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Donation bolsters WSGLT to help young farmers and ranchers

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

When Georgene Hager LeBar passed in 2009, her family liquidated a portion of her assets and made charitable investments to several Wyoming non-profits. Among the beneficiaries of the investments was the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust (WSGLT), which received a $1.5 million donation that they will put to work developing their Ranchland Succession Program.  

“Georgene believed in helping people help themselves,” says Dylan Hager, LeBar’s nephew.

Hager and his wife Erin are overseeing the contributions made from the Georgene Hager Family Fund and directing the investments to causes they know Georgene would have supported. 

“She provided Dylan with the foundation he needed to continue ranching,” says Erin. “We want to provide a similar opportunity to other young producers and hope to use the Ranchland Succession Program as the vehicle for that opportunity.”

The donation from the Georgene Hager Family Fund is the largest single private donation the WSGLT has received to date, and, in keeping with Georgene’s life philosophy, the money will be used to help young and beginning ranchers help themselves. 

Ranchland Succession Program

“Through Georgene’s hard work, foresight and generosity, our mission to facilitate the transfer of Wyoming farms and ranches to the next generation just earned a hand up,” says Mantha Phillips, chair of the WSGLT Ranchland Succession Program Committee.

“The Ranchland Succession Program is a brand new program within our Land Trust to help us build on our conservation work which prioritizes keeping agricultural lands available for future generations of producers,” comments Phillips. “With this gift from Georgene, we can establish more avenues to help young people get into the business.”

After a large donation from Encana Oil and Gas several years ago, Phillips explains that the WSGLT did a feasibility study to look at establishing a program to help young farmers and ranchers and found several avenues to expand opportunities currently available.  Though the program is in its infancy, Phillips adds that the WSGLT hopes to make great strides this year in putting the program together.

In building the program, Phillips notes that the Hager-LeBar donation will allow the WSGLT to meet with allied professionals from around the state, especially estate attorneys, accountants and others, who advise landowners on their estate plans and philanthropy decisions and who may want to give gifts but are unsure of where to donate funds or properties.

“With Georgene, her nephew knew that she wanted the money to help young people in ag, but they didn’t know anything about the WSGLT or our interest in helping to facilitate the next generation of ranch landowners where we can,” says Phillips. “As a top priority, we are going to go out and spend some time getting the word out on the street to have the opportunity to increase the resources available to this important program.”

“The Land Trust will work with a number of organizations developing and utilizing new tools ranging from traditional agricultural loans to special programs for young and beginning producers,” says WSGLT Executive Director Pam Dewell. “Conservation easements, mitigation funds and conservation leases will be used to raise capital and/or reduce fair market value, resulting in a package that is mutually beneficial for both retiring ranchers and up and coming ranch families.”

Dewell says the WSGLT plans to have program guidelines and an application process in place for the Ranchland Succession Program by the end of the calendar year.

Phillips adds, “We are very grateful to Georgene, her nephew Dylan and his wife Erin, along with Georgene’s accountant and long-time friend Dave Kreycik for their efforts to sustain ranching in Wyoming.”

Georgene Hager LeBar

Georgene Hager LeBar was born Sept. 14, 1940 in Scottsbluff, Neb., the daughter of Eugene Emmet and Wyoma Yorica (Nichols) Hager. She was raised seven miles east and three miles south of Torrington at Little Moon Lake Ranch, which her family homesteaded in 1890.

Reared and educated in the Torrington area, LeBar graduated from Chadron State Teachers College. The Hager family started the Little Moon Lake Supper Club, which was a hot spot for recreation during the 1950s. This is where LeBar met her husband George N. LeBar. George offered LeBar a job on his ranch near Douglas, and they married in 1974. The couple ranched together for many years, raising cattle and sheep. Following George’s death, LeBar continued the successful cow-calf and yearling operation for 20 years.

Border collie dogs were an important part of LeBar’s ranch and life. She hosted some of the nation’s top stock dog handlers at the annual Stock Dog Trial held at the ranch. She was a member of the United States Border Collie Handlers Association and the Wyoming Stock Dog Association.

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