensive interview process, the next Alice in Dairyland will be selected at the conclusion of the Alice in Dairyland Finals Program, scheduled May 9-11 at various locations in Green County.

Riley, who experienced the rigors of the extensive interview process twice in her quest to become Alice in Dairyland, cautioned candidates that the journey would be exacting but equally rewarding both personally and professionally. 

“The various components of the extensive interview process allow each candidate to showcase communications and public relations skills required for being Wisconsin’s agricultural ambassador,” Riley said. “The personal growth you will experience from this process will carry far into your 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 newly crowned 72nd Alice will begin her duties on June 3. 

To spread the message as the state’s top agriculture ambassador, she will travel across the state—putting on over 40,000 miles—promoting agriculture via over 400 public appearances, 220 TV interviews, 300-plus radio interviews, over 100 classroom visits and racking up over 1,000 social media posts.

Sarah Achenbach

Growing up in a family of eight children, Sarah Achenbach, of Eastman, said she spent her childhood helping her parents raise crops and livestock on their diversified farming operation. 

She shared her passion for her rural roots while serving as the 2010 and 2011 Senior Fairest of the Fair, and the 2014 Crawford County Fairest of the Fair.

“Those roles helped me to see how the community and agriculture are integrated with one another and ultimately inspired me to want to tell the story of agriculture for those who aren’t as knowledgeable about where their food comes from,” she said.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a degree in therapeutic recreation with an emphasis in communication, Sarah hopes to connect individuals with disabilities to life on the farm.

“While doing an internship out in Colorado, I was able to see firsthand the joy and happiness these people felt at being able to accomplish simple tasks while volunteering and helping out on the farm,” she said. “This really inspired me so much that I’d like to try this here in Wisconsin.”

Cassandra Krull

Cassandra Krull developed her work ethic and go-getter attitude from farming alongside her parents and siblings on the family dairy farm. Striving to be the fourth-generation farmer at Krull Farms, she completed her degree in animal science with a dairy emphasis from UW-Platteville in December 2015. 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 ST Genetics as a call center sales specialist, providing dairy farmers with different genetic opportunities throughout their herd. In her free time, she helps with Jefferson County Dairy Youth, coaching dairy quiz bowl and jeopardy, and teaching fitting and showmanship clinics. She also oversees dairy youth exhibiting at the Wisconsin Junior State Fair.

Abigail Martin

Abigail Martin has a passion for all things Wisconsin: good cheese, the University of Wisconsin Badgers, and her Wisconsin farm family. She is the fourth generation on her family’s registered Holstein farm. It was there that she found a love for dairy cattle and long summer days at the county and state fairs. Her interest in agriculture led her to pursue a degree in dairy science at UW-Madison. On campus, she was involved in the Association of Women in Agriculture, Badger Dairy Club, Collegiate Farm Bureau and the intercollegiate dairy judging team. She has held previous roles in marketing at the Rock County 4-H Fair, East Central/Select Sires and Babcock Hall Dairy Store. Upon graduation last May, she accepted a role with DeLaval Inc. in its North American marketing and communications department.

Mariah Martin

Mariah Martin is the seventh generation in her family to be involved in the agriculture industry. Her love for Wisconsin agriculture began with her involvement with the Brooklyn Mighty Mites 4-H Club. Mariah graduated from UW-Madison in May with a bachelor’s degree in life sciences communication and a certificate in agricultural business management. Her passion for agriculture has led her to work for and with farmers as an account associate at Osborn Barr & Paramore, an advertising agency with a focus in the rural and agriculture landscape. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and her involvement with Association of Women in Agriculture Benefit Corp. and Farm Bureau.

Tess Zettle

Tess Zettle found her love for agriculture at a young age. Growing up on her family’s dairy farm, she learned firsthand about the hard work and dedication involved with farming. Tess was an active member of 4-H, FFA and the Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association, and she also served as her community’s Dairy Queen and Green County Fairest of the Fair. In 2015, she graduated from UW-Platteville with a degree in animal science, with an emphasis in dairy and a minor in public relations. She currently is employed at Kuhn North America. As product management administrator, she is responsible for the creation of catalogs for domestic and export products. Tess had the opportunity to travel to Kuhn’s home office in Saverne, France, where she tasted some locally made cheeses, further driving her passion and love of all things cheese. As such, this past fall, she proudly represented the dairy industry and Swiss heritage as the 2018 Cheese Days ambassador.

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