Congratulations to Katie Wirkus of Athens, Wis. for being selected as the state’s 64th Alice in Dairyland! Wirkus was selected from five finalists for the full-time public relations position at DATCP.
“As one of the most recognizable spokespersons of Wisconsin agriculture, Alice in Dairyland has an important role in connecting the rural and urban communities,” said Wirkus. “As the 64th Alice in Dairyland, I look forward to educating consumers about where their food comes from and challenging them to spend their dollars on Wisconsin-grown and produced products, as it supports our local economies and communities.”
Wirkus grew up actively involved on her family’s dairy and swine farm and in 4-H. Wirkus graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in December with degrees in agricultural education and mathematics. She was selected as the 2008 Wisconsin Jersey Queen and the 2009 Wisconsin Valley Fairest of the Fair. In college, Wirkus was involved in the Agricultural Education Society and Alpha Tau Alpha. Currently Wirkus is a data analyst at Security Health Plan of Wisconsin, Inc. She volunteers as a 4-H swine leader and as the Educational Chairperson of the Marathon County Market Animal Show and Sale Committee.
“Serving as Alice in Dairyland and working on behalf of Wisconsin farmers connecting residents to our state’s $59 billion agriculture industry has been an enriching experience while living a lifelong goal,” says Christine Lindner, 63rd Alice in Dairyland. “Our next agricultural ambassador will have an essential and rewarding role in communicating with audiences about how our state’s food, fuel and fiber industry impacts every Wisconsinite.”
The selection process included evaluation of her: public speaking, ability to answer impromptu questions, written communication skills, media interviewing, professionalism, and passion and involvement in agriculture. Other finalists for the position were: Holly Melander (Merrill), Melissa Ploeckelman (Stetsonville), Amy Roden (West Bend), and Sarah Sacker (Monroe).
Wirkus assumes her duties June 1, 2011 and will partner with Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board for many June Dairy Month events. During her one-year contract year with DATCP’s Division of Agricultural Development, she will travel more than 40,000 miles in an E-85 flex-fuel Chevrolet Tahoe courtesy of the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board across the state to educate the media, youth and civic groups about the many facets of the state’s agricultural industry. Wirkus will receive a salary of $40,000 and professional travel expenses, as well as a mink garment from the Kettle Moraine Mink Breeders Association. She will use a 14-karat gold and platinum brooch and a tiara with citrines and amethysts, gems indigenous to Wisconsin, courtesy of the Wisconsin Jewelers Association.