Starting out as a show intern during her college years, Marjorie Stieve has been lending a hand at World Dairy Expo ever since.

Coffeen peggy
Coffeen was a former editor and podcast host with Progressive Dairy. 

Most of her work is behind the scenes, at one time as a staff member and today as a gracious volunteer, and the fruits of her efforts are enjoyed by all who attend the event.

From serving as an adviser for the trade show to unpacking merchandise for the iconic Purple Cow Gift Shop, Stieve shares her love for the expo by giving back year after year. In fact, her dedication was recognized last year when she was honored with the “Friend of Expo” award.

Stieve, who works as the marketing services manager at Madison, Wisconsin-based Vita Plus, shares her experiences and favorite memories as an expo volunteer with Progressive Dairyman.

How long have you been volunteering with WDE?


STIEVE: My road to being a World Dairy Expo volunteer is a bit of a different one. I had the special opportunity to work as a member of the World Dairy Expo staff for 11 years, first as a program assistant helping with the dairy cattle show, then with commercial exhibits before moving into the marketing area.

I spent my last eight to nine years on staff as the marketing manager. Prior to that, I had two expo internships (starting the 25th anniversary year) during the show and also worked at the expo with Badger Dairy Club a little after transferring into the University of Wisconsin – Madison as a junior.

So technically, my official start as a World Dairy Expo volunteer came at the end of 2003 once I left the staff.

Describe your involvement as a volunteer. What duties do you assume?

STIEVE: Through Vita Plus, year-round I have the opportunity to serve on the World Dairy Expo Commercial Exhibits Committee. We meet twice a year, plus an informal meeting at World Dairy Expo. This is a committee made up of 20 voting members elected by the commercial exhibitors of World Dairy Expo.

These members are exhibitors at World Dairy Expo, represent a variety of segments of the dairy industry and span all areas of the trade show at the expo. The committee is critical to the success of World Dairy Expo as they are the eyes and ears on the trade show floor.

These individuals are the driving force behind the success of the trade show and work closely with expo staff to develop any progressions the show makes through the years.

I also help Annette Ziegler with setup of the World Dairy Expo Purple Cow Gift Shop. Usually on Saturday and Sunday before the show, I assist her with unpacking all the theme and gift items. On Sunday, we work on unpacking all the clothing to fill the bins and the hanging racks and to get all the inventories arranged. I also try to volunteer a shift in the Exhibition Hall during exhibit move-in.

From year to year, there are sometimes a variety of special projects. Last year, I was able to help with some special planning for the 50th anniversary and did the historical couch interviews during the anniversary party. Occasionally, I still help a little with the show ring decorating.

Last year, Vita Plus got to work closely with the World Dairy Expo staff to host the summer board meeting and picnic where the special 50th commemorative anniversary print was unveiled. We offered tours of our Madison production plant to attendees. I think it may have been one of the larger picnics they’ve had.

Describe other involvement you’ve had with WDE.

STIEVE: Pretty much the above plus being a commercial exhibitor as a company and three-star sponsor. As an organization, Vita Plus employee-owners volunteer countless hours year-round to help make World Dairy Expo the great show it is.

I think we have one or a handful of people helping in every area of the show. As an organization, we embrace World Dairy Expo and realize how fortunate we are to have it in our “backyard.”

What is your favorite part about WDE?

STIEVE: World Dairy Expo is about bringing our great dairy industry together. There are so many, many special features and moments I’ve been fortunate to be a part of over the years. Whether it was working with the recognition award winners or members of the media from across the world, my favorite memories are always about the people.

Whether it was the success they have in the show ring or the special behind-the-scenes work that goes into making an event feature that much more memorable for attendees, those are things that stand out to me.

Now, as a volunteer, it is the same thing. From the start of setup to tear down on Saturday, my favorite part is seeing the people you’ve come to know for years and all the new ones you meet.

What motivates you to come back as a volunteer year after year?

STIEVE: All of the above and knowing that your time helping the staff, board and fellow exhibitors get ready for dairy industry enthusiasts from across the world is valuable and needed.

If you could highlight one special memory from your volunteer experience, what would it be and why?

STIEVE: I especially look forward to helping Annette unpack all the theme T-shirts and sweatshirts for the Purple Cow Gift Shop. It’s fun to open the boxes and have her show me all the new designs and colors. We always try and guess what design or item will sell the best.

Over the weekend before the gift shop opens, as we are unpacking items, exhibitors and volunteers are always stopping by, excited to get a first glimpse of what will be available for sale each year. I also really enjoyed conducting the interviews during last year’s anniversary party.

Sharing special memories with some of the early foundational people of the expo – and helping them to tell their stories was wonderful.  end mark

PHOTO: Marjorie Stieve - World Dairy Expo volunteer. Courtesy photo.

Peggy Coffeen