Days before starting first grade, my family moved to Wisconsin and purchased a small farm in Chippewa Falls. Like 95% of farms in Wisconsin, our farm is family owned.
Although all three of my sisters and I had many interests, our lives revolved around the farm and the work that had to be done there every day. Feeding calves, shaking straw to bed the cows, and sweeping up feed were some of my tasks. I learned firsthand how much time, energy, and love goes into being a part of Wisconsin’s agriculture community.
My first calf was named Hyacinth, and I remember being so excited to finally be old enough to join 4-H and to show her at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair. Hyacinth didn’t walk well at the fair and knocked over all the flower pots in the show ring … maybe that’s why they don’t put flower pots in the ring anymore?
After school and on weekends, I helped with chores on the farm and occasionally milked the cows with my sisters. When chores were finished, and the weather was nice, my sisters and I would practice leading our animals and my Dad would be the “judge” to help us improve.
After turning 12, I was finally eligible to bring my calf to the Wisconsin State Fair for the first time ever. It was so much fun and I loved meeting new people from other counties around the state. I’d never eaten so much corn on the cob in one week! Did you know that Wisconsin harvested over 56,000 acres of sweet corn in 2018?
Time off the farm was either spent playing sports or performing. During my senior year of high school, I enjoyed being involved in multiple music groups: show choir, a cover band, vocal jazz choir, and a barbershop quartet! I also served as the president of my 4-H club and loved to see younger members get excited about their projects.
I went on to study agriculture at the University of Minnesota, where I joined the Gopher Dairy Club and Lambda Delta Phi Sorority and created lasting friendships. My internship at Redhead Creamery in Brooten, Minnesota, gave me a new appreciation for food production and I saw the work ethic and passion that goes into cheese making. After graduating in 2019, I accepted a position at a Wisconsin hemp farm. I still love cheese and music and I’m (not so) patiently awaiting the day I can get myself a puppy.
Becoming Alice in Dairyland has been a lifelong dream. In 2007, Chippewa County hosted the 60th Alice in Dairyland competition and I was 10 years old. My mom was on the planning committee and my sisters and I were able to meet all the candidates.
The event ignited a spark in me, and I hoped that someday I might have the opportunity to be Alice in Dairyland. That dream became a reality on June 20, 2020. I am beyond excited for the year ahead of me and look forward being a role model for youth in agriculture, just like Alice in Dairyland was for me. I can’t wait to share farmers’ stories and the importance of agriculture across the state.
To follow my adventures as Wisconsin’s 73rd Alice in Dairyland, visit aliceindairyland.com!
Alice in Dairyland Julia Nunes can be reached at DATCP, 2811 Agriculture Drive, P.O. Box 8911, Madison, WI 53718 or DATCPAlice@wisconsin.gov.