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Beaver Dam native is state's 63rd 'Alice'

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ANN MARIE AMES
May 23, 2010
— She waited 16 years for the announcement.

Moments after learning she will be Wisconsin’s 63rd Alice in Dairyland, Christine Marie (Lepple) Lindner was whisked off stage and into her first press conference. She carefully worked through the adrenaline rush and explained her goals of engaging consumers in Wisconsin’s agriculture industry.


Then, for just a minute, the dream of that 10-year-old girl shined through.


“I’m just elated,” Lindner giggled after her interview with the Gazette—the first of her career as Alice.


Lindner, a Beaver Dam native, was in fourth-grade when she first met Alice in Dairyland. She’s wanted the job ever since.


The 26-year-old got it Saturday night at the Pontiac Convention Center, where she vied against five others for the job as Wisconsin’s agriculture ambassador.


The other finalists were Christa Behnke of Clintonville, Andrea Bloom of Loyal, Sheri Nelson of East Troy, Katie Reichling of Darlington and Rochelle Ripp of Lodi.


It was a grueling job interview, and the last, frantic bits took place during three days in Rock County, the host of this year’s contest.


The last stop before the contest finale was the DeLong Company, 601 Delco Drive, Clinton, where Wholesale Feed Manager Chick DeLong talked to the group about his family’s business.


He steered the small group around potholes and grain dust and talked about the local grain and feed markets as well as the international export market.


The finalists and 2009 Alice, Cheryl O’Brien, took careful notes. It was the seventh Rock County agri-business the group had toured in three days.


During Saturday night’s finale, each woman gave a 60-second speech on one of the businesses the group toured as well as a three-minute speech about agriculture’s role in the lives of consumers.


The women were being judged on the speeches in addition to interviews and writing assignments they have done since the finalists were announced in March at Rotary Gardens in Janesville.


The last three days of the contest included radio and TV interviews, business lunches, individual interviews with judges and a question-and-answer session with the public.


Yikes!


The point isn’t to exhaust six talented young women but to make sure one of them has what it takes to handle a couple of days of “typical” Alice in Dairyland pressure, said Nicole Reese, Milton High School teacher and 2006 Alice.


“They’ve been walking in Alice’s shoes,” said Karen Lee, a member of the host committee.


And it’s not easy navigating show barns and dairy breakfasts in high heels.


Alice is the face of Wisconsin agriculture and a big promoter of the state’s $59 billion agriculture industry.


The one-year job, which starts in June, is a public relations position for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.


Alice typically logs 40,000 miles and hits 370 events. She visits about 100 fourth-grade classrooms.


Lindner said she recognizes consumers’ growing interest in food production and wants to bridge the gap between consumers and farms.


“My goal is to work to engage consumers,” Linder said. “I want to work to have consumers take action in buying in local Wisconsin products.”


ON THE WEB


Read Alice’s blog at aliceindairyland.com. To learn about former Alices or read “Alice Fast Facts,” visit datcp.state.wi.us and click on “marketing agriculture.”



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