A 25-year-old woman planning to make cheese on her family farm is the recipient of the first-ever Wisconsin Licensed Cheesemaker Scholarship, a $2,500 award provided by Wisconsin Cheese Originals.

After using the scholarship money to earn her cheesemaker license, Katie Hedrich plans to rejoin her family and help construct a farmstead cheese plant and retail store at LaClare Farm near Chilton. With a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Northern Michigan University, and a degree in accounting from the Fox Valley Technical College, Hedrich is preparing herself to not only craft high-quality farmstead cheeses, but to also manage the marketing and business side of the operation.

“Ten years from now I will be the head cheesemaker and creamery manager at my family’s homestead creamery,” Katie stated in her award-winning scholarship essay. “I will be making a complete line of Wisconsin original goat milk cheeses, from fresh bloomy rind cheese to raw aged cheeses. I would like to be the first female Master Goat Milk Cheesemaker.”

You go, girl.

Wisconsin Cheese Originals is an organization I started last year in an effort to help grow and promote the Wisconsin artisan cheese community. As an organization, we (and by we, I mostly mean me and the people I talk into helping me – my husband, my daughter, my various exchange daughters who, every year, come to live with us not liking cheese and leave as cheeseheads — ahh, mission accomplished) host seminars, tasting receptions, cheesemaking tours and the annual Wisconsin Original Cheese Festival, scheduled this year on Nov. 5-7 at the Monona Terrace in Madison, Wis.

In fact, the scholarship is the direct result of first-ever Wisconsin Original Cheese Festival last year, in which I actually made a little money. Whoo-hoo! As I didn’t do the event to make a profit, I instead decided to offer a scholarship to a burgeoning cheesemaker with plans to make it an annual award, because really, the goal of the scholarship fund compliments the goal of the organization: which celebrates Wisconsin’s original cheeses and helps connect consumers to farmstead, artisan and specialty cheesemakers.

I was a little nervous in offering the scholarship – I mean, who wants to throw a party and not have anyone come – but was amazed to receive nine absolute stellar applications from aspiring cheesemakers by the March 15 deadline. I then gave copies of each application to my five-person scholarship committee (made up of industry leaders and cheesemakers) and asked them to pick the recipient.

Needless to say, I am absolutely delighted that Katie is the first scholarship winner. I’m very much looking forward to following her career and tasting her Wisconsin Original cheeses in the coming years. Congratulations, Katie!

4 thoughts on “Next Generation Cheesemaker

  1. Congratulations, Jeanne, on making WI Cheese Originals so successful. The ability to offer this scholarship is a tribute to you and all the dedicated Wisconsin cheese artisans and enthusiasts who joined with you to make this possible. Great KUDOs to you all!

  2. How fantastic that you can offer a scholarship! A very kind and important gesture. Looking forward to trying Hedrich's cheese.

  3. Will there be a way to purchase your award winning Evalon cheese?

    Have you considered doing workshops or even week long retreats where those interested, could learn about making cheese. You would get a lot of free help if you charged for the workshops that could be more money towards the scholarship fund.

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