WATA Nominates Ag Leaders In Governor’s Contest

The Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association will take center stage on March 12 at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Lake Geneva. WATA nominated five ag tourism experts for five of the six award nomination categories.

Meet the nominees:

Pam Jahnke

Pam Jahnke, aka The Fabulous Farm Babe, of the Mid-West Farm Report is up for the Governor’s Legacy Award. For 33 years, Pam’s Mid-West Farm Report has aired from 5-6 a.m. Today, you can listen in 66 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties across 36 radio stations. Her broadcasts, web posts, and social media engagements, as well as personal relationships across the state, have helped build the state’s reputation as a premier national destination for agriculture, fairs, festivals, and tourism.

“Pam is Wisconsin’s first social media farm influencer,” WATA says.

Her excellent work and service have been recognized by several professional and civic organizations over the years. She received the “Honorary Recognition” award from UW-Madison, an honorary “American FFA Degree”, and citations from the Wisconsin State Senate. She earned the title “Friend of Agriculture” by DATCP for her assistance in raising awareness of the “Harvest of Hope” program. The Badger chapter of the National Agri-marketing Association selected her as “Agri-Marketing Person Of The Year in 2013. In 2022, WATA named her “Friend of WATA.” She served as president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) in 2010. In 2013, NAFB named her Farm Broadcaster of the Year. More recently, NAFB inducted Pam into the Hall of Fame.

Malorie Paine

Malorie Paine, Plover Area CVV Executive Director is up for the Governor’s Rising Star Award.

Since moving to Wisconsin two years ago, Paine has won numerous awards for her dedicated work including the Agricultural Communicator Network’s 2022 Andy Markwart Horizon Award. Paine, who sits on the WATA Board of Directors, collaborated with WATA to develop Savor and Sow: An Ag-Venture Weekend Getaways.

Schuster’s Farm

Schuster’s Farm, Deerfield, is up for the Governor’s Arts, Heritage, and Culture Award as they have preserved the last century round barn in Dane County. In 2022, the same year that Dane County saw more than $1.3 billion in direct visitor spending and more than $2.3 billion in total economic impact from tourism, Schuster’s Playtime Farm hosted more than 70,000 guests and employed 200 seasonal farmhands.

The Schusters’ agricultural tourism business and their centennial round barn thrive in an interdependent
relationship: one could not exist without the other. If not for the centennial round barn, the branding and
mission of Schuster’s Playtime Farm would not have taken such a memorable hold in farm visitors’
experiences. If not for agritourism – the inviting of guests to experience agriculture – this centennial round barn would not be standing. It is truly a Wisconsin landmark.

Basse’s Taste of Country

Basse’s Taste of Country, Colgate, is up for the Governor’s Tourism Innovation Award. It is one of the first ag tourism destinations to go cashless. Basse’s also share their experiences with other farmers to help make the consumer experience frictionless – reducing wait time and long lines.

The farm: Basse’s Taste of Country is located in rural Washington County and is a key contributor to the area’s economic vitality. This farm helps boost the overall impact of Washington County’s tourism growth of 12.9 percent between 2021 and 2022 — totaling $284 million. This family business also contributes to the 2,233 full- and part-time tourism jobs in the country, as well as to the generation of local tax revenue.

Basse’s Taste of County was featured in the Discover Wisconsin – Fall Fun in Washington County episode promoting the fun on the farm experiences for visitors.

Bon Sens Media

Bon Sens Media, Milwaukee has been nominated for the Governor’s Service Award for their assistance in WATA in their two-year marketing campaign promoting agricultural tourism – Wisconsin, America’s Agricultural Tourism Destination.

Owner Shawn Lehman is a champion of travel and tourism efforts that support family farms and in keeping marketing and production costs reasonable. This Service Excellence Award winner provided consulting, copy creation, and digital content to help launch a two-year statewide Agricultural Tourism Marketing campaign that helps to drive tourists to their next Ag-Venture. These efforts support and add to the economic viability of family farms by allowing farmers to utilize agricultural tourism as a value-added economic revenue stream.

WATA began a statewide push to get even more visitors to members’ farms, event barns, vineyards, petting zoos, and tree farms with the launch of their two-year marketing campaign, Wisconsin: America’s Agricultural Tourism Destination – Find your next ag-venture.

Large, easy-to-read signs boasting LUV-R-AG and smartphone-friendly QR codes were placed at highway
rest stops and visitor centers from Hurley to Kenosha, Ashland to Beloit, Superior to Platteville, and
Menominee to La Crosse. Over 30 signs, each measuring 30” x 20” are now hanging in high-traffic areas in
rest stops and visitor centers across Wisconsin as identified as red dots on the map above. Travelers will be able to see the signs, use the QR code, and find their next ag-venture.