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Recognizing Producers: Fremont County announces ag awards

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Riverton – Over 220 people from Fremont County gathered to celebrate the achievements of their fellow farmers, ranchers and agribusiness associates during the 48th Annual Ag Appreciation Banquet, held in Riverton on May 18. 

“This event originally started as the harvest banquet in the fall,” commented Riverton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim Davis. “It was a group of farmers who got together and put in on.”

Davis added that today, though the Riverton Chamber of Commerce hosts the event and a variety of ag businesses sponsors, it still serves as a chance for the ag community to gather and celebrate.

For ag, by ag

“The committee evolved from a group of farmers to include business people,” Davis continued. “At some point, the Chamber got involved.”

Today, the Chamber of Commerce and a committee of business people organize the banquet. This year’s committee included Matt Vredenburg of First Interstate Bank, Ron Cunningham of the Fremont County Extension Office, Barney Cosner of the Fremont County Fair and Rodeo, Taylor Engum of Wyoming Ag Marketing, Veterinarian Jim Logan, Trevor Bekken of Brown Co., Scott Pettit of Wyoming National Bank, Ron Fossen of Wells Fargo Bank, Betsy Milek and Riverton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim Davis, Shannon Christensen of the Visitor Center and Support Staff member Jennifer Childers.

“Committee members go out and sell tickets to businesses that are ag-oriented,” explained Davis. “They give the tickets to their customers as an appreciation gift.”

The group also takes nominations for six awards: Ag Man of the Year, Ag Woman of the Year, Ag Business of the Year, Young Ag Person of the Year, Ag Special Service of the Year and the Fair Board’s Volunteer of the Year. 

“We take nominations for these categories, and the committee decides who the award goes to,” said Davis. “The person who nominates the winner presents the awards.”

Award winners are kept secret until the banquet, so winners don’t know they won until the event.

Ag Man and Ag Woman

The awards for Ag Man and Ag Woman of the Year have been presented since 1972.

This year, the Ag Man of the Year was awarded to Rich Pingetzer. Pingetzer was nominated by Gene Jordan. 

Pingetzer is a major supporter of the ag community in Fremont County, participating in the Fremont County Cattlemen’s Association and staying involved with youth education.

Jordan noted Pingetzer’s involvement with Shoshoni High School students in teaching them about the reality of agriculture. 

“This man was lucky in the fact that he knew what he wanted to do at an early age,” said Jordan. “He is very fortunate in having it all figured out at before he went to college.”

“Over the years, he’s served the community – not just his neighbors and friends – but his community,” added Jordan.

On the award, Pingetzer commented, “Back in high school we learned, ‘I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words, but of deeds.’”

Gerry Dewey, who presented the Ag Woman of the Year award, said, “This year’s agricultural woman of the year is a lady who has been active in Fremont County’s cattle ranching industry for some 74 years.”

Dewey continued, “She is a warm and wonderful person – the epitome of a Wyoming ranch lady. It is my pleasure to present the ag woman of the year to Violett Woolery.”

Woolery has been active in every aspect of the family ranch since she was a child and still carries on the tradition today. 

“She goes quietly about doing what is necessary without fanfare, expecting no particular recognition for getting the job done,” added Dewey. 

Ag business

Since 1993, the group has also recognized the Ag Business of the Year, recognizing Jake Hall and his veterinary practice in 2013.

“He opened High Country Vet Services after receiving his doctorate of veterinary medicine degree,” commented award nominator Ron Cunningham. “He is the resident vet at the Riverton Livestock Auction and is the current president-elect of the Wyoming Veterinary Medicine Association.”

Hall also performs vet inspections at the county fair.

Young ag

Doug Thompson presented another relatively new award, the Young Ag Person of the Year, to Thad Dockery. 

Dockery has been involved in the ranching since his youth, working on the family ranch in Hot Springs County, breaking horses for neighbors and building his own cow herd.

Dockery’s involvement in the Wyoming Farm Bureau, Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Fremont County Natural Resources Planning Committee, Fremont County Predator Board and a number of other organizations and committees has helped to earn him the award.

“He works hard, but always has the time to help a neighbor in need,” said Thompson.

Ag service and volunteers

Honored for their ag service, Betsy Milek nominated and presented the Ag Special Service of the Year award to the Fremont County Brand Inspectors Angie Leonardi, Harley Big Knife, Butch Burdick, Walt Geis, Jess Gordon, Ryan Wagner, Dave Hollings and Jack Corbett.

“Despite putting in grueling hours on the road, fighting the weather and inspecting animals, these individuals will be there to help neighbors, friends and family with brandings, moving animals and anything else that comes up,” said Milek. “This is in addition to running their own operations.”

Milek noted that brand inspectors put in hard work making sure livestock comply with state laws for both identification and movement – a job that is not easy.

Barney Cosner presented the final award on behalf of the Fremont County Fair Board to Susan Brody.

“It is the intent of the Fair Board’s Volunteer of the Year award to recognize those individuals who put in countless hours of support for the Fremont County Fair,” said Cosner, noting that volunteers receive no compensation for their time or contributions. “This year, the Fremont County Fair Board would like to thank and congratulate Susan Brody on her efforts on behalf of the Junior Livestock Sale Board and the efforts she goes to making the fair a success.”

For a complete list of award winners from past years, contact the Riverton Chamber of Commerce. Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

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