Since its start in 2009, Wisconsin Cheese Originals has awarded $19,000 in scholarships to help Wisconsin artisans earn Wisconsin cheesemaker licenses. Membership dues are used to provide at least one $2,500 and additional $500 awards to Wisconsin residents committed to pursuing cheesemaking as a career.
Wisconsin is the only state in the nation to require cheesemakers to be licensed, a lengthy process that requires multiple cheesemaking courses, 240 hours of apprenticeship with an existing licensed Wisconsin cheesemaker, and passing a written test administered by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture.
Applications for the 2017 Wisconsin Cheese Originals Beginning Cheesemaker Scholarship are now available.
Click here to download the 2017 application as a Word document. Applications are due March 3, 2017.
Click here to download a comprehensive document detailing the steps involved with obtaining a Wisconsin Cheesemaker’s License.
Click here to visit the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture’s website and scroll to “Cheesemaker License” to view helpful links to obtaining a Cheesemaker’s License and Cheesemaker Qualification Addendum.
Past scholarship recipients include:
Katie Hedrich Fuhrmann of LaClare Farms obtained her license after receiving the very first Wisconsin Cheese Originals Scholarship. At the 2011 U.S. Champion Cheese Contest, she took Best in Show for her goat’s milk cheese, Evalon, and was named the U.S. Champion Cheesemaker, the youngest cheesemaker to ever earn the title. In 2013, she and her family built a new farmstead cheese plant on their farm near Pipe, Wis. In 2015, her Cave Aged Chandoka, a partnership with Standard Market in Chicago, won Runner-Up Best in Show at the American Cheese Society Competition.
Anna Landmark successfully obtained her cheesemaker’s license after receiving the scholarship and today owns and operates Landmark Creamery with business partner Anna Thomas Bates. Anna crafts seasonal sheep, cow and mixed milk cheeses. At the 2015 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, her fresh sheep’s milk cheese, Petit Nuage, won a Gold Medal. She continually wins awards for her cheeses each year at the American Cheese Society competition.
Christopher Eckerman will graduate in May from UW-Madison with degrees in Food Science and Theater. He apprenticed under Master Cheesemaker Gary Grossen, and is taking courses to complete his cheesemaker’s license. Christopher grew up on a sheep farm of 200 milking ewes in Antigo. His long-term goal is to continue the family farm and craft his own brand of seasonal sheep milk cheeses.
Michael Stanitis is a Wisconsin licensed cheesemaker and owns and operates Sassy Nanny Farmstead Cheese near Bayfield, Wisconsin. Michael crafts farmstead goat cheeses and is known for Lake Effect, a fresh, spreadable goat cheese, Buttin Heads, a sea salt brined raw milk feta, and Finit Sur La Paille, a classic French-style aged soft cheese.
Heydi Luis and her husband, Cesar Luis, are both Wisconsin licensed cheesemakers and own and operate Cesar’s Cheese in Random Lake, Wisconsin. Their hand-stretched Queso Oaxaca won the 2014 Gold Medal at the World Championship Cheese Contest and placed first at the 2015 and 2014 Wisconsin State Fair Cheese & Butter Contest. The couple also makes Queso Fresco, Mozzarella Balls, Bandaged Cheddar and a variety of other styles.
Alicia Murphy is an integral part of Dreamfarm, a farmstead goat cheese creamery she operates with her mother, Diana Kalscheur Murphy, near Cross Plains, Wis. Alicia also works as a cheesemonger at Metcalfe’s Market in Madison. She is preparing to take the classes needed for passing the cheesemaker test.
Jennifer Digman successfully obtained her cheesemaker’s license after earning the Wisconsin Cheese Originals scholarship. She worked at both Uplands Cheese and Roelli Cheese as a cheesemaker and affineur and is currently a cheesemaker at Wisconsin Whey Protein in Darlington, Wis. Digman dreams of building her own on-farm creamery to craft mixed milk artisan cheeses.
Rose Boero, a dairy goat farmer in Custer, Wis, successfully obtained her cheesemaker’s license after receiving the scholarship. Today, she makes a variety of goat’s milk cheeses at Willow Creek Cheese and teaches beginning cheesemaking classes in her home for amateur cheesemakers.
Gabriella Szmola is a dairy goat farmer in Salem, Wisconsin, and selectively breeds her herd of Nubian and Alpine goats for quality and quantity of milk for cheesemaking. In the 1960s, she immigrated with her parents to the U.S. from Hungary, and today, she, her husband, and their children are working toward establishing a farmstead creamery. She recently completed her Certificate in Dairy Processing and is continuing her Wisconsin cheesemaking courses at UW-Madison.