10/20/2012 7:00 AM
By Marjorie Struckle New York Correspondent
MADISON, Wis. — Jack Ross was named the 22nd Klussendorf-MacKenzie Award winner at the 2012 World Dairy Expo, but he almost missed the presentation — thanks, fittingly, to his concern for the care of a cow in his string.
Charlie MacEnvoy, a past Klussendorf Trophy recipient who knew Ross was receiving the award, detained Ross, much to his irritation.
“It is a great honor to receive this,” said Ross, of Lowville, N.Y.
Ross began showing dairy animals at the age of 9, He improved his fitting skills and provided expert care that came to be sought after for show strings of the likes of Cedar Lane Farms, Elmvue, Sycamore Hill Jerseys and Greenlea.
Ross credits much of his knowledge and meticulous care of the animals to his mentor, Herb Staring. Staring introduced Ross to the finer techniques of fitting and caring for the animals, treated him as a son, and transported him to shows and sales.
After Ross graduated from SUNY Cobleskill in 1979, he continued working as a fitter for show strings during the season. Until four years ago, Ross cared for and prepared the animals for a variety of the major show strings.
While Ross was working with the champion Red and White Holsteins at Greenlea Farm in Middletown, Del., breeder Richard Green recognized his potential and placed Ross in charge. Since then, he has been responsible for the show animals and the crew. He looks for workers who share the same desire to work hard and who love the work as he does.
Ross has cared for all the breeds, but concentrates on the Holsteins.
He and his family live a mile and a half from his father and brother’s dairy farm, and he continues to assist with morning and evening chores when he is available. But during the show season, he may handle the same number as a small farm while on the road.
At the World Dairy Expo, he was in charge of 25 animals, 14 of which were milking cows. While at the All-American Dairy Show in Harrisburg, Pa., he was responsible for a total of 32 head.
Ross spoke of his journey, “I began as the fitter, working with the crew and now I orchestrate the whole deal at the shows.”
He continues to pass his talent and love of the animals to his children and others.
“There aren’t a lot of them who want to continue with this, but there are some good kids who want to do it. I hire good people,” he said.
Ross and his wife have three children and one grandchild. He also owns and runs a plumbing and heating business in Lowville.
The Klussendorf-MacKenzie Award is named in honor of 1961 Klussendorf Trophy winner Duncan MacKenzie and embodies the principles of character, sportsmanship, ability and endeavor.