Have a cow, man. Why not? After all, it's Dairy Month here at OnMilwaukee.com. Join us all month long as we explore all things that make you go "Moo" and celebrate America's Dairyland during the Dairy Days of Summer! Brought to you by OnMilwaukee.com and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
Although Alice In Dairyland wears a crown and a sash, don't confuse her with a Miss-America-type beauty queen.
"No, there's not a beauty component or a swimsuit competition during the selection process," says Rochelle Ripp, who was crowned the 65th Alice In Dairyland on May 19, 2012. "I would not have applied if there were."
The selection process included interviews, speeches and an impromptu question and answer session.
Alice In Dairyland, a spokesperson of Wisconsin Agriculture, is a public relations professional working for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Her job is to travel throughout the state (and beyond) to promote Wisconsin products, mainly dairy products, to audiences of all ages in both rural and urban communities.
Ripp says she will log more than 40,000 miles during her one-year term. She will visit about 100 schools and make roughly 400 public appearances. As Alice in Dairyland, Ripp will receive a $40,000 salary and professional travel expenses. She will also be given a mink garment from the Kettle Moraine Mink Breeders Association to promote Wisconsin's fur industry.
During her year-long commitment, Ripp will borrow a 14-karat gold and platinum brooch and tiara with citrines and amethysts – gems indigenous to Wisconsin – courtesy of the Wisconsin Jewelers Association. She is also given a E-85 flex-fuel Chevrolet for the year.
Prior to becoming Alice, Ripp, who is 25, was an associate marketing executive at Filament Marketing in Madison where she promoted agricultural products, services and initiatives. She was raised on her family's dairy and cash crop farm in Lodi and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 2009 with an agribusiness degree in communications.
Ripp chairs Dane County Farm Bureau's Ag Promotions Committee, volunteers with Cows on the Concourse and the Lodi Agricultural Fair, and coaches volleyball.
Ripp has wanted to apply for the Alice In Dairyland appointment for many years. She has known several other "Alices" and says after studying abroad in the Netherlands in 2009, her professional commitment to agriculture became even more apparent.
"During my year abroad, I spoke to classmates around the world, and I developed an even deeper appreciation for Wisconsin agriculture," she says. "I see myself promoting the industry after 'Alice.' It's a life-long commitment."
Ripp says her main goal is to help consumers understand how food gets from the farm to the grocery store to their table. She will also learn more about other Wisconsin industries, like the cranberry and Christmas tree industry, and make connections with the dairy industry.
Another main focus is to get consumers to go out and talk to farmers and learn first hand about what they're doing and how they are treating their animals.
"There are a lot of misconceptions, but consumers need to find out what it's all about and then support local farmers by buying their products," she says. "In doing so, they are supporting our economy and our way of life in Wisconsin."
The Alice In Dairyland tradition started 65 years ago, in 1948. The title is a play on "Alice In Wonderland," and, according to Ripp, there has never been a woman legally named Alice to hold the position.
Because June is Dairy Month, Ripp hit the ground running promoting the industry through dairy breakfasts, tours and speaking engagements throughout the state.
"It is truly an honor to be selected as your 65th Alice in Dairyland at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville, where my Pioneer spirit was able to grow and thrive," said Ripp. "I look forward to the opportunity to be an ambassador for our state's $59 billion agriculture industry while showcasing Wisconsin's farmers and agriculture at its finest."
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.