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Supporting agriculture Graduate takes long strides for agriculture in Wyoming

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

A member of the governor’s Cabinet who was a four-year varsity letter winner in NCAA Division One swimming is a recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Doug Miyamoto, who earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in rangeland ecology and watershed management in 1996 and 2001, respectively, now works on behalf of producers on Wyoming’s 11,000 farms and ranches as director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA).

“It is without question that Doug Miyamoto has distinguished himself in his professional life and put his degrees to good use,” wrote nominator John Tanaka, associate director of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station. “He exhibits the highest levels of integrity, stature and demonstrated ability.”

Service to Wyoming

Born and raised in Rawlins, Miyamoto is a second-generation Wyoming native. His family came to the state during World War II, having been “relocated” to the Heart Mountain Relocation Center between Cody and Powell.

His grandfather Tom Miyamoto attended the University of Wyoming on baseball and wrestling scholarships. He later served in Governor Ed Herschler’s Cabinet as director of the Wyoming Health Department.

Doug’s father Marty Miyamoto taught biology at Rawlins High School for more than 30 years, and his mother Karen Miyamoto served as a swimming teacher and coach in Rawlins for almost three decades. Like Miyamoto, who was the middle child, his two sisters attended college on swimming scholarships.

His wife Heather, also a UW graduate, is a kindergarten teacher at Saddle Ridge Elementary School in Cheyenne. She has taught five- and six-year-olds for more than 14 years.

Works collaboratively, garners appreciation

Miyamoto first earned the respect of USDA Agricultural Research Service soil scientist and adjunct professor Gerald Schuman, now retired, when Schuman was his thesis adviser.

Schuman says, “Every time I visit with a producer, commodity representative, agency head or agriculture producer group, I hear great things about Doug and his management skills, influence and enthusiasm about Wyoming agriculture and its programs.” 

“Doug is very well liked and has developed outstanding skills that enable him to work successfully with a broad range of people,” continues Schuman. “Whether it’s the stock growers, ranch managers, cultivation farmers, environmental groups or the public, Doug has been successful in working with these varied groups because of his integrity and the trust he has developed.”

Bret Hess, Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) director and UW professor, notes Miyamoto’s engaging style and mastery of complex subject matter, saying, “I have witnessed him provide meaningful testimony to a variety of audiences on subjects ranging from public safety and health to domestic/wild sheep interactions.”

Hess adds, “I have heard him brag about being a UW graduate in personal conversation and when delivering public speeches. He is a strong supporter of many of the college’s programs and events.”

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean’s Advisory Board is one of many boards and commissions on which Miyamoto serves at both state and federal levels.

Students at UW’s ACRES Student Farm appreciate the 2000 GMC Sierra pickup Doug and Heather Miyamoto donated to help them manage their large-scale composting efforts and other farm work.

“Without the truck, we wouldn’t be able to haul our produce to the farmers’ markets or deliver to restaurants in Laramie,” says Betsy Trana, ACRES farm president. “It also gives students experience driving a large truck, which is a pretty important skill for any aspiring farmer.” 

This year, Miyamoto invited the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) to join the Department of Agriculture at state fair in Douglas for a reception to honor the department’s award recipients and celebrate the 125th anniversary of AES.

Gets along, gets things done

As director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, Miyamoto oversees the Wyoming State Fair Park and facilities and ensures agriculture and youth remain at the center of a fun and affordable experience.

During his tenure as deputy director of the Department of Agriculture in 2011-14, he reviewed every aspect of the annual fair and collaborated on a vision to revive the park and reinforce appreciation for Wyoming’s agricultural heritage.

Miyamoto manages an annual budget of almost $20 million and oversees operations that touch the lives and wellbeing of almost every person in the state.

He oversees quality assurance for food, animal feed, fertilizer and fuels sold within the state and inspections for meat plants, grocery stores, restaurants, pools, spas and daycare facilities. In addition, he coordinates weed and pest and predator and rabies control activities with local and federal government and works with constituents to develop policies aimed at keeping Wyoming’s third-largest industry strong and promoting and enhancing natural resources and quality of life.   

From 1999 to 2014, Miyamoto served in multiple capacities with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. He gained familiarity with natural resource and agriculture issues and policies, including Farm Bill legislation, Endangered Species Act reform, Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act issues, renewable energy strategies and regional conservation strategies.

On the other side of issues and policies are always people. Miyamoto has empowered citizens to write their own plans to address water quality impairments. He helped producers reduce agricultural runoff and determine and implement conservation practices to benefit their resource base and profitability.

Before heading the Department of Agriculture, he served as director and CEO of the Wyoming Livestock Board. This governor-appointed board and 120-employee state agency is responsible for protecting livestock interests from disease and theft. Its law enforcement, brand recording and inspection and disease tracing and monitoring components support the economic vigor and marketability of Wyoming’s livestock industry.

Through all his positions, Miyamoto has worked tirelessly to increase public awareness of the importance of agriculture, says Tanaka.

Professor Emeritus in ecosystem science and management Michael Smith has known Miyamoto since he was a student in his range soils undergraduate class. 

“I am pleased to add my support,” says Smith. “That he has accomplished this in a relatively few years is a testament to his ability to get along with people and get things done. He will continue to be an asset to Wyoming.”

This article is courtesy of the University of Wyoming.

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