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Ripp Reflects Back on Her Year as ‘Alice’
May 7, 2013

‘An amazing experience.’ That’s how Rochelle Ripp describes her past 12 months serving as Wisconsin’s 65th Alice in Dairyland. She said having the opportunity to learn new things and then passing that knowledge on to others was the highlight of being the state’s agricultural ambassador for a year.

“I have really enjoyed watching people get excited when they learn about the world of agriculture,” Ripp told Wisconsin Ag Connection in an exclusive interview. “I have such a great appreciation for the people who make this industry work full circle. And, of course, we should all appreciate the clothing, fuel  and shelter that farmers provide for all of us. The impact of agriculture is so much larger than what most people realize.”

In the classrooms, Rochelle said kids enjoyed learning about the technological aspect of agriculture.

“When I shared with them a video of how cows are milked on a huge carousel, just like the merry-go-round on their playgrounds, they were just amazed,” Ripp recalled. “Kids also seemed to love learning about where their cranberries come from. On TV, they’ve always seen the Ocean Spray cranberries ‘growing  in the water.’ But they didn’t realize that the water is just part of how they are harvested.”

Looking back at what her reign meant to her personally, Rochelle explained that the experience was definitely a two-way street.

“Each day provided an opportunity for me to be inspired, and then gave me a chance to inspire others,” she said, adding that she found touring cherry, ginseng and mink operations the most fascinating things she got to do as part of the job.

Another neat opportunity for Rochelle was when she got to address the state Assembly in April, of which her father is a member. She said many of the members of the Legislature have been newly or recently elected, so there is a need to make sure the agricultural sector stays in touch with their local representatives  in order to keep them informed about the importance of the industry in Wisconsin.

“Like most people, many of those leaders are three to five generations removed from the farm. It’s important that we keep our voices heard as many of these lawmakers are becoming more disconnected from that way of life.”

At year’s end, she has visited nearly 300 classrooms, conducted TV, radio and newspaper interviews all over the state. And also drove her Chevy Tahoe over 34,000 miles–with a few extra thousand still planned before the end of her reign.

Meanwhile, Rochelle will crown her successor this Friday during the annual Alice in Dairyland Finals Ceremony, being held this year in Calumet County. But she will continue to serve in her roll for several extra weeks while the new ‘Alice’ is being trained.

Ripp, a native of Lodi, is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with an agribusiness degree in communications. She’ll soon be looking for a new job, where she hopes to plug back into a position working with agriculture.

The finale program will also be Webcast live on Wisconsin Ag Connection on May 10, which is being sponsored by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and Foremost Farms USA.

Source: Wisconsin Ag Connection



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