Conservation work yields rewards
Cheyenne – Cathy Rosenthal has always held agriculture and conservation in her heart, and today, she has harnessed that passion through her position as watershed coordinator with the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts (WACD).
Her work has been extremely rewarding, both personally and in the form of recognition by WACD.
“I grew up on a farm outside of Riverton,” says Rosenthal. “We raised alfalfa, and I showed sheep and did a variety of 4-H projects. Ag was a big part of my background, and it has been in my family – on both sides – for generations.”
Her upbringing and passion for agriculture transferred into her education.
Rosenthal went to college and focused on conservation and agriculture from the beginning.
“I stayed in Riverton and went to Central Wyoming College after high school, where I got my Associate’s Degree in range management and biology,” she explains. “Then, I went to the University of Wyoming.”
At UW, Rosenthal graduated with a bachelor’s degree in geography, noting that the opportunity to study land resources and management was exciting and interesting.
“I went through the physical geography program and got involved in mapping,” she says. “After I graduated, I moved to Sheridan where I got a job with a consulting firm to do mapping, vegetation studies and wetlands work.”
Rosenthal continues, “After six years in Sheridan, this position opened with the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts. It involved a lot of mapping and water and natural resources work. The job appealed to me for many reasons and seemed like a good fit due to my background and upbringing in agriculture, education and previous work experiences in natural resources.”
After applying and accepting the job, Rosenthal has really enjoyed the experience.
“It has been awesome to work with WACD and all the conservation districts around the state,” she comments.
Through her involvement with landowners and conservation districts, as well as in steering committees, Rosenthal has helped Wyomingites make positive changes in their operations to improve land and water quality.
“It has been such a rewarding experience,” she comments. “I’ve really enjoyed the work I’ve been able to do in conservation.”
On starting at the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts, Rosenthal notes that her predecessors were all very successful men who provided “big shoes to fill,” she says.
“When I transitioned to this position just over five years ago, it was intimidating,” Rosenthal comments. “It was a big learning curve at first, but then I got to know the people and understand the work.”
She comments that the challenges she has faced were overcome as she gained confidence and began to prove herself in the industry.
“I felt like I had to prove that I am dedicated, and I didn’t want to let people down,” she explains. “It was a challenge. At first, it seemed like it might be bigger than I was going to be able to accomplish, but it wasn’t.”
Rosenthal also encourages young women interested in conservation and agriculture to not be afraid of the potential for challenges.
“If something seems intimidating or out of their comfort zone, they should just try and build on what they are good at. That is the biggest thing.”
Rosenthal added that with work ethic, confidence and ability, goals can be easily accomplished.
Rosenthal says, “My career has been really rewarding.”
“I really enjoy seeing how everything fits together,” she explains. “I’ve worked with WACD, the districts and different people who have asked for maps to help with different issues. It’s been really beneficial to be able to pull things together visually to help people make decisions.”
“I enjoy giving back and helping in whatever way I can to address conservation and agriculture issues.” Rosenthal notes.
Rosenthal was also recognized for her work this year at the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts Annual Convention, where she received the 2014 Presidential Award.
The award is given to an individual “for outstanding contributions to the mission of the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts and the local conservation districts.”
“I am extremely honored and humbled to get this award,” Rosenthal comments. “Working for the people I do makes my job easier. I enjoy coming to work every day, and because of that, I am able to do more.”
A look forward
As she looks into the future and her career, Rosenthal notes that she loves Wyoming and wants to stay involved in the conservation and agriculture business, but she adds, “We are starting a family in March, so my husband and I are going to take on that adventure soon.”
“I hope to raise our family in Wyoming and stay here as long as we can,” she comments. “I hope to continue in the conservation business and keep working with landowners and conservation districts across the state.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.