Iowa and Midwest Mrs. United States Agriculture Alison Kruse (front, left) visits with – (clockwise, from left) husband Adam Kruse, Iowa State Representative Anne Osmundson and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Mike Naig – this spring at the Kruses’ farm near Holy Cross, Iowa.
PHOTO SUBMITTED
Iowa and Midwest Mrs. United States Agriculture Alison Kruse (front, left) visits with – (clockwise, from left) husband Adam Kruse, Iowa State Representative Anne Osmundson and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Mike Naig – this spring at the Kruses’ farm near Holy Cross, Iowa. PHOTO SUBMITTED
    HOLY CROSS, Iowa – Alison Kruse, of Holy Cross, is usually on the management side of a pageant in her role as director of the Dubuque County Fair Queen contest.
    But this year, she is the one wearing a crown.
    Kruse is the Iowa and Midwest Mrs. United States Agriculture, one of several titles offered by the Miss United States Agriculture program. The program’s stated goal is to “truly advocate for agriculture by using the crown and sash as an avenue to start conversations.”
    It is a title for which Kruse’s individual platform is more specific.
    “I am trying to educate that you don’t have to come from a family farm to be in the agriculture industry,” Kruse said. “You can make it in any industry if you are passionate enough.”
    That platform reflects Kruse’s background. Raised in the town of Cascade, Kruse was acquainted with, but not involved in the agriculture that surrounded her. At Northern Iowa Community College, she met her husband, Adam Kruse, who farms with his family on a 70-cow dairy. Since then, she has been helping on the farm while also working as a home-based disability team coordinator for Sedgwick.
    She and Adam have a 2-year-old daughter, Stella.
    Among those responsibilities, finding the time to advocate has been something of a challenge.
    “When I first told Adam I planned to enter the county contest, he was like, ‘OK, I’ll support you,’” Kruse said. “As I continued on, we kind of knew that when I get involved in something, I’m going to go all-out. Our families have really stepped up to watch our daughter (when I’m gone). Overall, everyone has been great in terms of support.”
    Her in-laws, Loras and Julie Kruse, also experienced an unusual event on their farm because of her title. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Mike Naig paid a visit to the dairy during what Naig has called his 99-County Tour.
    “For Adam and his parents, that was really cool,” Kruse said. “None of us had met him before. He was very interesting to visit with.”
    Kruse’s activities have taken her to Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin and Illinois but most have been centered around her community.
    “After all, we milk cows, and we have a little girl,” she said.
    Kruse has not only visited farms and events where she could communicate about agriculture, but has also focused on community service. She raised money for Noah’s Bandage Project, enough to buy 20,000 kid-themed bandages for the charity based out of Kansas City, Missouri.
    She also spearheaded a clothing drive with a goal to collect 3,000 items.
    “It was very rewarding to achieve my goal and donate to those in need in my home county,” Kruse said.
    Those efforts all helped her accumulate the points needed to earn a designation of Iowa Miss Agriculture Advocacy Ambassador.
    But visiting farms and leading farm tours is where she learned far more than she already knew about agriculture through dairy farming.
    “It’s crazy what I’ve learned,” she said. “I toured a beef farm, and instead of shavings, they use shredded cardboard for bedding from a plant in Cedar Rapids.”
    Kruse recruited sponsors to offset the expenses of travel, hotels, entries and clothing.
    Kruse will compete for a national title in her division June 24-25 in Orlando, Florida. She expects to see seven women in her division and more than 90 involved in the various sections covering all age groups from toddler to those 36 years old and older.
    Judging includes an introduction, an on-stage question, an interview, photos, formal wear and a state-themed fashion component.
    Kruse’s parents, husband and daughter will accompany her for a week-long vacation.
    “It’s the only time I’m getting (Adam) off the farm except for cattle shows and sales,” she said.