Catch up with … Molly Sloan BS’06 Dairy Science/Life Sciences Communication

As a child, Molly Sloan dreamed of one day stepping onto the colorful shavings that cover the floor of the Dane County Coliseum in order to judge dairy cattle at the World Dairy Expo. Her inspiration came from growing up on a small dairy farm in northern Illinois, taking in everything about the business and the animals. From the farm, Sloan took the steps necessary to reach the Expo and make her dreams come true.

After coming to UW–Madison, Sloan quickly got involved in dairy on campus, establishing a network of dairy professionals at CALS. While completing degrees in dairy science and life sciences communication, she was active in such organizations as the Association of Women in Agriculture and the National AgriMarketing Association. Through dairy judging with her team in the Badger Dairy Club, Sloan refined her judging skills and sharpened her eye for prize cattle.

Sloan’s experiences and determination spurred success in both dairy genetics and cattle judging. Judging Ayrshires at the 2016 World Dairy Expo was her second time on the colored shavings she dreamed about as a kid—and it’s not likely to be her last.

How did your time and experiences at CALS help you get to where you are now?

I grew up in northern Illinois, and I knew all along that I wanted to study dairy science. I realized quickly that there was really no other option than CALS, which is world renowned for its dairy science program. I added a second major with agricultural journalism early on and was very involved in extracurricular activities as well as internships with different dairy genetics and reproductive AI [artificial insemination] companies. Through that involvement I was able to meet the industry contacts that I needed to get internships and, ultimately, job opportunities. When I finished college I started with Alta Genetics, and now, as Alta’s global training program manager, I travel the world pretty extensively.

What’s it like to judge cattle at the World Dairy Expo?

This has always been a dream of mine. When I came to the University of Wisconsin I knew right away that I wanted to be involved in the dairy judging team. Through intense workouts and practices I was fortunate enough to be part of a very competitive team with exceptional coaching from Dr. Dave Dickson and Ted Halbach. After that, I knew that I wanted to continue this experience if the opportunity arose.

The World Dairy Expo is considered a bit of a pinnacle for cattle judging. Where do you go from here?

I think you said it best; it really is the pinnacle in this field. I want to keep doing it as long as it’s fun. For me, every new show is a great opportunity and experience. I would love to have the opportunity to come back and do another show here on the colored shavings.

Molly Sloan, BS’06 Dairy Science/Life Sciences Communication, serves as an Arshire judge at the 2016 World Dairy Expo. 
Photo credit: Sevie Kenyon BS’80 MS’06

A Ringing Success

“They called my cow’s name and the place lit up,” says dairy science major Jordan Ebert. “It was an adrenaline rush—the coolest experience I have ever had showing.” That moment happened at World Dairy Expo last fall, when Siemers Goldwyn Goldie, a Holstein from his family’s 2,900-cow dairy farm in Algoma, was named the junior supreme champion.

Ebert started showing cattle at age 4, often working with his sister, Whitney. “Our county fair had a Kiddie Showmanship class,” he recalls. “Our first purchases of show cattle were Jerseys because my sister and I were pretty small people, so we started with smaller animals.” As he grew in size and ability he started presenting at bigger venues. By age 10 Ebert was showing Jerseys at World Dairy Expo and began garnering honors from shows large and small.

Alongside his work with cattle, Ebert was active in 4-H, FFA and, eventually, high school sports including baseball, track and basketball, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

Ebert, now a sophomore, brought his love of sports to the UW–Madison campus. He spent his freshman year as a student manager for the men’s basketball team, working behind the scenes to help keep logistics and office work running smoothly for coaches and players. “It’s been an awesome experience,” he says. He’s also been involved with the Badger Dairy Club.

Ebert hopes to bring what he learns at CALS back to the family farm, Ebert Enterprises, which has nearly 30 full-time employees and up to 20 seasonal workers. “My plan is to work my way up through the ranks into a management position where I am making some decisions, learning what it takes to run the farm through my dad, and eventually take it over,” Ebert says.

Showing cattle has helped his professional development, Ebert notes, citing the value of networking and interacting with industry professionals. “My success in the show ring has gotten my name out there a little bit,” he says. “I have met people along the way and am a familiar face. I feel comfortable talking with them and introducing myself.”

Marjorie Stieve

Since graduating from CALS, Stieve has influenced many people through her work at World Dairy Expo, Capital Newspapers and, most recently, as an employee owner of Vita Plus Corporation, where she serves as marketing services manager. Stieve serves on the boards of directors of WALSAA, WDE Management and Community Support Network. She also has been engaged with the Association of Women in Agriculture, the National Agri-Marketing Association, the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation, Cows on the Concourse and numerous other organizations, events and causes. Colleagues respect Stieve for what they call her “nonstop dedication to agriculture.”