Outstanding women in ag honored
On Aug. 20, 17 Wyoming women were honored for their contributions to the state’s agriculture industry with Heart of Agriculture Awards during a special program held at the Ruthe James Williams Memorial Conference Center during the Wyoming State Fair.
“We have been diving into the history of women producers in the state for about three years now, and it is a lot bigger than one might think,” said University of Wyoming (UW) Extension Educator Scott Cotton. “Since Wyoming became a territory, women have been an essential part of agriculture in this state. Since 1912, women have been key volunteer leaders in Extension across everything from nutrition to youth development to ag programs, so it is really important for us to recognize the key role women play in our industry.”
Cotton continued, “Women give life to our operations, and they power our dreams. They nurture, teach and mentor our kids. They play a role as our value systems, counselors and economic and health coaches. These women haul, brand, lamb, calve, swath, fence, manage records, feed and train the dogs. They get the kids to and from school and help them with their homework. And somehow, in their free time, they have managed to cook up a meal to feed us all.”
“After they are done for the day, these women drive into town and take part on boards, committees and elected offices to help guide our communities the way they help guide us at home. They usually get home to us snoozing on a chair under a blanket they’ve made,” said Cotton. “It’s pretty evident women really are the heart of agriculture.”
With this, Cotton invited Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna to the stand to introduce the 2021 Heart of Agriculture Award recipients.
Albany County honoree
The first woman to receive Heart of Agriculture recognition was Janet Talbott of Albany County.
“Janet and her husband started as married producers in the High Plains in 1965 and soon became well known for their club calves and Brae-Arden-Hereford cattle,” noted Magagna. “With a focus on family and youth, Janet co-founded the Super Skeeters 4-H Club in 1972 and continued as a leader until 1987.”
Magagna explained, Talbott continues to assist with pedigree and production documentation on her ranch, while also helping with calving checks and cooking for the branding crew.
Campbell County honoree
Bobbi Geis of Campbell County was second in line to receive recognition.
Geis is currently president of the Campbell County CattleWomen, an active 4-H leader and charter member of her FFA Alumni Group and is involved in her local Homebuilder’s Club.
“If not feeding, gathering, branding, shearing, calving, lambing or pregnancy testing, one can find Bobbi at Campbell County Fair, Wyoming State Fair or the Ag Expo educating attendees about the agriculture industry because she is a true advocate for agriculture,” said Magagna.
Carbon County honoree
Next to receive recognition was Vickie Herring from Carbon County.
“Operating outside of Encampment, Vickie has partnered for 50 years raising registered and commercial Angus cattle and club calves,” explained Magagna. “Vickie makes an art of balancing cattle production and children, while recently winning the Champion Pen of Feeders at the National Western Stock Show.”
“Vickie is an aggressive supporter of 4-H, FFA and school basketball programs and is involved in the Snowy Range CattleWomen, Wyoming CattleWomen and church activities,” Magagna added.
Converse County honoree
From Converse County, Laurie Boner was honored as the Heart of Agriculture Award winner.
“Laurie is the bloodstream of one of our most progressive and promotional ranch families,” stated Magagna. “Whether it is supporting the development of the Mountain States Lamb Cooperative, helping family and friends develop direct sales for lamb products or raising new generations of producers, Laurie quietly works with dedication, creativity and focus to promote agriculture.”
Fremont County honoree
Janet Givens was the Fremont County Heart of Agriculture honoree.
Magagna noted Givens partners on a diverse operation while also serving as an advocate to a wide array of audiences.
In fact, Givens has served various roles within the Wyoming CattleWomen, Lander Valley CattleWomen and Fremont County CattleWomen. She also partners with UW Extension for the Fremont County Farm and Ranch Days and coordinates the annual Agriculture Exposition for third graders across Fremont County.
Goshen County honoree
From Goshen County, Jenny Conrad was honored.
Conrad has been the secretary for the Wyoming CattleWomen’s Association for several years while also serving as promotions chairperson for the Goshen County CattleWomen, as county fair superintendent and in many other community roles.
Hot Springs County honoree
Carol Dockery was the Hot Springs County honoree.
“Carol has served as a 4-H leader for 20 years and is currently serving on the Hot Springs County Farm Bureau,” noted Magagna. “She serves as a member of the Hot Springs Pioneer Museum Board, Hot Springs County Historical Society and was appointed to the Hot Springs County Natural Resource Planning Committee by county commissioners. Carol has also worked as an election judge for over 35 years.”
Johnson County honoree
The Heart of Agriculture honoree from Johnson County was Colette Camino Fenster.
“Coming from one of our legacy ranch production families, Colette not only loves ranching, but supports many others in doing the same,” stated Magagna. “She serves as an essential component at fairs, shearings, brandings and rodeos while assisting in an active role of fundraising for agricultural causes.”
Laramie County honoree
Bobbie Frank of Laramie County also received the recognition.
“Bobbie and her husband Dan have owned and operated Horse Creek Angus near Meriden since 2013. Prior to this, they ranched south of Cheyenne,” explained Magagna.
Magagna further explained Bobbie is most widely known for her advocacy in regards to conservation and agriculture in Wyoming. In fact, Bobbie served as executive director of the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts for 29 years and as executive director of the Wyoming Natural Resource Foundation since its inception in 1993.
Natrona County honoree
Mary Allemand Owens was the honoree for Natrona County.
“Mary balances decades of ranching with service on the Natrona County Republican Central Committee, Weed and Pest boards, Natrona County CattleWomen, Farm Service Agency County Committee, the Agriculture Expo for Youth, Natrona County Cowboy Hall of Fame Committee and a practicing Master Gardener,” said Magagna.
Additionally, Owens is a current member of the Wyoming Livestock Board and former member of the Natrona County Predator Board.
Niobrara County honoree
From Niobrara County, Carmen Shane received the Heart of Agriculture Award.
“With a reputation for producing quality hay, Carmen and her husband also operate a yearling cattle operation and raised sheep for many years,” said Magagna. “Carmen supports almost every community activity in Niobrara County with an ever-present smile.”
Park County honoree
Deanna Siggins was the award recipient from Park County.
“Deanna was born into a ranching family south of Great Falls, Mont. She met her husband Alan in college, and they were married in 1967,” explained Magagna. “Besides cooking for the family, Deanna did regular ranching chores to help out with the livestock.”
Following the passing of Alan’s mother, Deanna took over all the bookwork for their ranch. She also served as a volunteer at the Cody Long Term Care Center for 32 years, was a charter member of the Cody Country CattleWomen and served as an election judge for 30 years, according to Magagna.
Sheridan County honoree
Terri Kane of Sheridan County also received the Heart of Agriculture Award.
“Terri is the partner behind the scenes helping to keep numerous different ranches running for decades. With ranches, livestock and family scattered from mountain meadows across 45 miles to dry rangelands, the books, wildfires, drought and day-to-day operations can be a challenge, but Terri does not let this overshadow her commitment to community organizations and family,” said Magagna.
Sublette County honoree
From Sublette County, Amanda McGinnis was the recipient of the Heart of Agriculture Award.
“Amanda is a full-time rancher and mother of toddlers. Calving, feeding, branding, fencing, shipping and range management are all part of Amanda’s life, and like many women producers, she has a child on her hip most of the time,” stated Magagna.
Magagna also noted Amanda plays an active role in the Young Producers Assembly of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and has helped create a Ranch Toddler Safety Program with UW Extension.
Teton County honoree
Kate Mead was the award recipient from Teton County.
“Kate is involved in every aspect of day-to-day operations on the Mead Ranch near Jackson,” stated Magagna. “She calves heifers, feeds, sorts, brands and generally mothers the family’s Black Angus herd.”
“Kate started diversifying 12 years ago by buying steer calves, finishing them on ‘spent’ grain from local brewers and selling the finished product directly to local restaurants, grocers and butchers as Jackson Hole Natural Beef,” added Magagna. “Kate also serves on the School Board, Learning Center Board, Teton Conservation District, Jackson Hole Land Trust and the Grand Teton National Park Foundation Board.”
Uinta County honoree
Magagna recognized Karen Henry as the Heart of Agriculture honoree from Uinta County.
Magagna noted Karen formerly served as the president of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation and Mountain West Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company for 11 years. She was also involved in the American Farm Bureau Board of Directors, the Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Program, Wyoming Ag in the Classroom, Beef Checkoff, Willow Creek Homemaker’s Club and Fort Bridger Cemetery District.
Additionally, Karen is currently an active leader and ag representative in the Uinta County Citizen’s Coalition for Sound Resource Use and Management.
Weston County honoree
Lastly, from Weston County, Dana Tysdal received the Heart of Agriculture Award.
“Raised on a ranch only 10 miles from her current operation, Dana can be found spending days on a swather, moving, gathering and vaccinating cattle, running for parts, feeding chickens, cats and dogs and helping sick neighbors clean their house or driving them to the doctor,” said Magagna. “Stepping up into any role needed, Dana is the ‘heart’ of agriculture.”
Hannah Bugas is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.