Wyoming Hay and Forage Association continues to grow under new director
In February of 2016, the Wyoming Hay and Forage Association (WHFA) launched with the goals of promoting Wyoming’s high-quality hay and forage, establishing a networking opportunity for hay and forage producers in the state and creating opportunities for continued education about forage production.
In January 2019, with a membership of nearly 30 producers and growing, a new executive director, Toby Skinner, took over the leadership of the association, following Scott Keith, who left to pursue opportunities in another career.
“I joined the Board of Directors for WHFA in 2018,” Skinner says, noting he took over for a friend who was looking to exit the board. “Then, Scott was promoted, and he asked me if I’d be interested in taking over his position. I started in January as executive director.”
Skinner was raised on a large ranch north of Fort Laramie. The family sold the ranch in 1999 and purchased a hay farm that they currently own today.
“I also worked for Brown Company and Frontier Equipment. Then, I partnered with Cheyenne Kubota and worked with him for a while,” Skinner explains. “When the opportunity to take over and be more involved in the family farm came up, I came back home.”
Skinner’s management experience poises him well to move the organization forward and enhance the ability of WHFA to positively impact its membership and the hay and forage industry in Wyoming.
As his first goals as director, Skinner says his primary task is to increase sponsorship and membership levels.
“We want to bring more people in and get the word out that Wyoming has a hay and forage association,” he describes.
“A lot of people don’t know what we do,” Skinner continues. “We want to explain this isn’t just a play to sell hay. It is a broader marketing and educational tool where we can increase everyone’s knowledge about production and expand our network.”
Currently, WHFA’s website averages 2,500 view a week, but Skinner notes they have room to advance their social media presence.
“I hope to leverage the Facebook page more to spread the word about WHFA and what we’re doing,” he comments.
WHFA will also host the Wyoming Hay Show, held during the Wyoming State Fair.
Skinner says, “Overall, we’re working on brainstorming different ways to get our name out so people recognize WHFA.”
In addition to marketing, WHFA emphasizes producer education and has hosted workshops to provide information.
“Our workshops are free to members, but they cost for non-members to attend,” Skinner says. “This year, we hosted two winter meetings, one in Casper and one in Torrington.”
The Torrington event was held in conjunction with Brown Company’s Customer Appreciation Days, which Skinner says was effective in drawing a good crowd.
“Most producers stayed until the end of the meeting, and it was a great opportunity for everyone,” he notes. “We had some weather impacts in Casper that made attendance a little lower, but we had almost 40 people attend both workshops.”
This year, producers were led through an explanation of enterprise budgeting and calculating break-even yields.
“Our hope and our goal was to give producers the understanding and confidence to use this tool on their own operations to improve their profitability,” explains University of Wyoming Extension’s Caleb Carter, who led the workshop with colleague John Hewlett.
In the future, Skinner says he hopes to partner with sponsors across the state to host workshop in conjunction with customer appreciation events. He hopes to have another producer education event in the late fall after haying is complete for the season.
“We’re also hoping to move our workshops around to locations where they are most effective for producers across the state,” he explained.
Producers interested in becoming a member of WHFA should visit the association’s website to find a membership application.
Alternatively, Skinner says any member of the Board of Directors should be able to provide information on membership.
Membership dues can be paid via PayPal or check.
Current leadership of WHFA includes President and Northeast Director Brian Wing, Vice President and Northwest Director Bill Cox, Treasurer and Southwest Director Jerry Weliever, Secretary and Eastern Industry Representative Scott Keith, Southeast Director Robert Cook, Western Industry Representative Mark Evans and Assistant Secretary Caleb Carter.
“This is a new association. We’re trying to grow our membership to promote Wyoming hay,” Skinner describes. “Wyoming hay is really high-quality, and we don’t have a lot of the pests that other states have. WHFA can help to promote hay and help producers get the most for their hay.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.