This article is the second in a series of articles featuring the leaders of the Association of Women in Agriculture Benefit Corporation, with the first published in the Dec. 20 issue. The organization’s mission is to advance the education of women in agriculture. The organization also supports the student chapter of the Association of Women in Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Kristin Olson serves as the association’s vice-president. She also recently became membership-support and education coordinator for Cooperative Network in Madison, Wisconsin. There she’s responsible for membership services, communication and educational programming.
Olson has more than eight years of experience in agricultural communications, marketing and media relations. Most recently she served as media-relations manager for World Dairy Expo. As the 66th Alice in Dairyland, Olson traveled the state as an ambassador for Wisconsin agriculture. She also was a dairy-advertising coordinator at Accelerated Genetics.
Olson was raised on a dairy farm near Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Her parents, Tim and Barb Natzke, raised show cattle. Olson was a member of the Wonder Workers 4-H club in Fond du Lac and the Clover Leaves 4-H club in Lomira, Wisconsin. She also was a member of the Campbellsport FFA and participated in the Wisconsin FFA Chorus. She showed dairy cattle at the Dodge County Fair and World Dairy Expo. She also participated in dairy-judging teams and was a member of the Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association.
While pursuing a degree in life-sciences communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Olson was a member of the Association of Women in Agriculture, the Badger Dairy Club and the National Agri-Marketing Association. And she was a member of the UW-Madison dairy-judging team.
“I wanted to be involved in the dairy industry and those experiences helped pave the way for the role I’m in now,” Olson said.
After graduating from UW-Madison in 2010, Olson worked at Accelerated Genetics as a dairy-advertising coordinator. She then served in 2013 as Alice in Dairyland, Wisconsin’s agriculture ambassador. Alice in Dairyland is a one-year full-time public-relationship professional employed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Each year Alice in Dairyland travels throughout Wisconsin, promoting the state’s agricultural products. Olson said the experience submerged her into Wisconsin’s diverse agriculture. It also helped her develop skills of working with the media. If she didn’t work in the agriculture industry she would likely pursue broadcast journalism, she said.
“I like telling people stories and helping to connect communities in different ways,” she said.
Olson used her communications skills as a freelance communications specialist after serving as Alice in Dairyland. She provided writing, social-media planning and graphic-design services before becoming media-relations manager for World Dairy Expo in late 2015. She worked with World Dairy Expo before joining Cooperative Network in September 2018. She also volunteers as a co-coordinator of the Dane County Breakfast on the Farm.
As an officer of the Association of Women in Agriculture Benefits Corporation, Olson works with other officers and members to support young women in the student chapter. The organization helps to fund housing for 24 student-members on the UW-Madison campus. It also provides a number of scholarships working in cooperation with foundations and memorials.
“We also host several professional-development and networking events,” Olson said. “Being a member of the association is a great way to connect with members of different generations and from different walks of life. I enjoy getting to know members better and hearing their stories, and how things have changed within the college of agriculture.”
Today is a good time for young people to become involved in agriculture as it continues to evolve and rapidly change, Olson said. Her advice to other young women in agriculture is to use their networks for support.
“The Association of Women in Agriculture enables women to support each other and lift each other up, even in difficult times,” she said.