Project raises funds for Ohio State Dairy Judging Program

2007 Ohio Beef Expo John Grimes
John Grimes gives this entry the judge's scrutiny at the 2007 Ohio Beef Expo. (Farm and Dairy file photo)

As an aspiring judge, you were handed that clipboard and advised to hang tight onto all your recorded placings and notes for the classes you would judge.

That sturdy surface was also the foundation on which you learned to compare ideas and justify your discussion.

As the years progressed, that perseverance created discussions using the language of “cow talk” with your peers, your parents, your coaches and eventually that foreboding official across the room.

If you discovered the passion, you might even have earned a place on a team or “the” team. Eventually, that clipboard became a part of the story that may have defined your life.

Clipboard project

It is said, “the best way to predict the future is to create it.” With that vision, the Ohio State Dairy Judging Program recently completed a fundraiser.

It is not a task that is undertaken very often or hardly ever. There were some discussions about the idea in 2016 and COBA/Select Sires provided the spark of ingenuity by offering a unique pedigreed ET calf.

She was to be auctioned off in the Buckeye Classic Holstein Sale at the Spring Dairy Expo. It was the ideal platform.

However, we also needed a talented marketer to bring the vision to reality and Dr. Annie Specht (2007 team and a professor within the agricultural communications department) did just — The Clipboard Project was born.


Our schedule gave us just a little over six weeks to accomplish our goals. As we began, there was a realization that not everyone was interested in purchasing a calf.

The good news was, friends and alumni of dairy judging simply wanted to give back.

We simply took $100 shares into the future of the program and the students who would travel to contests and experiences.

What a response we had. Not only were investors willing to write a check, but they also were anxious to share their stories and memories and ask questions about the current program.

There was a constant flow of communication coming from multiple generations, locations, professional involvements, and always a story or two about the coach who guided them.

We thought it was just a fundraiser, but instead, we found a bond that connected us to an even greater goal of how the experience changed lives.


The calf was sold and bought for $8,500. It is not surprising that the two purchasers, Sexing Technologies (the Morenos) and John Ayars, were alums of Ohio State dairy judging teams.

The other contributions tallied more than $12,000 and a new development account, titled Future OSU Leaders of Dairy Judging, will provide funding solely for this program and this program alone.

Although I should not be surprised, I am still amazed at all who gave, who shared their stories, who listened to my pitch, and those who continue to believe in the program.

In the next few months, these folks will be remembered, honored, and appreciated with a few new surprises that will unfold for their benefit.

The project continues to evolve. Yes, it all begins with a clipboard and the notion that four cows led clockwise, head to tail, and side by side can and do change lives.


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Bonnie Ayars is a dairy program specialist at Ohio State University, coordinating all state 4-H dairy programs and coaching the OSU collegiate and 4-H dairy judging teams. She and her husband also own and operate a Brown Swiss and Guernsey cattle farm. In 1994, Bonnie was named Woman of the Year at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis.



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