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New supreme heifer award debuts at World Dairy Expo

Kathleen O’Keefe for Progressive Dairyman Published on 28 September 2018
Terry Howard

On Oct. 6, during the supreme ceremony, the inaugural presentation of the W. Terry Howard Memorial Trophy will be awarded to the supreme champion of the heifer show.

The award is new to World Dairy Expo, but the name on the trophy is not.

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The named awards at World Dairy Expo commemorate people who have been instrumental in the event’s growth and success – names such as Nelson, Hetts, Voegeli, King, Krueger and Blaska. A fitting addition to this expo all-star lineup is Terry Howard, who volunteered thousands of hours in his commitment to guiding and developing the dairy cattle shows at World Dairy Expo.

The idea of a supreme heifer award – selecting the best of the junior champions from the seven breed shows – originated with the dairy cattle exhibitors. WDE staff brought forward the concept of naming it after Howard, and that suggestion was enthusiastically accepted and approved by the Dairy Cattle Exhibitor Committee and the Howard family.

A professor in the dairy science department and an extension state specialist at the University of Wisconsin – Madison for 31 years, Howard was highly respected for his knowledge of dairy cattle nutrition. He was equally respected on the expo grounds, where he served as the Holstein breed superintendent for 21 years, then as overall dairy superintendent for 18 more.

He became a member of the WDE board of directors in 1990 and represented the Purebred Breeders of WDE for more than 25 years. He also served on the show’s executive committee for several years, along with other committees.

Over and over, those who knew Howard comment that people respected his firm, steady demeanor as superintendent. Ruth Stampfl, former administrative services manager at World Dairy Expo before her retirement in 2018, worked with Howard for over 26 years, and she recalls his unforgettable presence.

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“I remember the first time I met Terry – it was at the expo office in 1989, which then was an old house across the street from the now-Alliant Energy Center grounds. Because of his tall stature, he would have to duck coming through the door. His height and deep voice were very intimidating at first, but he truly was a gentle giant, you might say. However, as the overall breed superintendent, Terry’s stern deep voice could be heard over the loudspeaker on the grounds reminding cattle exhibitors of their responsibilities. He would say, ‘This is Terry Howard; please move all cattle trucks and trailers to a parking stall immediately.’ And most usually listened.”

Howard did not shy away from the tough job of enforcing rules put forward by show management that propelled the expo breed shows to the highest ethical and professional caliber. During his time as a superintendent, milk sample testing, ultrasounding udders and minimizing topline hair length were standards implemented by the show to ensure fairness for all exhibitors.

But along with his professional handling of the superintendent role, Howard’s sense of humor was always evident. Stampfl recalls, “In the early years, Terry would start checking in with staff a couple months prior of the show, wondering about dairy cattle entry numbers and show details. At that time, Terry would contact the breed superintendents to confirm their role for the upcoming show. His favorite saying was, ‘There would be an increase in their pay,’ then there would be a big chuckle. [Their services were all volunteered, and the increase of zero payment meant zero pay again.] Everyone enjoyed working with and respected Terry, and the superintendents would again confirm their assistance during the show.”

Like most volunteers at World Dairy Expo, his years of service were also a labor of love. Stampfl reflects, “Terry also enjoyed a good time, especially once the show was up and running. He would always take time to visit with exhibitors, ask how things were going and what could [the] expo do to help. Lunch was always served to volunteers in the administration area of the Coliseum during the show. There you would find Terry laughing, telling stories and shaking hands with people he may not have seen for a while. [The] expo was like a family reunion for him and many.”

Howard’s career work with the cooperative extension service saw him as an innovator in introducing computer technology as a tool for education, communication and dairy herd management. He was an enthusiastic advocate for dairy youth and 4-H programs. He regularly judged 4-H dairy shows across the state and developed educational material for 4-H dairy publications.

His endeavors in his professional life earned him the DeLaval Extension Service Award from the American Dairy Science Association and saw him inducted into the Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame, as well as being named World Dairy Expo Industry Person of the Year in 1994.

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Terry Howard passed away in February 2017. He had been married to his wife, Karen, for 56 years, with whom he had three children, Steve, Matthew and Rachel. In addition to his extensive love for the dairy industry, he was also active in the Kiwanis Club and served for many years in leadership roles at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church.

Many former co-workers and colleagues will be in the arena when the W. Terry Howard Memorial Trophy is presented for the first time, and they undoubtedly will agree with Stampfl’s words, “WDE dedication was first and foremost for Terry – even while his health was failing, he continued to be at the show to view all the beautiful cattle in the show ring; he just needed to be there. Having the new Terry Howard Supreme Heifer Award presented at WDE is indeed a great dedication to Terry’s inspiration and commitment.”  end mark

PHOTO: Terry Howard volunteered countless hours over several decades at World Dairy Expo. The new supreme heifer champion award is named in memory of the longtime dairy cattle superintendent and WDE board member. Photo supplied by World Dairy Expo.

Kathleen O’Keefe is a freelance writer based out of Hammond, Wisconsin.

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