Hot Springs County showcases ag
Thermopolis – On May 13, Hot Springs County’s Pioneer Association hosted Wooly Bully Daze and the Hot Springs County Ag Expo to provide an opportunity for students to learn about the agriculture industry that provides a backbone for the county’s economy.
“We had a good time at this event,” says Ray Shaffer, one of the organizing members of the event. “This was our inaugural year, so we’re just getting our feet wet. It was a good project.”
Over 150 students and teachers from the third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades at Ralph Witter Elementary and Thermopolis Middle School attended the event, and Ray Shaffer, says, “Students got a hands-on approach to learn current practices, as well as to observe the practices of bygone days. Students had the chance to learn, handle and participate in agricultural practices and histories in Wyoming.”
Ten different stations were available during the event, each of which depicted a different part of agriculture and its facets.
Wooly Bully Daze and the Hot Springs County Ag Expo are sponsored by Hot Springs County Farm Bureau.
Shaffer, who is also a member of Hot Springs County Farm Bureau, notes that this year is the inaugural year for the event that began when the Pioneer Association was working on a writing program with schools.
“The topic came up that we would like to do a historical program on the sheep industry,” he says. “Chase Taylor, the young lady who is in charge of the event, had experience from a similar expo that her dad did in Fremont County. With help from him, we started Wooly Bully Daze.”
Wooly Bully Daze hosted elementary school students to learn about the sheep industry, but with growing interest from middle school students, Shaffer says they added the Hot Springs County Ag Expo to the day.
“This is good for our community and our students in a lot of different avenues,” Shaffer comments.
Inside the Expo
Wooly Bully Daze started with a focus on the sheep industry, but now they encompass all facets of agriculture in the area. Ten sessions focused on a variety of pieces of the sheep and ag industry.
“We talked about the sheep industry and everything involved in raising sheep,” Shaffer says. “We also have UW Extension and our local 4-H educator involved, and we use information from Wyoming Ag in the Classroom.”
A variety of livestock species are included in the day, and students had the chance to track wool from the time it a sheep is shorn until the wool is woven into cloth.
A student presented her swine project, and a history lesson on the sheep and wool industry was provided. Old farm machinery was displayed, as well, including a corn sheller, grain grinder and water pump powered by old-time engines.
Students were exposed to livestock transport through the display of a cattle pot and stock trailer, and a sheep wagon was provided for hands-on experience to “Home on the Range” living.
“The kids were really enthusiastic about the whole day,” Shaffer says.
Benefits for all
Wooly Bully Daze and the Ag Expo bring a number of people from Hot Springs County together, which Shaffer says is beneficial to students, educators and community members.
“We involve a lot of different people in the community and brings schools together,” he explains. “We had a hundred kids come down and spend a whole morning at the fairgrounds.”
Shaffer also notes that some discussions were had about expanding the event to make it a community-wide activity, offering sessions for youth and adults, alike, though they don’t want to jump into a big program like that yet.
“We’d like to do this next year, but we need someone young and enthusiastic to help us out,” he says. “It’s a great project.”
“The kids have the chance to learn an appreciation for agriculture at this event,” Shaffer comments. “If we educate these students when they’re young, we hope that it will stick with them.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.