Over the next decade the Ostrom family will dedicate more than $120,000 to World Dairy Expo’s Youth Showmanship Contest classes to honor the late Annette Ostrom.
Annette, 49, of De Pere, Wisconsin, passed away on October 19, 2022, following a courageous battle with cancer, shortly after she completed one of her final wishes. She was determined to be ringside at WDE in 2022 to watch her son Tristen show, to see her industry friends, and to champion her family’s Milk Source Genetics’ show campaign.
Annette was a beloved figure at every level. There wasn’t a part of the industry she didn’t touch or influence in all the best ways.
The tangible legacy of this quiet overachiever is that everyone can affect change…simply by taking the first step with the right people.
Her husband, Jim Ostrom, of Milk Source Genetics, says it is time to pause and to celebrate one of Annette’s enduring passions – young people.
This year’s cash prizes will peak at $3500 for the Supreme Champion Showmanship award. Jim says the decision is a deliberate nod to the significance of encouraging youth, the foundation the movement lays for life, and acknowledging Annette’s commitment to both.
“The most important thing about showmanship and youth programs is that it brings our future leaders back to our industry,” he says. “It might be the most important thing we do in a given year – to give young people the chance to fall in love with this industry that we all love.”
“Anything we can do to build some excitement around youth and youth programs is worthy.”
Outside of Milk Source Genetics juggernaut commercial operation and compelling show herd, Annette was a long-time business manager for Zoetis, and a co-founder of “Dairy Cares of Wisconsin”, a non-profit organization that raised $2.3 million within 12 years for Children’s Wisconsin (formerly Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin).
It included “The Dairy Cares of Wisconsin Simulation Lab”, named after its benefactor. The lab uses computerized patients so the hospital can replay traumas for training purposes. In 2017, Annette and Jim were acknowledged with a “Wisconsin Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award” on behalf of Dairy Cares during National Philanthropy Day.
Dairy Cares of Wisconsin started with a simple garden party of 35 people who collectively had momentous aspirations to give back.
Today, that event welcomes more than 500 people to the Ostrom’s family home each year.
Flawless on the Halter
Annette was an exceptional cowwoman in her own right. Few will forget the iconic images of her gliding out of the darkness in 2016 and into the spotlight in unison with Milk Source’s five-year-old Jersey Grand Champion, Musqie Iatola Martha-ET. Martha would go on to win WDE Supreme Champion.
Annette’s close friend and Milk Source’s young stock manager Mandi Bue – a force in the ring herself – remembers Annette’s connection with Martha like it was yesterday.
“I remember asking Annette if she got nervous when she was headed into the ring with a cow that carried a lot of prestige like Martha,” Mandi said. “She would smile so lovingly at Martha and say that ‘Martha led her’. They were like watching a perfectly choreographed dance, they paraded so elegantly and flawlessly together. I believe it’s because she respected and adored any and every animal, so the second she took the show halter she put that animal at ease.
“Her personality was so graceful and calm – never arrogant – and it allowed any animal to show itself because they completely trusted her.”
Annette and Mandi initiated the five-woman cattle syndicate, La Femme Fatale, which notably owned half of the 2019 Intermediate WDE Holstein Champion, Floydholm Mc Emoji-ET. That buy happened because of Annette’s faith in Mandi’s eye for a potential great one.
The Power of True Friendship
Mandi says outside of the ring, her lasting memories of Annette circle around the power of true friendship.
“She would remind me that as much as we love the cows, it is the genuine and sincere friendships we make along the way that withstand the test of time. Those friendships are what carry us through the tough times, and they are what make the good times sweeter.”
Sara Harbaugh, a Territory Business Manager at Zoetis, also describes Annette as a steady constant in her life.
“She was so much more than a co-worker. She was an amazing friend,” Sara said. “Our lives overlapped through work, kids, and showing and she could always make me smile even when life was crazy.
“It seemed like she never had a bad day, and her continuous optimism through the most difficult times will always inspire me. I think of her often and try to use her example as a guide.
“The world needs more people like Annette, and this program is a perfect way to honor her.”
Everyone Starts Somewhere
Annette’s love of the dairy industry was ignited by her parents, Gladys, and the late Hans Palm. And, when she decided she needed better heifers to be more competitive in 4-H competitions, Hans approached Sherry Siemers-Peterman, of Siemers Holsteins.
Sherry remembers that Annette was a stand-out young person, and she was happy to allow her the pick of the “better heifers at their farm.”
“Annette was quite a human,” Sherry said. “She gained a lot of confidence in herself throughout her 4-H career. Showmanship sets you up for life and it carries many lessons, including presenting your animals, presenting yourself, and learning how to be a gracious winner…and a gracious loser. Annette could do anything she set her mind to.”
At The Heart of it All
Behind all the obvious accolades and achievements, Annette was a woman, a daughter, a wife, a mother, a sibling, a friend, and a colleague who continues to be sorely missed every day. To preserve her memory in perpetuity within the industry is important for her family.
Jim said, “She could tell you the pedigree of a 10-year-old kid running around the show barn at a show more than she could tell you the pedigree of a famous cow. She knew their ages, what animals they showed, and where they placed.
“I might know a young kid who’s 10, but the next time I see them they are a foot-and-a-half taller and they are looking like a young adult, but Annette always instantly knew who they were…because she truly knew that person.
“That is the essence of why we are doing this. Before Annette was diagnosed, she would never have allowed me to name something after her. I did tell her I was going to, and as time wore on, she did come to accept it, because she cared so much for the young people.
“So, while we have signed up for 10 years, I do see this as a permanent thing. We want to make it meaningful, and we’ve deliberately put forward some sizeable prizes.”
Call for Entries
Sisters Nicole Pralle and Jessica Pralle-Trimmer serve as superintendents of the World Dairy Expo Youth Showmanship Contest. Open to all youth, ages 9 to 21, more than 460 youth competed in three age divisions in the 2022 contest.
Participants in 2023 and in future contests will vie for the cash awards listed below. The Supreme Champion will also receive a crystal trophy. Replicas of the Annette Ostrom Memorial Supreme Showmanship Award will also be displayed by the Ostrom family and at World Dairy Expo’s headquarters. Visit the Contests tab on www.worlddairyexpo.com for contest rules and to enter online. Entries will be accepted starting July 1, 2023.
Word Dairy Expo 2023 Showmanship Awards
- Champion Junior Showmanship (cash award) – $1500
- Reserve Champion Junior Showmanship (cash award) – $750
- Champion Intermediate Showmanship (cash award) – 1500
- Reserve Champion Intermediate Showmanship (cash award) – $750
- Champion Senior Showmanship (cash award) – 1500
- Reserve Champion Senior Showmanship (cash award) – $750
- Supreme Champion Showmanship (cash award) – $3500
- Reserve Supreme Champion Showmanship (cash award) – $1500