March 26, 2022 at 8:09 p.m.

75th Alice in Dairyland top candidates announced

Four finalists come from dairy farms
Amber Cafferty
Amber Cafferty

By Stacey [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

MADISON, Wis. – On March 11, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced the top six candidates for this year’s Alice in Dairyland position. Amber Cafferty, Amelia Hayden, Courtney Moser, Taylor Schaefer, Samantha Schuessler and Charitee Seebecker were selected after completing an application and preliminary interview. Cafferty, Moser, Schuessler and Seebecker grew up on Wisconsin dairy farms.
Amber Cafferty
Cafferty grew up on a dairy and poultry farm in western Wisconsin where their family milked 62 cows in a tiestall barn. Growing broiler chickens gave her a whole new perspective on where food comes from. She was involved in FFA and 4-H and other leadership programs that helped stem her passion for agriculture.
Cafferty attended the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and graduated with bachelor’s degrees in agricultural communications and marketing and animal science. After graduation, she returned to her family’s farm before accepting a position with Professional Dairy Producers as a marketing and development coordinator.
“Alice was a role model for me growing up, and I was really excited when I had the experience to run for this position,” Cafferty said. “I grew up in a small town and was the only girl in my grade from a dairy background. When Alice visited my elementary classroom, she became an inspiration for me to keep pursuing my dream in ag. I want to be that role model for young people wondering what their future role in ag could be. There are a lot of opportunities out there.”
Cafferty said her father has been her biggest inspiration in the dairy industry.
“He always let me be hands-on and listened to my ideas,” she said. “He let me run with things and see where it would take us. I helped with calves, vet checks and the nitty gritty on the farm which spurred my passion for ag and dairy.”
If chosen as the 75th Alice in Dairyland, Cafferty is looking forward to getting out to farms and learning more about parts of the agricultural industry she is not as familiar with like ginseng and cranberries. She is also eager to attend dairy breakfasts and talk with consumers.
“We have such a unique opportunity in this position to reach a wider audience,” Cafferty said. “I’d like to branch out and tell the stories of farmers across Wisconsin who are doing so much good, including sustainability practices for land and water. Those stories need to be told.”
Courtney Moser
Moser grew up on her family’s registered Holstein dairy farm where she did everything from milking to feeding calves to picking up hay bales. She was involved with 4-H, FFA and the Wisconsin Holstein Association. At the age of 12, she earned first place in the WHA junior speaking contest. She spoke about her desire to be Alice in Dairyland one day. Moser was named after the 50th Alice in Dairyland, Courtney Booth.
“I know her on a personal level, and she is a tremendous person,” Moser said. “Ever since learning I was named after Courtney Booth, I’ve had a great admiration for the role of Alice and the women who’ve served in the position and knew that someday I wanted to apply. Each year, I’ve made it my goal to meet the woman serving as Alice.”  
Moser was the 2017 WHA princess and is serving as the 2021 Vernon County Fairest of the Fair. Moser attended Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communication, concentrating on multimedia journalism and organizational and public relations while also receiving a minor in leadership. She is the digital marketing strategist for Valley Fudge & Candy in Coon Valley, Wisconsin.   
“I’m really excited to be a candidate for the 75th Alice in Dairyland,” Moser said. “I have a passion and excitement for ag that I would like to share with others. If selected as Alice, it would be an honor to learn more about some of the other great commodities our state’s producers are known for and share that knowledge with people of all ages and backgrounds.”
Moser said her parents were a big inspiration to her; her dad as the dairy farmer and her mom working off the farm while still maintaining farm bookwork.
“Their hard work and dedication and the way they raised me and my brother was very influential,” Moser said.
From working on her family’s dairy farm to doing an internship with Progressive Dairy to promoting dairy products at her current job, Moser said the experiences she has had would make her a great fit for Alice.
“I want to build upon what previous Alices have done while also making the role my own,” she said. “I look forward to educating and building excitement for what ag is so well known for – its health benefits, diversity and quality. From farmers to processors, there are many great people in agriculture working hard to raise wholesome products. Sharing their story is so important.”
Samantha Schuessler
Ever since she was a little girl, Schuessler wanted to run for Alice in Dairyland.
“I always looked up to her and appreciated what she stood for and the knowledge she was able to share with consumers,” Schuessler said.
Schuessler grew up on her family’s dairy farm near Antigo.
“I grew up in a close ag community where everyone knew each other and were always willing to help one another,” she said. “Those are the kind of people I’d like to give back to. I want to share their stories and let consumers know this is where safe and nutritious food comes from.”
Schuessler is the daughter of Rick and Connie Schuessler. Her family milks 480 Holsteins, and a few Jerseys could always be found in the herd for Schuessler and her sister to show. Schuessler has fond memories of feeding calves and tapping trees for maple syrup. She was active in 4-H and FFA and showed dairy, sheep, horses and pigs, and was active in dairy judging through college.
“I’m a secret admirer of cattle judge, Molly Sloan,” Schuessler said. “She was out there doing a great job, and it was neat to watch a female judge dominating. You could see the passion in her eyes when she judged, and I always looked up to her.”
Schuessler earned a bachelor’s degree in dairy science and a minor in agricultural communications from California Polytechnic State University. From her time spent on the farm to working in processing and production and ultimately sales, Schuessler is experienced in all aspects of the food chain.
“I’m familiar with every step from the farm all the way up to the person putting it on the shelf,” she said. “I have learned a lot about the entire process and understand the importance and value of producing food safely and to the best quality for consumers.”
Schuessler worked for Sartori Cheese on the production line making wheels of cheese on the night shift and later did sales for Sartori across five states. Now, as a retail sales representative for The Hershey Company, Schuessler spends time in grocery stores and sees consumers asking many questions on a daily basis.
“They’re curious about ingredients and if the food is locally sourced,” Schuessler said. “I’d like to educate both consumers and people in ag about the diversity of Wisconsin agriculture. I would enjoy exposing them to hidden gems they haven’t seen before. If chosen as Alice, I look forward to doing events at the state fair, classroom visits and media interviews as these are great opportunities to dig in deeper and share the stories.”
Charitee Seebecker
Seebecker grew up on a registered Holstein farm near Mauston where she fed calves and cared for the farm’s hogs and horses. Seebecker held officer positions in both 4-H and FFA and was a three-sport athlete in addition to being active in school organizations. She also showed dairy cattle and hogs.
Seebecker has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture business with an emphasis in communications and marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. In 2016, she served as the Juneau County Fairest of the Fair. She works at the WHA as the director of sales and membership and as a news broadcaster at Hometown Life.
When asked why she decided to run for Alice in Dairyland, Seebecker said, “Serving as the official ambassador for farmers and processors would be a dream come true. I’ve looked up to Alice as a role model ever since I met her at the county fair as a kid. Agriculture affects everyone whether they realize it or not, and we need people to help educate those who do not know where their food comes from.”
Sandy Madland, Seebecker’s county and state fair dairy advisor, is another person who inspired this aspiring Alice in Dairyland.
“I’ve learned so much from Sandy,” Seebecker said. “Seeing her dairy operation and how she balances work and life while also welcoming schools and other people to her farm for tours made an impact on me.”
Seebecker feels her ability to effectively communicate messages to people of all ages and backgrounds would make her a great Alice in Dairyland.
“As an AmeriCorps farm-to-school member, I taught people about tracing their food back to the producer and have worked my way toward what Alice does every day,” she said. “I’m grateful for the opportunities I had, and now it’s my time to give back to the industry that helped shape me into who I am today.”  
The six finalists are preparing for the three-day Alice in Dairyland finals scheduled for May 19-21 in Dane County, which will include agribusiness tours, media interviews, an impromptu question and answer session, individual interviews and candidate presentations. The selection of the 75th Alice in Dairyland will be announced May 21 when the crown is passed from the current Alice in Dairyland, Julia Nunes, to the new Alice in Dairyland. The 75th Alice in Dairyland will begin her term July 5.


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