Zoey Brooks, of Waupaca, is ready for the Alice in Dairyland competition.
The finals will be held May 15-17 in Clark County.
Brooks joins five other finalists for the 67th Alice in Dairyland competition: Allyson Binversie, Manitowoc; Katie Dogs, Watertown; Kristin Klossner, New Glarus; Melissa Ploeckelman, Stetsonville; and Whitney Rathke, Fredonia.
The finals will include job and media interviews, tours of local agribusinesses, impromptu speeches and question-and-answer sessions.
Alice in Dairyland is a one-year public relations position. As an employee of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, she helps educate urban and rural audiences about the importance of agriculture.
Serving as Wisconsin’s 67th Alice in Dairyland would be ideal for Brooks, who has a background in agriculture.
She was raised on her family’s dairy and grain farm, Brooks Farms, located south of Waupaca.
“I feel very fortunate to have had an agricultural upbringing,” Brooks said. “Growing up on a farm instills in you a set of values that are unattainable anywhere else.”
Along with her three sisters, she is the sixth generation to live on her family’s 159-year-old farm, which was established in 1855.
She looks forward to growing the business in the future.
“I plan to come back to Waupaca to partner in Brooks Farms and am very excited to return to production agriculture,” she said. “I look forward to growing the business and continuing the legacy in the future for generations to come. Wisconsin needs farmers.”
“Returning to the family farm is a once in a lifetime opportunity that not many young agriculturists have the opportunity to do,” Brooks said. “I am very blessed to have this opportunity and look forward to also representing women in agriculture.”
Serving as Alice in Dairyland would offer her a chance to further promote Wisconsin agriculture.
“Alice in Dairyland serves the important role of connecting consumers of all backgrounds to Wisconsin’s $59 billion agriculture industry and educating audiences on the importance of agriculture to our daily lives,” she said. “Helping make that connection has always been a passion of mine and I would love to take it to the next level in the position of Alice in Dairyland.”
Her goal is to be a proactive advocate of agriculture.
“All too often we see agriculture on the defensive, defending our industry from the negative attention it receives,” she said. “I would like to see us being proactive instead of reactive in showing others the true story of Wisconsin agriculture.”
Brooks believes this proactive approach includes showing appreciation for both producers and consumers. She looks forward to exciting others about Wisconsin agriculture.
“This is an industry that touches every single person in the state,” she said. “I want to help foster that unique connection each person can make to agriculture.”
Ag promotion background
Brooks feels that her background in agriculture promotion highly qualifies her to serve as Wisconsin’s Alice in Dairyland.
She has planned and coordinated two statewide agriculture/land preservation events on the family farm. She worked with local businesses, media and farms to promote the events.
Farmland Forward was a statewide event held at Brooks Farms to celebrate and promote the Purchase of Agriculture Conservation Easements (PACE) Program.
The PACE program protects farmland by having farmers donate and sell the commercial, industrial and residential development rights on prime farmland so that it always remains in agriculture production.
Brooks Farms was one of 15 farms in the state selected in the first round of the PACE Program. The farm sold and donated development rights on 1,200 acres of farmland.
Brooks worked with the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association (WLWCA) to host the annual Conservation Observance Day. This event promotes the importance of conservation efforts on farms.
Brooks also started “Farm Fact Friday” on Brooks Farms’ Facebook page to raise agriculture awareness and be proactive in advocating for agriculture.
A 2010 graduate of Waupaca High School, Brooks was active in 4-H and in the FFA’s Farm Fest. She will graduate this spring from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a degree in animal science.
Brooks currently serves as Dane County Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom coordinator and as a director at-large for her Collegiate Farm Bureau.
She has held internships with the Food Export Association of the Midwest and with UW-Extension. Brooks has also gained experience working with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association.
She looks forward to serving as Alice in Dairyland to help promote Wisconsin agriculture.
“I want to take that communication and promotion back to the farm to connect others with agriculture from the production level,” she said. “With the ever increasing demand by consumers to know how their food, fuel and fiber is produced, it’s crucial for that message to come from the source – farmers.”