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Nuckolls honored for ag service

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Since the 1950s, Jw and Thea Nuckolls have influenced agriculture in Crook County, across Wyoming, throughout the United States and around the world through their leadership and dedication to the industry. As a result of their continued support, they have been elected for induction into the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame for 2013.

“Jw and Thea Nuckolls have long been associated with agriculture in Crook County and are well respected throughout the region and state for their many and varied contributions,” comments Wyoming Legislator and Crook County rancher Ogden Driskill. 

Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna adds, “Jw has been a long-time leader in the sheep industry at the state and national levels, and Thea has demonstrated comparable leadership in the Wyoming Wool Growers Auxiliary for many years.”


“As a couple, Jw and Thea have traveled many miles across this state and nation in support of the sheep industry,” Magagna says. “The industry is stronger because of their involvement.”

“Together, Jw and Thea represent Wyoming agriculture in the most honest and straightforward way,” Driskill mentions.  “Not only are they hardworking, successful ranchers, they have also given much of their lives to supporting the industry through membership and leadership on various boards.”  

The couple’s dedication has set an example for young people in agriculture, he adds.

Larry Prager, manager of the Center of the Nation Wool, Inc., states, “Jw and Thea have always been a team.  It’s hard to know one without knowing the other.

“My observation is that the Nuckolls leadership style might be described as individual independence but within the strength and expectation of team success.  Jw and Thea have earned the respect and admiration of so many loyal friends along the way.  Their integrity as individuals, their credibility as a couple and their accomplishments as a team serve as an example for us all.” 

When asked about his partner, Jw says, “Thea is both my soulmate and my right arm. She is the glue and heart strings that keep the countless moving parts of this operation organized, well-oiled and in top working order.”

Production agriculture

After graduating from the University of Wyoming in 1955, Jw became interested in the Corriedale sheep breed and purchased a herd from the Sam Amspoker family in Douglas.  That is when he first met Thea.

“We later met again during the Wyoming State Fair in 1958 and were married in 1959,” says Jw.

Thea brought a few head of registered Angus cows to the family when they married, and the couple continued to build their cattle herd.  

Today, the couple focuses on improving their marketing ability by altering practices to hit off-season markets and optimize profitability. Also Jw and Thea have developed a Whitetail deer hunting clientele. 

Leadership involvement

In addition to a strong, diversified operation, the Nuckolls’ have also played an integral role in many state and national organizations and the establishment of cooperatives to assist local ranchers and to promote the marketing of lamb and wool.  Two of those are the Mountain States Lamb Cooperative and the Center of the Nation Wool Cooperative.

Prager recounts, “Jw was one of the charter members of what began in 1960 as Nation’s Center Wool Pool in Alzada, Mont. He was elected as a director in 1962 and then as chairman in 1965.

“Jw’s leadership was the driving force as the Alzada wool pool became Center of the Nation Wool in 1984.  He signed on the original documents, was one of the first to purchase stock and still serves on the Board of Directors.  Jw is nationally recognized as the one who guided the U.S. wool industry to become competitive on the world stage.”

“More specifically, with the tools of genetics and the implementation of wool preparation to meet international standards, the quality of Wyoming’s wool is now recognized around the world,” Prager continues. “Easy words to say, but the impact of moving a domestic industry to the platform of international trading is hard to grasp.”

“The cooperative is the largest in the region, serving 1,700 participants, marketing approximately 5 million pounds of wool each year, resulting in gross sales of nearly $10 million,” says Driskill.

Jw is still active in the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, where he is a regional vice president, the Crook County Predator Board, the Wyoming Wool Growers Association and the Wyoming Farm Bureau.

Wyoming Farm Bureau President Perry Livingston says, “Jw’s service with Farm Bureau began when I was very young.  He has served in many capacities through committee and officer work at local, county, state, and national levels.  He recognized at an early age that a strong voice for American agriculture was the most important thing he as a rancher could do for himself and his fellow farmers and ranchers. It has been my pleasure to serve alongside Jw as he works to further this lifestyle we all love and cherish.”

In addition, Jw has served on many local boards and organizations.

Thea’s activities

Thea’s activity in Wyoming’s agriculture organizations matches her husband’s.

“Thea has made important contributions to Wyoming agriculture, as well,” comments Driskill. “She is a steadfast supporter of the Wyoming 4-H program and served as a club leader for many years.”

Thea is a member and past president of the Wyoming Wool Growers Auxiliary, a district director for the Make It With Wool contest and has served in various positions on the Crook County Farm Bureau. In her spare time, Thea nurtured and trained their five children and held down the fort so Jw could attend all those meetings.  

Worthy inductees

Driskill adds, “Jw and Thea are incredible community leaders, consistently exhibiting honesty and strong work ethic in all they do in their business and personal lives.”

Prager notes, “Time spent, miles traveled and lost sleep remains uncounted for as Jw and Thea Nuckolls worked to improve their community.  The Nuckolls family brings a tradition of involvement, dedication and excellence to the table as they mentor those like me that fall into their footprints.  No call is forgotten, no question is unasked, and no task gets left unattended.  Small steps sometimes but always with a commitment to innovate and improve all of agriculture’s many industries.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

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