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Wisconsin woman selected to oversee Milking Shorthorn show

Ashley Abbott for Progressive Dairyman Published on 28 September 2018
Suzanne Lois at WDE summer picnic this year

Whether running a clipboard ringside or stalling show strings in the barn, Suzanne Lois is no stranger to Milking Shorthorn exhibitors at World Dairy Expo and, as of this year, she will be the official go-to gal as the breed’s superintendent.

Lois has a long history of involvement in the dairy industry. Since graduating from the University of Wisconsin – Platteville in 1983, Lois has been employed in the agriculture industry in different capacities. She began by working in dairy nutrition for nine years and then moved to risk management for 14 years, and now her current role is working with herd health products for Genex Cooperative.

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As well as being involved through her career, Lois is involved on a more personal level, being married to her husband, Larry, who is a fifth-generation dairy farmer in Wisconsin. Lois has also raised her two children, Faith and Clayton, to have a love for agriculture, which shows as they continue to be involved into their adult lives, with Faith as an agronomist and Clayton working on his family farm during crop season.

For Lois, her involvement in the Milking Shorthorn breed was a bit of a fluke. “I had some free time, and I thought I might like to volunteer to help at [the] expo,” Lois says. She made that phone call six years ago, and the place where they needed volunteers at the time was in the Milking Shorthorn show.

Lois was happy to lend a hand where needed and soon found her role expanding. Each time she was asked to take on another duty, she had the same response: “I’m going to be here anyway; I may as well help out.”

Lois has helped the vet students tasked with checking animal health papers for the past few years as well as checking in the Milking Shorthorn breed, in addition to helping out with the International Milking Shorthorn Show. She also was asked to take over microphone duties during the Youth Showmanship Contest which, of course, she obliged.

Lois’s confidence in her ability to be successful in this role is well placed. For the past five years, she has volunteered at the expo and has served as the “right hand” to past Milking Shorthorn superintendent Ryan Sterry. Lois considers herself familiar with all aspects of the breed superintendent role due to her training from Sterry. When Sterry resigned as breed superintendent, it seemed very natural for Lois to step into the role.

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While her position with the Milking Shorthorns may have started as a happy accident, Lois has actually developed a real enjoyment for the breed, as well as the breeders and exhibitors she has met over the past six years. Lois points out this show is growing at the expo, and she is happy to serve as a part of that movement.

She believes the breed to be progressive and says there is a lot of interest in their youth program as well, both of which indicate a bright future for the Milking Shorthorn show at World Dairy Expo. Lois hopes to run a smooth show and work with breeders and supporters to help it continue to grow.

Being a breed superintendent is no small feat and requires countless hours of work before and during the show. The job, as Lois describes it, entails everything from overseeing volunteers, coordinating jobs, running check-in and confirming scratches to working with other breed superintendents on larger tasks, like stalling arrangements.

The task list is long, and many would feel overwhelmed by it, but even as the expo grows near, Lois says she feels “prepared for the job.”

While Lois spends a number of hours in her new position, she actually has a very demanding full-time job as well. Lois serves as a product adviser for Genex Cooperative, a career which she has had for three years and she describes as being “a lot of fun.”

She enjoys getting to work with territory sales managers from across the country as well as veterinarians and nutritionists. She works with the extensive line of herd health care products the company offers, and she is involved in every step – from product development, to marketing, to training the sales managers. Her career involves travel, long hours and dedication, but Lois wouldn’t have it any other way.

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It is easy to see why Lois is a good fit for a position as a breed superintendent at World Dairy Expo. Her passion for dairy, her strong work ethic and her enthusiasm for working with farmers form a perfect combination for taking on this “extra” role in an already busy life.  end mark

PHOTO: Suzanne Lois attending the World Dairy Expo summer picnic this year. Photo courtesy of World Dairy Expo.

Ashley Abbott is a freelance writer as well as an ag teacher and FFA adviser in Weyers Cave, Virginia.

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