As June Dairy Month comes to a close, University of Wisconsin-Platteville alumna Charitee Seebecker ’18 received the opportunity to share her passion of agriculture and represent her home state in the National Miss United States Agriculture Queen pageant in Orlando, Florida.
Seebecker, a native of Mauston, Wisconsin, graduated with a degree in agriculture business. In 2018 she was crowned Wisconsin Ms. United States Agriculture. Seebecker is an advocate of the agricultural industry and uses her platform to raise awareness about the importance of farmers. “We need to invest in the youth, invest in agriculture and invest in the future,” she said.
You were crowned Wisconsin Ms. United States Agriculture in 2018 and participated in the National Miss United States Agriculture Queen pageant from June 21-22 in Orlando, Florida. Can you describe your experience?
It has been a whirlwind of emotions. It began with a meet and greet event with all of the queens from across the United States. We were able to learn about each other, make new friends, turned in our essays about how agriculture has influenced our lives and photogenic pictures.
The day of competition began with individual interviews. Next, we had our self/state memorized introductions. We then competed in state fun fashion, which is where you create an outfit that represents your state's agricultural industry. I did a 3-in-1 outfit that started out as a cow costume with cranberry bog waders and a business suit.
We competed in formal wear and an onstage impromptu question. I did not win the national title; however, I did win the categories of state fun fashion, self/state introduction, photogenic and social media advocacy posts. It was a great opportunity to represent Wisconsin and be able to learn more about other states.
What have you learned from participating in the competition?
I have learned how to think better on my feet, how incredibly diverse the world's agriculture industry is, and how to handle loss with grace and support of others that win. I couldn't be more excited to see how the winner's year plays out for her; I know she will do a great job! As for me, I also learned that no matter what happens, agriculture will always be a part of my life and I will remain an advocate for the industry I love.
Your platform focuses on educating the public on where their food comes from and the importance of farmers. Why are these topics important?
In the past, almost everyone was connected to farming, either personally or maybe lived near a farm or knew an employee; people trusted farmers. We are now in a world where people are three generations removed from the farm and that trust is diminishing.
These topics are very important because people need to know where their food comes from; the dedication and care farmers have for their animals and livelihood, and the truth about the everyday practices being used from those who experience it firsthand. People are believing what they see online, which is not always true, versus the truth from the farmers. We are becoming a world where people think that Twinkies and Mt. Dew are safe, but raw milk and compost grown tomatoes are unsafe.
If we do not take the time to educate others, we will not just continue to see a decline in the agricultural industry; we will be raising a future generation that does not know where their food comes from and why we need farmers in the world. Now more than ever we need to bridge that gap and help advocate so we can support the industry.
How has your education at UW-Platteville helped you advocate for agriculture?
My education at UW-Platteville helped me advocate for agriculture because of the hands-on learning opportunities I received. From classes to my involvement in the Pioneer Dairy Club, Ceres Women's Fraternity, Agriculture Business Club and National Agri-Marketing Association, I gained the knowledge needed. I had many opportunities to advance my speaking skills and leadership positions which took me to different places throughout the states to learn more about the industry.
Why is it important for people to celebrate and learn the history behind June Dairy Month?
Without farmers we would not have many of the everyday essentials we take for granted. By attending a June Dairy Month event, such as a Dairy Breakfast, people are able to receive a first-hand experience and knowledge of farms. They can learn from professionals in the industry and enjoy products that wouldn't be possible without farmers. It is a great way to take the family out for something fun to do while being able to learn, and most importantly support the agriculture industry.