DELAVAN, Wis. – Growing up on her family’s dairy farm, Julia Nunes has always been mindful of teaching the public about the impact the dairy industry, and all of agriculture, has on Wisconsin. Now she is taking center stage working to promote all that is wonderful about Wisconsin’s agricultural industry.
    Nunes, of Chippewa Falls, was named the 73rd Alice in Dairyland in Walworth County June 20. Nunes will take over for the current Alice in Dairyland Abigail Martin, assuming her official duties as a communications professional for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection July 6.
    Nunes attended the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where she earned a degree in animal science, agricultural communications and marketing, along with a minor in horticulture. She was an active member of the Gopher Club and participated in the Dairy Challenge program. She also served as the Fairest of the Fair for the Northern Wisconsin State Fair in 2017. She has interned at Redhead Creamery and accepted a position with Kinni Hemp Company in River Falls after college graduation.
    Nunes grew up on her family’s farm, Scientific Holsteins, near Chippewa Falls. Throughout her youth, she was involved in 4-H and the Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association, growing her passion for not only the dairy industry but everything Wisconsin agriculture has to offer.
    “I have always loved sharing about my animals and how my family takes terrific care of them with consumers while exhibiting at county and state fairs,” Nunes said. “Sharing that story of the whys and the hows of farming and agriculture is so important.”
    In her newly acquired role as Alice, Nunes will educate the public about the importance of agriculture to the Wisconsin economy and fabric of life, a task she is looking forward to.
    “Consumers want to hear from farmers, and with my background and personal experience of growing up on a dairy farm, I am looking forward to being able to be that voice,” Nunes said. “I know how hard farmers work every single day. I know the lifestyle. I am looking forward to being able to help make that connection very real.”
    The idea of serving as the state’s top agricultural ambassador has been on Nunes’ radar for a while, sparked by the experience of watching her mother serve on the host committee for the 60th Alice in Dairyland finals 13 years ago.
    “Along with my sisters, I was able to attend all the events and meet all of the top candidates,” Nunes said. “It really stayed with me, and I found myself looking for and watching Jill Makovec, the 60th Alice, and for the new Alice each year. From that time, Alice has always been an important figure in my life.”
    Nunes plans to take on her role with the same gusto she approaches everything in life, despite the fact that her year as Alice will continue to look different from that of her predecessors.
    “It is hard to know exactly what to expect with the current state of the pandemic,” she said. “With so many events being canceled in the near future, there will be a lot more virtual interaction with people. I am really looking forward to getting into the fourth grade classrooms throughout the state to promote Wisconsin agriculture to those young learners. I have a whole new year of adventures ahead of me, and I am excited to watch it unfold.”
    Nunes was one of six candidates selected to participate in the public job interviews, and she said she was proud to be part of such a talented group of young women with passion for Wisconsin agriculture.
    Other top candidates included Rachel Gerbitz, Milton; Erica Helmer, Plymouth; Stephanie Hoff, Thorp; Kaitlin Konder, Glenwood City and Grace Schroeder, Cashton.
    A new addition to the format of the Alice program, one that Nunes said she enjoyed, was the creation of an agricultural marketing and communications certification given to the top six candidates upon their completion of a an extensive learning module that included presentations and lectures on a variety of topics.
    “It was really great to be able to hear first-hand from so many industry resources during the process,” Nunes said. “It gave us the opportunity to ask questions directly to people involved in the various parts of Wisconsin agriculture and gave us a much clearer understanding of many of the topics.”
    Another change to the Alice in Dairyland program format is the timeline of Alice’s term. While the finals each year will continue to be held in mid-May, the new Alice will wait until early July to begin her new role, instead of the traditional early-June start.
    “The new Alice will begin her duties in early July, rather than on the cusp of the all-important June Dairy Month,” said Jayne Krull, Wisconsin Farm Center director. “That will allow the current, more seasoned Alice to end her year on the high note of celebrating June Dairy Month.”