Hardy recognized for sheep industry accomplishments
Gene Hardy is no stranger to the agriculture industry. The rancher runs sheep and cattle in northern Converse County, continuing the traditions of his family.
“When my dad first came to this country in about 1915, he wasn’t old enough to take a homestead,” comments Hardy, who notes that the current ranch headquarters were established after his parents were married in 1927. “My dad and his brother homesteaded this area in the spring of 1920. That got them established and going, and that’s the way my family wound up in this area.”
The operation has run both cattle and sheep since the mid-1930s off and on, Hardy explains. During World War II, when help was tight, Hardy explains that the family sold their sheep, continuing to run sheep again in 1965.
“My wife Joy and I later went back into sheep in 1965, and we’ve run both ever since,” he comments.
The third generation rancher runs a large herd of Rambouillet ewes, and they don’t use herders or dogs.
“I believe this county is best suited to a good, sturdy, white-faced breed of sheep, and in our case, we have gone strictly Rambouillet,” Hardy explains.
Utilizing both cattle and sheep can be done with intensive management, but Hardy notes that overgrazing can happen easily, saying, “You have to have good management.”
In managing the sheep operation, predator control is very important, and with the loss of some important tools, it is becoming increasingly difficult.
“Some situations have created public opinion that’s not conducive to predator management, and we have to cope with that the best we can,” Hardy explains.
Hardy continually works to develop his herd and the genetics of the Wyoming sheep industry.
“From the sheep industry perspective, Gene has been as innovative, if not more innovative, than a lot of sheep producers,” comments Wyoming Wool Growers Association Executive Vice President Bryce Reece, noting that Hardy is forward thinking and willing to try new things to continually improve production.
Reece adds, “Gene has not scrimped in terms of obtaining superior genetics, and he has supported the industry. Gene has always bought the best, and it shows in the quality of his livestock.”
“He has been in the front of everything for a long time,” he says.
Hardy’s involvement in Wyoming’s agriculture industry extends beyond his own operation, and he has taken an active role in a number of state organizations.
“As long as I have know Gene, he has been active, involved and has contributed to the industry,” comments Converse County rancher Frank Moore. “Gene is definitely deserving of this award.”
“He’s been on the Wyoming Livestock Board, the Board of Agriculture, and he’s served on the boards for the Wyoming Wool Growers Association and the Wyoming Stock Growers Association,” comments Reece. “If someone needs him, Gene has never not answered the call.”
Currently, Hardy is the president of the State Predatory Animal Board, Wyoming Association of County Predatory Animal Boards and the past president of the Wyoming Wool Growers Association. In addition, he holds the position of secretary on the Converse County Predator Board. He serves on the Animal Damage Management Board and was also appointed chairman of the American Sheep Industry Association’s Predator Management Committee recently.
“Gene has given freely and with great enthusiasm both his time and his money to those organizations he believes in,” notes Reece. “He has never refused to offer support or serve, and has long been held in great esteem by not only the Wyoming Wool Growers Association, but also many other ag groups in Wyoming.”
“We need a lot more Gene Hardys in this world,” Reece says.
Each year, readers of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup nominate members of the agriculture industry that have gone above and beyond serving the ag industry. Three judges review the nominations and rank individuals based on their contributions to agriculture. At the end of the day, the highest scores receive the honor of being inducted into the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame.
Sublette County Commissioner Joel Bousman joins Hardy in the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame this year. Bousman and Hardy will be recognized at the Wyoming Livestock Roundup annual Agriculture Hall of Fame Picnic on Aug. 15, where they will be presented with a belt buckle and commemorative poster. The picnic is held at Riverside Park in Douglas beginning at 5:30 p.m. – WYLR