As you read in last week’s Roundup, the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture and Natural Resources has honored two outstanding alumni – Alex Ogg, BS 1963, and Quentin Skinner, PhD 1974, along with Ms. Tammy Payne (Au-France), who was recognized with the Legacy Award. Also, the college awarded the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts as the Research/Outreach Partner of 2010. We congratulate all of these worthy recipients.
In Wyoming we’re fortunate to have the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources – it’s truly a part of the lives of those of us involved in agriculture.
I have known and worked with Quentin Skinner for many years, as have many of you. The enthusiasm he generated with his work was overwhelming. Years ago, the first time he came to the ranch to help with riparian areas, he jumped out of the pickup and headed for the creek and jumped right into the middle. It was a cold morning, and I was sure hoping he didn’t expect me to follow him into the creek. And that is where he taught us that day – from the stream. He’s one tough man from Pinedale.
I’m dating myself by saying this, but years ago creeks, streams, riparian areas or whatever name one called them were the “sage grouse” of today, especially on federal lands. In other words, that creek running through the pasture was the thermometer for the whole pasture. If the riparian area was in poor condition, you were in trouble with the BLM or Forest Service. It started with vegetation, and later the EPA and Wyoming DEQ brought in the issue of water quality. Fencing off a stream, or the idea of off-site water, was new to us. Early on we considered this issue a threat to our business. A number of us tried to be proactive on the issue and, with the leadership of Jack Turnell, initiated the Wyoming Riparian Association for everyone’s education.
Quentin was a major player in the state, as he was one of the few who really understood the dynamics of a stream. I first heard about his work from what he and landowners did on the Muddy Creek north of Baggs. He took away the threat and, in our eyes, made the issue manageable In my eyes, he walked on water.
One cannot speak of being proactive without mentioning another one of the UW College of Agriculture and Natural Resources awardees, the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts (WACD). Their track record of working with landowners, urban communities, NRCS and other federal and state agencies and the public at large is unmatched in the state. When WACD, Quentin and other from NRCS and the UW College of Ag hooked up to educate us on water quality and water monitoring issues, we were in good hands and we accomplished something. All of these people worked together in a partnership, and no one cared who got the credit. Just identify the issue, set goals and objectives, find some funding and get to work. It wasn’t quite that easy, but at times it seemed so.
What a timely award ceremony to take place, honoring both Quentin and WACD for all of their hard work to make Wyoming a better place to live.