Womack supports Wyo FFA
Osage – Jennifer Womack feels a special connection to FFA and says she was fortunate to have an extended involvement in the program in her youth.
“I joined FFA as a seventh grader,” says Womack. “I attended Sundance High School, and being a small school, we essentially started high school as seventh graders. I had the opportunity to be an FFA member for six years.”
Womack took her experience as an FFA member and has used what she learned to inspire her career.
As an FFA member
“I went to my first Wyoming State FFA Convention as a seventh grader in Cody,” continues Womack. “As a young person, I had never experienced anything like that.”
She attended every convention for the next seven years.
“Mr. Dick Hubbard, my ag teacher, opened many doors of opportunity for me over the years,” says Womack. “He passed away late October, and I attended his services just one day before boarding a plane to the 2013 National FFA Convention. At his services there were many of us who graduated from his program and are enjoying the lifelong benefits of his teachings. He spent 42 years teaching in a community of a little over 1,000 and through that work managed to make an impact all across the country as his students went out into the world.”
Womack says that her supervised agriculture experience (SAE) also inspired her college degree.
“I attended the University of Wyoming and studied in an area related to my SAE,” she explains. “I studied agroecology with an emphasis in entomology, and when I found an interest in communication, I picked up a second degree in ag communications.”
After graduating Womack says she quickly transitioned into a career at the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, where she worked for 10 years.
Back to FFA
“I didn’t maintain a lot of FFA involvement during college,” says Womack, mentioning that she did attend a couple state FFA conventions representing the UW College of Agriculture as an ag ambassador. “After I worked for the for the Roundup for a while, I received an invitation to join the Wyoming FFA Foundation as a board member.”
During her time as a board member, Womack notes that the FFA Foundation decided to start the Wyoming FFA Times, a quarterly newspaper that provides a venue to share the message of the Foundation and highlight projects being done by FFA members around the state.
In 2009 Womack expressed an interest in carrying out work on behalf of the Wyoming FFA Foundation and approached the Foundation Board of Directors with an offer to provide services.
Womack worked for the Foundation for a year from her home in Douglas before she and her family moved to Osage.
“The Wyoming FFA Foundation operates under the mission ‘to support the Wyoming FFA and ensure the program’s ability to continue making a positive difference in students’ lives by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education,’” says Womack.
“In my role as Foundation director, we’re in charge of doing all we can to maximize the opportunities available to young people through agricultural education and the Wyoming FFA,” she continues. “We accomplish that in a variety of ways. While many Foundation solely exist to raise funds, we also carry out several programs and events like the upcoming tour and hosting the career fair at the Wyoming FFA Convention.”
The Foundation’s most fundamental program is their voucher fund, which provides funds for FFA members who are unable to afford an FFA jacket.
“It is our belief that every FFA member should have their own jacket embroidered with their own name, chapter name and top pins marking their performance in the program,” explains Womack.
Additionally, the Wyoming FFA Foundation supports those FFA chapters who qualify to compete at the National FFA Convention at the end of every October.
“With support from generous donors we contribute to the travel expenses for the dozen or so teams who travel to the National FFA Convention to compete on behalf of our state,” she says. “We also make funds available for classroom infrastructure and community service projects carried out by Wyoming FFA chapters.”
For example, Womack says the Foundation has purchased equipment such as a miter saw for a chapter using outdated equipment, welding helmets, powder coating systems, GPS units, classroom and laboratory equipment, greenhouse facilities and equipment for livestock handling facilities. “We’ve even bought some sheep for Kaycee’s school farm,” she says.
“We believe that the presence of those tools in the classroom can help our young people master career skills and explore different fields to help them solidify plans for their future,” she explains.
Opportunities for youth
“For the last three to four years, the FFA Foundation has grown, and that is really exciting for us because growth in the Foundation equates to growth in our ability to have a positive influence on Wyoming’s young people,” Womack says.
She emphasizes that world population growth provides incredible opportunities for students.
“We are entering a time in Wyoming and American agriculture where opportunities are extremely abundant – and that is not to make light of the challenges the industry faces,” Womack says. “What we do as an industry is extremely important, and I think the American public is starting to realize that.”
“We are doing great things to get young people ready for those careers to be able to meet the challenges that lie ahead for agriculture and our country as a whole,” she continues. “We believe the young people coming out of the FFA program are up to the challenge.”
Aside from her work with the Wyoming FFA Foundation, Womack also works on her family’s cow/calf ranch outside of Newcastle with her husband Chris and their sons Bryce, 15, and Joshua, 9.
“When we decided to move back here, it was because agriculture is a lifestyle we love and a lifestyle we wanted for our family,” says Womack. “We owe my parents a big thank you for all they’ve made possible. They laid the foundation for what we’re doing and invest a great deal in ensuring our success. I hope we can work hard, make smart decisions and do the same for our sons. We’re also very appreciative of my sister and brother-in-law, Matt and Erin Pzinski, who frequently help with the boys when schedules get hectic.”
The positive impact that agriculture has on her children is important to Womack, who notes that the lifestyle offers opportunities and experiences not found elsewhere.
She is regularly involved in the activities on the ranch, all while running Sagebrush Marketing.
“I operate Sagebrush Marketing from the ranch,” she adds. “We have designed our lives to do everything we love to do.”
Sagebrush Marketing, says Womack, is involved in a variety of marketing activities for a variety of customers.
“We do the marketing for the Converse County Tourism Board and the events, marketing and fundraising for the Wyoming FFA Foundation, for example,” she explains. “We are a full service marketing and graphic design company that tailor-fits our services to meet our clients’ needs.”
Womack also marks that Tracy Alger works for Sagebrush Marketing and is an integral part of the team.
“Tracy does an outstanding job on our graphic design and she’s willing to pitch in on just about every project we tackle. She’s been an outstanding partner in reaching our goals with Sagebrush Marketing,” Womack notes. “I admire her passion for young people and agriculture. She frequently volunteers her time to events that spread agricultural knowledge. She’s also created many posters and publicity items for events that benefit agriculture or people within the industry in need of a little boost.”
At the end of the day, Womack is involved in a number of ag activities and continues to be an integral part of Wyoming’s agriculture industry, starting with the youth who will serve as the next generation of ag leaders in the nation.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.