Alice in Dairyland's experiences are no small potatoes
Last spring, Kristin Olson was selected as the 66th Alice in Dairyland – a one-year, one-time position. Prior to that, Olson worked as the dairy advertising coordinator. She also has a strong history in agriculture and has won a couple of beauty pageants.
In 2010, Olson graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a life sciences communications degree. During college, Olson held leadership roles in the Association of Women in Agriculture, Badger Dairy Club and the National Agri-Marketing Association.
Also, Olson interned with the Wisconsin House of Moo, Accelerated Genetics and UW-Madison Dairy Science Department.
Currently, Olson serves on several committees within organizations. She lives in Windsor (just north of Madison) with her husband, Trent.
Olson is in the final months of her tenure as Alice in Dairyland and so OnMilwaukee.com checked in with her to see how the year has progressed, what's still on deck and to learn more about Wisconsin potatoes. Yes, potatoes.
OnMilwaukee.com: Please explain your job as Alice a little more. What exactly do you do?
Kristin Olson: I'm employed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), and Alice in Dairyland is a one-year, full-time public relations job. Basically, I serve as Wisconsin's agriculture ambassador.
Throughout my year, I will travel more than 40,000 miles around the state of Wisconsin, promoting our $59 billion agriculture business to various audiences at nearly 400 events. I'll also conduct hundreds of media interviews, speeches and school visits.
OMC: Did you enter / win pageants or anything similar in the past?
KO: Because Alice in Dairyland is a full-time, professional position, I didn't serve in any role quite as unique as this one, however I did represent the Fond du Lac County Fair as county's Fairest of the Fair in 2007.
OMC: What are you focusing on now?
KO: This month, I'm joining forces with the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) to highlight ways to stay healthy with America's favorite vegetable. We know that Wisconsin is America's Dairyland, but our state's agriculture offers so much more, including healthy and delicious potatoes.
OMC: Really? How does Wisconsin rank nationally in potato production?
KO: We are ranked third in the nation, and No. 1 east of the Mississippi. Wisconsin potato growers produce a rainbow of varieties including white, yellow, red and purple potatoes.
OMC: A lot of people try to steer clear of carbs, but what are some reasons why we should consider consuming more potatoes?
KO: One medium-sized potato only has 110 calories and is free of fat, cholesterol, sodium and gluten. It also provides you with 45 percent of your recommended daily Vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana. They are also the perfect complex carb for athletes to enjoy before and after a big event.
Potatoes are also good for Wisconsin's economy. The value of potato production in Wisconsin last year was more than $310 million.
OMC: What do you love about the job? What has been the best part of the last year?
KO: Holding the position of Wisconsin's 66th Alice in Dairyland has led to career experiences I never could have imagined and has opened up my eyes to just how diverse our state's $59 billion agriculture industry truly is.
There are so many things that I enjoy about my job, but it is the people that I've met along my journey, from all backgrounds and walks of life, that have made it truly rewarding and memorable. I am certain that the countless connections I've made and knowledge I've gained from them will prove priceless and last a lifetime.
OMC: What are your goals for the future?
KO: Although I am not sure where my career path will lead me, one thing is certain: As my days of Alice near an end, I look forward to staying deeply rooted in our state's amazing agriculture community and sharing its beautiful story for many years to come.
OMC: What is your favorite Wisconsin product?
OMC: What do you like to do when you are not working?
KO: The role of Alice keeps me quite busy, but while I'm not on the job, I enjoy spending time with family and friends and working with my family's dairy show cattle – you may have even met some of them at the Wisconsin State Fair. I also like music and love to sing; I've sung the National Anthem and various events over the years, and I also sing with my church's choir when I'm able to.
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