Category Archives: WISCONSIN Need to Knows

Symbolizing Wisconsin

As most of you probably know, Wisconsin officially became a state in 1848.  Thirty-three years later, in 1881, Wisconsin finalized the State Coat of Arms, a special emblem containing symbols that represent the diversity, wealth and abundance of resources in Wisconsin.

Topping the State Coat of Arms is Wisconsin’s state motto, Forward, and state animal, the badger.  In the center is a shield comprising of a plow, representing agriculture; a pick and shovel, representing mining; an arm and hammer, representing manufacturing; an anchor, representing navigation; and the U.S. Coat of Arms, including the motto E Pluribus Unum.  The shield is supported by a sailor and miner, representing labor on water and land.  At the bottom of the State Coat of Arms is a cornucopia, representing prosperity and abundance, and 13 lead ingots, representing mineral wealth and the 13 original colonies.

Wisconsin is represented by a variety of other special symbols.  Below is a list of these current well-known symbols.

State Song: “On Wisconsin!”  became the official state song in 1959.

State Bird: Robin was voted by school children as the state bird in 1926-27.

State Flower: Wood Violet was adopted as Wisconsin’s official state flower on Arbor Day 1909.

State Tree: Sugar Maple became the state’s official tree in 1949.

State Fish: Muskellunge or “muskie” leapt into the state books in 1955.

State Wildlife Animal: White-tailed Deer was appointed the state wildlife animal in 1957.

State Domesticated Animal: Dairy Cow was added to the state symbol list in 1971.

State Mineral: Galena was selected as the state mineral in 1971.

State Rock: Red Granite was chosen for its economic importance in the state in 1971.

State Symbol of Peace: Mourning Dove flew over WI as the official symbol of peace in 1971.

State Insect: Honeybee was recognized for its sweet contributions in 1977 as state insect.

State Soil: Antigo Silt Loam was chosen to represent the more than 500 major soil types in WI.

State Fossil: Trilobite, the extinct marine arthropod, crawled into state record books in 1985.

State Dog: American Water Spaniel was selected as the state dog in 1985.

State Beverage: Milk representing our dairy heritage became the state beverage in 1987.

State Grain: Corn was made the official state grain in 1989 to bring attention to its many uses.

State Dance: Polka was adopted as the state dance in 1993.

State Fruit:  Cranberry was selected as the newest state symbol in 2004.

The Badger State is made up of 72 counties and is full of approximately 5,711,767 proud Wisconsinites.  Eat some cheese and on Wisconsin!

Becoming America’s Dairyland

Wisconsin has been proudly promoting its agricultural heritage for more than 160 years.  One can’t help but notice the farm scene shown on the upper corner of Wisconsin’s license plate or the cow head, ear of corn and wheel of cheese featured on the Wisconsin State Quarter.

Dating back to before Wisconsin was even granted statehood, dairying and cheesemaking were more than just a norm for Wisconsin farmers.  Beginning in the 1830s, Wisconsin farm wives began making cheese in their kitchens as a way to store excess milk.  By the 1900s, Wisconsin had not only become a top competitor in national cheese production, but was also home to the nation’s first dairy school located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

It wasn’t until the 1930s that Wisconsin was officially named “America’s Dairyland”, a nickname that was both deserving and significant for a state that had been leading the dairy industry for over a century.

Just as it was then, Wisconsin’s dairy industry continues to be the largest segment of Wisconsin agriculture.  Each year, this industry contributes $26.5 billion to the state’s economy and accounts for nearly 40% of all Wisconsin agricultural related jobs.  In addition, Wisconsin is nationally ranked 1st in cheese production and 2nd in both milk and butter production.  Now that’s something to brag about! 

The Wisconsin dairy industry not only represents those that live in Wisconsin, but it is also a defining factor in how others view our state as a whole.  Serving as the nation’s leading dairy industry, is not something Wisconsinites take lightly.  Wisconsin’s agriculturalists work hard to provide consumers with the safest and highest quality of products, upholding the true standards of “America’s Dairyland”.