Wyoming continues efforts to support ranchers impacted by Atlas
Across Wyoming, Atlas relief efforts continue. From individual producers to group efforts, citizens have reached out to neighbors in eastern Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota and Nebraska to help them through this time.
Efforts have been widespread and included benefit dinners and auctions, donations of cattle and fund raising.
The Johnson County CattleWomen held a benefit auction and dinner on Nov. 16 and raised $26,000.
Converse County ranchers have donated 2013 heifer calves, first calf heifers, young cows and cow/calf pairs to be sent to South Dakota to replenish herds.
“The load of cattle left Converse County’s Duncan Ranch south of Glenrock on Nov. 21,” said Converse County Rancher Rick Grant. “The truck stopped in Gillette to complete the load before heading to South Dakota.”
Wyoming FFA members also took the chance to collect “Change for South Dakota” to raise money to send to the Rancher’s Relief Fund. The organization wrote a check for just over $21,000 for agricultural relief efforts.
“We wanted to do something that would help the members of the South Dakota FFA Association because we all knew that some of the animals that were hurt or killed in the storm were some of the FFA members supervised agriculture experience projects,” said Wyoming FFA State Treasurer Aleesha Gladson.
“Wyoming’s FFA members showed the true meaning of living to serve with their contribution to the ‘Change for South Dakota’ project,” said Wyoming State FFA Advisor Stacy Broda. “As we watched our agricultural family in South Dakota endure this storm and its aftermath, the pictures and stories educated our students first-hand about the hardships that often happen in our industry.”
In particular, Meeteetse FFA member Levi Gitlitz took fundraising efforts above and beyond.
After Meeteetse agriculture education instructor and FFA Advisor Louis Abarr showed a video depicting the devastation of blizzard Atlas, Gitlitz decided he really wanted to help.
“As a chapter, we made change cans and distributed them around town to local businesses, but for Levi, the devastation really hit home, and he wanted to do more,” said Abarr.
Abarr explained that Gitlitz doesn’t come from a large ranching family, but rather, he has been impacted by the generosity of his friends and neighbors.
“Levi is a freshman this year, and he’s a genuinely good-hearted person,” says Abarr. “He told me, ‘I’ve had tons of help in my life, and I know what it feels like to get some help, so I wanted to help these people this time.’”
At the time, Gitlitz was preparing to sell his calves at Riverton Livestock Auction, so Abarr contacted the sale barn and helped organize a rollover auction to benefit the Rancher’s Relief Fund.
“Initially, Levi was going to donate any money over $500 raised from selling the calf,” Abarr noted, “but he decided to donate all the proceeds from the auction.”
After selling 14 times, Gitlitz donated $8,600 to the Rancher’s Relief Fund.
Sending money out
At the same time that the Rancher’s Relief Fund has received over $1 million in donations, they are looking to distribute funds as soon as possible to families in need.
To apply or nominate someone for funding from the Rancher’s Relief effort, visit ranchersrelief.org. Nominations are requested by Dec. 31.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.