Last week fourth graders at the Platteville Middle School (PMS) had the unique opportunity to meet Wisconsin's reigning Alice in Dairyland, Katie Wirkus.
Last Wednesday Wirkus visited PMS and presented two sessions of her "Growing a Healthy Wisconsin" interactive classroom lesson to the local fourth graders as part of her three-day tour of Southwest Wisconsin schools.
Wirkus, Wisconsin's 64th Alice in Dairyland presented at Grant County and surrounding schools last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
The presentation, developed by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB) and the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), touched on agriculture and farming in the state of Wisconsin, tips for healthy nutrition and unique facts, figures and benefits about the state's top ag exports, including cheddar, mozzarella and colby cheese, potatoes, peas, oats, wheat, milk, strawberries, cranberries and cherries.
Alice in Dairyland along with Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board regional program managers plan to reach over 20,000 4th grade students this year with the new Growing a Healthy Wisconsin classroom lesson.
The lively trivia game format highlights the impact of agriculture on the state's economy and quizzes students on 16 healthy food choices grown or produced in Wisconsin.
"We are enthusiastic about this proven educational program," said Laura Wilford, director of Wisconsin Dairy Council (WDC). "Growing a Healthy Wisconsin is a fun, action-packed fourth grade classroom presentation. It's structured to complement the basic grade level Wisconsin curriculum and to expand students' knowledge about agriculture and nutrition."
"Growing a Healthy Wisconsin" challenges students' mathematical skills by teaching, for example, that the state's dairy business generates $26.5 billion in annual economic activity and the dairy industry produces more than 600 varieties, types and styles of Wisconsin cheese.
Wirkus will return to Grant County next spring when Wisconsin is to pass her crown to the 65th Alice in Dairyland right here in Platteville.
The 2012 Alice and Dairyland Finals will be held at UW-Platteville's Ulsvik Center on May 17-19.
The university is in the midst of fund-raising for the event and will also need between six and eight volunteers.
Anyone that is interested in donating or helping with the 2012 Alice in Dairyland Finals should contact Angela Udelhofen, the co-chair of the Alicae in Dairyland Grant County planning committee at 608.342-1126.
The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, a nonprofit organization funded by the dairy farmers of Wisconsin, promotes the consumption of milk and other dairy products. Wisconsin Dairy Council is the nutrition education department of WMMB.