Cascade native Alison Kruse was crowned 2022 Iowa Mrs. United States Agriculture and 2022 Iowa Miss Agriculture Advocacy Ambassador, claiming the titles of overall Midwest Mrs. United States Agriculture and Midwest Miss Agriculture Advocacy Ambassador. She was crowned in the first week of December and will hold the titles until next year’s competition.
The daughter of Denny and Amy Green, Kruse is a first-generation farmer in her family who currently lives in Holy Cross with her husband, Adam, and daughter, Stella, where she works full time and assists her in-laws on their dairy farm. She has worked on the Dubuque County Fair Board for many years running the fair queen competition as well as numerous other events in the area. Kruse first became involved in running for a state queen title after being enticed to enter a county competition by her fair queen experience and the promptings of a friend.
“When I was in high school I was the Dubuque County Fair Queen in 2012,” said Kruse. “When I became involved in that organization as a member of the fair board I took over the fair queen competition 10 years ago. Since then I’ve worked with a lot of great young ladies through the years and watched them grow. One of the previous fair queens a few years younger than me found the Miss United States Agriculture organization and was running for a lower division, so she asked if I would do it with her. I always tell the queen candidates they can do anything and I have to practice what I preach so I had to do it.”
The Mrs. United States Agriculture competition was created in 2014 to encourage women in agriculture to teach and enhance the American agricultural story. Since the launch of this program, agriculture advocacy has spread across the United States covering all ages. The organization offers the iconic crown and sash to multiple women at various age brackets and levels. County queens are in state programs awarded through county appointed registration, while state queens are awarded the title at state pageants or through state appointed registration. The state queens then have a chance to win the title of national queens, awarded the title and scholarship at the national pageant. Age brackets range from little girls to teenagers and married women like Kruse who hold the title Iowa Miss United States Agriculture. The additional optional titles a candidate may be awarded are Iowa People’s Choice, Iowa Miss Agriculture Advocacy Ambassador, Midwest Spokesmodel and Midwest Cover Miss.
Kruse said a significant factor of her winning was the resources she had as a member of the Dubuque Fair Board.
“We didn’t do walking on stage that much when I was a fair queen,” she said, “but since taking over the competition I’ve learned a lot about being in that atmosphere. I actually produced a state fair queen and a runner up, which Dubuque never had before. I had a lot of great resources to teach me how to walk and things like that. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have been able to do it, but something I tell my fair queen candidates is ‘You have to fake it until you make it and nobody’s life is perfect, even if they tell you it is.’ My biggest struggle was to remind myself of that and have confidence.”
In the state competition, Kruse won the categories of overall introduction, formal wear, on stage question, interview, photogenic, and state fun fashion for the Mrs. Division. While the title and position focuses on the agriculture industry, Kruse said it’s not required for any candidates to have a background in farm life.
“It’s not set in stone,” she said. “I know there are few girls in the pageant who didn’t grow up in the agriculture industry. That’s really cool for me to see that because, even though they don’t know everything, they’re putting themselves out of their comfort zone and trying to educate themselves about it. I’m not like the normal candidate because I didn’t grow up on a farm. I’m a first-generation farmer for my family. When I was 16 I started a sweet corn business with my family’s help. I went on to receive my American Degree, a specialty award for crop production and then I met my dairy farmer husband and continued on into the agriculture industry that way.”
The concept of welcoming new first-time farmers into the agriculture industry became Kruse’s platform focus of her queen candidacy.
“The platform I choose was ‘First Generation Farmers and Youth are the Future of Agriculture’ because they truly are. It’s great to have the people who are in it now, but we need to look at the future of how we’re going to sustain this industry. I like to remind people that agriculture is a dying breed and we need to make sure it’s not.”
Kruse has already taken part in many county events during her time as a county queen, a commitment which earned her the title of Midwest Miss Agriculture Advocacy Ambassador, and plans to expand her activities throughout Iowa in her new position as state queen.
“The title is what you make it, but I’ve been very involved myself,” she said. “I’ve done a virtual band-aid drive where I donated 20,700 band-aids to cancer patients. I’ve done a clothing drive for the county where I was able to donate over 3,000 items of clothing. I’ve donated books, done over 20 farm visits and been to at least 20 events as well. I truly like to travel and meet different people because everyone can teach you something different about the industry which you can take and apply to your life or teach someone else about. That was all with my county title, but with my state title I plan to do more things like that throughout Iowa.”
In June, Kruse will travel to Orlando, Fla., with her family to take part in the national competition.
“My goal is to really represent Iowa and hopefully bring home a national title, but if not that, I want to learn as much as I can and be an advocate for the state of Iowa and first-generation farmers.”