Lander Valley CattleWomen host college students at Ag Day Symposium
Lander – The Lander Valley CattleWomen (LVCW) recognized and filled a need in the community with an outreach event for college students from the Wyoming Catholic College.
On Sept. 18, the LVCW hosted the first Wyoming Catholic College (WCC) Ag Day Symposium at the Popo Agie Ranch south of Lander.
“Other people reach out to their colleges and communities, and we do things as well,” says Diane Frank of the LVCW. “We do an ag expo with the third graders, among other educational events.”
But Frank noticed a disconnect in the educational outreach efforts to older students and young adults.
“It’s good to have them at the third grade level,” says Frank, “but I think it is also important at this level because these people are here from somewhere else, and they don’t really know about the customs and culture of Wyoming, including ranching and what it stands for.”
“I think it is important for people at the college level to come and learn from other adults about our way of life,” adds Frank.
“We need to establish who we are and why we are here,” continues Frank. “Hopefully we can help these students understand the way of life we have in Wyoming is very unique. It is a honest way of life that boasts freedom.”
The LVCW organized the event, with avid support from the administration and trustees of WCC, and hosted a total of 60 students, WCC administrators, media representatives, visiting CattleWomen, guest presenters and LVCW and their families at the Popo Agie Ranch, owned by Dave and Darlene Vaughan.
The presentations, which lasted just over two hours, covered topics ranging from stewardship and conservation, predators, beef production and cows to ranch life in Fremont County and the relevancy of agriculture to communities.
Students and guests alike were actively engaged in the presentations, asking questions and expressing their curiosity about Wyoming’s long-standing ranching traditions.
Presenters included LVCW Darlene Vaughn, Timmery Hellyer and Anjie McConnell, as well as Brian DeBolt of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and local veterinarian Jessica Blake.
WCC students were surprised by some of the facts and information they learned at the presentation, and they said Lander is a wonderful community.
Trey Pierre, a WCC student from Nebraska, said, “Even though Nebraska is a farming state, I’m one of the city kids, so I had no clue about any of this. I have a lot to learn.”
“It is interesting to see all the things that are involved in cattle ranching and how integral it is to society,” continued Pierre.
Pierre’s classmate Sam Kirwan, also from Nebraska, said, “It was really interesting to see how friendly all the ranchers are and how much they like ranching. I am very interested in how much work ranching is, yet everyone seems to be very cheerful.”
California students Clayton Lang, Caleb Cervantes and Paul Roundtree also found surprising aspects in Wyoming agriculture.
“I was shocked that one cow eats two tons of hay each season,” said Lang. “That is a lot. I had no idea it takes that much.”
Cervantes echoed Lang’s comments, adding, “It is most shocking to see how much hay costs – $200 to $300 per ton in Texas. I don’t know how big a standard herd is, but if you figure two tons per cow, that is a huge expense.”
He continued, “The expenses in agriculture, like how much tractors cost, was really shocking, as well.”
“I really like the presentation about what ranch life is really like from a woman and a family that does this every day,” said Roundtree. “I just never really thought about what ranch life was like before.”
Though each student comes from a different background and found different pieces of information intriguing, they all gained an increased awareness of Wyoming agriculture.
Frank emphasized, “Ranchers keep up on education, genetics, health and welfare of the animals, agronomy, business economics and banking, as well as stewardship of land to include private, state and federal owned land, legislative issues and legal issues.”
Overall, Frank was adamant that agriculture and ranching isn’t just a “play day” everyday, but rather is a business.
“The CattleWomen’s mission is for the education and promotion of beef. It’s not just the sale and consumption of the product, it’s the whole ball of wax,” said Frank. “What better opportunity do we have than a beautiful day with the wonderful people from the industry?”
Saige Albert is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.