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Ashley Huibregtse Selected as 61st Alice in Dairyland
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 05/19/2008

A Sheboygan County native has been crowned Wisconsin's 61st Alice in Dairyland. Ashley Huibregtse was selected for the honor Friday night in Sheboygan during a finale program hosted by her home county.

"I look forward to traving as many miles as I can during the next 12 months," Ashley said after being crowned. "I have wanted to do this for a long time and I will do my very best."

Huibregtse, a Plymouth native, will graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison this month with degrees in Elementary Education and Communications. While earning her degree, Ashley worked as an event coordinator for First Lady Doyle, organized the annual Governor's Egg Hunt and served as a Cowstodian with the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board Cow Parade.

In college, she was active in the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club. Huibregtse was named the 2005 Sheboygan County Fairest of the Fair, Wisconsin's Fairest of the Fairs First Runner-Up, and UW Homecoming Court Representative. In addition to school and work, Ashley continues to be active on her family's dairy farm.

Other finalists in the running during the competition were Kim Houser, Prairie du Sac; Cheryl O'Brien, Eastman; Myriah Osley, Melrose; and Tracy Phillippi, Wautoma.

Meanwhile, out-going Alice, Jill Makovec, emphasized how in-depth the state's agricultural sector has become over the years--and how important it is to the entire state's economy.

"From burying my face in a cheese puff at the State Fair to participating in a celebrity cooking contest, I had a great time this year traveling around the state and spreading the message of Wisconsin agriculture," Jill said in her farewell address. "Because of this opportunity, I had the chance to experience a year that I will never forget."

She also announced that she was able to obtain over a million dollars worth of media coverage during her tenure promoting state-grown products. And before giving up her title, Makovec presented the '2008 Friend of Alice Award' to WISC-TV Channel 3 of Madison; and recognized Erica Helmer of Fairview Elementary School in Plymouth as the winner of this year's Fourth Grade Essay Contest.

Also in the crowd on Saturday were some former Alices, including Laura Oldenburg Drendel (1978-79), Debra Casucci Crave (1981-82), Dororthy Farrell (1982-83), Lisa Hoesly Behnke (1985-86), Liz Henry (1986-87), Stephanie Biversie (1989-90), Angela Corbin, (1993-94), Jolynne Nagel Schroepher (1995-96), Courtney Ott Booth (1997-98), Jennifer Hasler Meyer (1998-99), Amy Fisher Brown (1999-2000), Sheri Holt Hicken (2001-02), Natalie Parmentier (2003-04), Betsy Francoeur (2004-05), Gena Cooper (2005-06), and Nicole Franzen Reese (2006-07).

State Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen was also on hand during the evening. He remarked on how effective the Alice in Dairyland program is at educating the general public about where their food and fiber comes from.

"Without this program, a lot of people would be clueless about how agriculture impacts every person in our state and nation," Nilsestuen said. "This program is thriving because of our many supporters. For that, we all say 'thank you.'"

Huibregtse officially begins her duties as Alice on June 3. Until then, Jill will continue to make appearances at various events as her successor goes through a brief training process.

Next year, the Alice finals will be held in Racine County.

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