UW starts hands-on sale class
Laramie – With students searching for options to develop hands-on skills in their coursework, the University of Wyoming has responded by developing a new course that allows students to put on a bred heifer sale.
With changes to the UW breeding programs and student interest, the course was developed in Spring 2012.
“Our goal is to showcase UW cattle and bring some producer notice to what we are doing here at the university,” says Allison Meyer, one of three faculty members who teach the course.
“We especially wanted to give students the opportunity to have the hands-on experience of helping to organize a production sale while also allowing them to meet important people in the beef industry in Wyoming,” she adds.
In the course, 14 undergraduate students and one graduate student were placed in six different groups, all related to hosting a sale and Cattlemen’s Day.
Along with Meyer, UW Extension Beef Specialist Scott Lake, UW Associate Professor in Animal Science Paul Ludden and UW Beef Unit Manager Travis Smith are involved in teaching the class.
The six groups include sale management, cattle, facilities, sale catalog, advertising and hospitality and Cattlemen’s Day, each of which in integral in developing the sale.
“We meet once or twice a week to bring everyone together and figure out what we need to do next,” says Meyer, noting that her background in purebred cattle helps her to answer questions. “Scott Lake is dealing with producer consigners and industry contacts, and Travis is overseeing the heifers and facilities.”
She adds that students are an integral part in each aspect of the sale.
“We do a bunch of different things in class, but coming together to figure out where we are in getting the sale together is a big part of it,” says Cameron Irons, a UW senior in Animal Science who is taking the course.
Irons also says, “Getting the word out is the most difficult part – that is our biggest focus right now.”
“I think because we are the first class to go through, we are doing some experimenting. None of us, as students, really know exactly what to do,” she says.
The course instructors’ extensive sale experience, however, is helpful.
“It has been great to see how well students have responded to this class,” Lake says.
“They have really worked hard, and I think they have gained a tremendous appreciation for the hard work required to put together a production sale, he continues. “This group of students has really laid the foundation for future classes and an event that hopefully becomes a tradition. We really hope we get a good turn out to help support the program.”
To further add to the sale, a Cattlemen’s Day with be held on the morning of sale day.
“During the viewing time from 10 a.m. to noon, we will have a Cattlemen’s Day,” comments Meyer. “We have our sponsor booths, as well as a few graduate students and people from the department to give educational demonstrations.”
“The Cattlemen’s Day will also have a tour of the facilities,” comments Irons, also mentioning that the time to preview cattle will be available.
A free lunch will also be provided at noon between the Cattlemen’s Day and the heifer sale, and everyone is invited.
“We would like to make it a two semester class, with one semester as a leadership component,” explains Meyer. “The leadership component would feature tours, speakers and leadership development activities in the beef industry.”
She adds that, thus far, the class has worked to build confidence in the students’ abilities.
After the sale is complete, Meyer says students will be asked to review the event and make comments on what went well and what can be improved. They will also receive credit for a final report on the components of the sale they were responsible for.
Preparing for a sale
“In addition to UW heifers selling, we have six consignors from Wyoming,” says Irons.
There will be a total of about 60 high-quality bred heifers sold at the sale, with about 45 from some of the top producer in the region.
“The bred heifer market is not quite as good as it was this time last year, but it is still holding pretty strong,” says Lake.
“Feed costs this year makes things difficult, but I think there is still a lot of optimism about future cattle prices, and this sale is a great opportunity to purchase some quality replacement females,” Lake continues.
Meyer also says that they are prepared and optimistic about the event, hoping that they see lots of buyers turn out, as students have worked hard to prepare.
“Things have gone really well,” she adds. “This is the first year, so it will be the hardest, but we think everything is on track for the sale.”
The UW Bred Heifer Sale will be held on Oct. 13 at 1 p.m. in the Hansen Arena in Laramie. For more information, contact Scott Lake at 307-766-3892 or Travis Smith at 307-399-7674.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.