“Only one girl participated in the event, and she was the high individual in the entire contest. Miss Barbara Riggs, member of the second place Maryland team, had a score of 690 in judging all breeds, one point more than Russell Schelkopf, Nebraska.”
The 32nd National Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest.
Miss Barbara Riggs shattered a glass ceiling at a time when few women dared to pursue a degree in animal or dairy science. However, Bobby Ann, as she was known to her friends, had a strong love of dairy cattle. So, she forged ahead into a territory few women had walked as a student at the University of Maryland.
“She was tied for high in Brown Swiss, third in Jerseys, ninth in Ayrshires, and tenth in Holsteins,” continued the late Eugene Meyer in an article published in the November 10, 1952, edition of Hoard’s Dairyman.
The results Meyer quoted originated from the 32nd National Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest held earlier that fall at the National Dairy Cattle Congress in Waterloo, Iowa.
At that contest, contestants placed 10 classes, including five classes of cows, three of bulls, and two of heifers. There were five sets of oral reasons. That meant Bobby Ann had averaged 46 points on all 10 classes and five sets of oral reasons. She was coached by the legendary John Morris.
This wasn’t her first trip to the winner’s circle. She also had reached the mountain top one year earlier.
It’s fitting to recall these incredible milestones upon the passing of Barbara Ann Riggs Stiles, who went home to be with her Lord and Savior on May 24, 2019. She was 86 years old.
A trophy from the queen
“Barbara was the winner of the International 4-H Dairy Cattle Judging Contest held in England a year ago,” wrote Meyer in that same November 10, 1952, article.
In the fall of 1950, the Maryland 4-H Dairy Cattle Judging Team pushed its way to the top of 21 teams participating in the 29th annual National 4-H Dairy Cattle Judging Contest held at the National Dairy Cattle Congress in Waterloo, Iowa, on October 2. The Maryland team polled a total score of 3,932 points to easily outdistance second-place Texas that garnered 3,795 points. On that day, Maryland’s Robert Barton was high individual. However, Bobby Ann made a strong showing, too.
That win earned the Maryland 4-H’ers a trip to the 1951 International 4-H Contest held in England. Competing against 4-H’ers from across the globe, Bobby Ann took first place honors on July 4, 1951. As high individual, she accepted the trophy from Queen Elizabeth . . . the queen mother as she would soon be called, as her daughter ascended to the throne in February 1952 and still reigns as Queen Elizabeth II.
Took an interest in the cows
Bobby Ann grew up on her parent’s dairy farm in Montgomery County, Maryland. Her parents, Remus and Maude Riggs, had four daughters — Mary Lou, Hazel, Bobby Ann, and Joyce. The two youngest daughters, Bobby Ann and Joyce, took a keen interest in the registered Holsteins at the family’s Green Hills Dairy near Goshen, Md. The two worked alongside their father each and every day and later exhibited cattle at local shows.
Preserved the land
It was through the Montgomery County 4-H program that Bobby Ann met her husband, Sam Stiles. The couple would later farm in that county. Bobby Ann’s love of farming and her desire to see her beautiful upper Montgomery County farmland preserved led her to help develop the Agricultural Reserve Program, which has protected almost a third of the county’s land resources — over 93,000 acres. Today, over 500 farms remain in an area close to our nation’s capital where the development pressure remains perpetual and intense.
A helping heart
Over the years, Bobby Ann hosted many urban school groups on their dairy farm. She even provided housing for cattle projects and took 4-H animals to the fair for those who had no other way to participate. In addition, she taught 4-H members how to judge dairy cattle for many years as a 4-H leader. In the mid-1980s, the family relocated their dairy to Charles Town, W.V., nestled very close to the borders of Maryland and Virginia.
Bobby Ann not only broke a glass ceiling. She helped so many others reach their goals, too.
Barbara Ann Riggs Stiles was definitely a trailblazer.