Heald gives back to youth
Gillette – Starting at a young age, Bobbi Jo Heald was introduced to life on the ranch. She was born and raised on a cow/calf operation about 42 miles northeast of Gillette. Growing up around a herd of Angus cattle and her small flock of market sheep, Heald credits her upbringing for her love of agriculture.
“I owe a lot of my desire to be in agriculture to my parents and ag teachers Jock Ward and Dwayne Anderson, as well as Mel Lynch with 4-H Extension,” Heald says.
At eight years old, she began showing steers and horses in 4-H and, in high school, was a member of Gillette FFA. She mentions working with and raising livestock as her favorite parts of the industry. Heald is no longer involved on the ranch she grew up on.
“My mentors all taught me a great deal about agriculture but, more importantly, how to help others learn and enjoy livestock and agriculture,” she states.
Heald has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture business and business administration with a minor in business. She went to Casper College for two years and received her associate’s degree in agriculture business, then went to Chadron State College for her bachelor’s degrees.
Currently, Heald serves as Campbell County Fair coordinator, a position she started after long-time coordinator Betty Hough retired.
As fair coordinator, she manages the Campbell County Fair Board (CCFB). Year-round, Heald works with CCFB to plan and organize the fair. In the fall, the next year’s fair schedule in planned out, says Heald. Reviews are conducted, and entertainment are also booked in the fall for the next year, she adds.
“I have summer employees who really help me get ready for fair every year,” Heald states.
In January, Heald says judge’s contracts are created for big livestock shows, and then, judges are contacted.
“Basically, getting the fair ready is a step-by-step process. CCFB and I also work on putting together the budgets, youth livestock sale and youth awards,” she adds.
Heald believes youth are the most important part of the fair, so sending donor letters to get money for youth prizes is just part of the job.
She continues, “I love the fair, and it’s in my blood. I like planning and organizing events for the youth.”
Starting in 1986, Heald trained under Earl Boller then took over as sheep superintendent for Campbell County in 1987. She stepped down as sheep superintendent after accepting her current job in 2012.
Heald is also involved in other aspects of the fair, as well.
“Throughout the year, I also announce team ropings, barrel races, high school rodeos and ranch sortings,” she notes, adding the people and events are what she enjoys most about announcing.
“I used to push cattle into the roping chute. One summer the announcer was sick, so I was moved into the crow’s nest to announce,” Heald states, reminiscing on her start as an announcer.
More recently, Heald retired as Youth Sheep Superintendent for the Wyoming State Fair after 13 years of service.
Barney Cosner, current member of the Wyoming State Fair Advisory Board and 2003 Wyoming State Fair Director, was judging a sheep show in Campbell County and asked Heald to help him at State Fair, notes Heald, because State Fair was short a superintendent for the Open Class Sheep show. She was moved to Youth Sheep Superintendent shortly after.
“I enjoyed being with the kids, organizing and putting things together so the shows run efficiently and smoothly,” she says.
As a superintendent, Heald would attend State Fair Advisory Board meetings relevant to her position. She was also required to submit a State Fair report to recommend any changes that should be made to show rules and other suggestions for the event.
“I did it for the kids. Being superintendent kept me involved and close to the animals and kids. I had a good time,” Heald states.
For young women in the agriculture industry, Heald recommends making the most out of every opportunity and enjoying each job for what it has to offer until the right opportunity comes along.
“I wasn’t always in a job that dealt with my degree and, sometimes, we have to do what we have to do until the right doors open up,” Heald claims.
“I am very fortunate that my job uses everything I went to school for and is one I love. I couldn’t ask for better,” she says.
Heald considers herself just another person trying to improve the local fair every year with help from the Fair Board and County Commissioners.
“We all have a strong fair background and are very devoted to the youth of our county. We want to make each and every fair a memorable one,” Heald comments.
Heald stays involved with the agriculture industry because she loves her job and wants to give youth today what she was fortunate enough to receive and learn in the past.
“The way I was raised and all the people who were a part of my education and training have helped make me the person I am today,” Heald concludes.
Heather Loraas is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org