Wyoming sheep industry gains support and promotion: Wyoming Sheep Foundation serves sheep producers and public interest in preserving state and industry heritage
The history of the sheep industry is deeply rooted in Wyoming’s rich heritage, and the newly formed Wyoming Sheep Foundation aims to help preserve and promote the heritage of the industry in which many producers across the state cherish.
Support for advancing the Wyoming sheep industry, promoting wool and lamb products through educational events and exhibits, as well as research and encouragement for producers are just a few of the goals the Wyoming Sheep Foundation has set in the beginning stages of organization.
“There seemed to be a clear need for a modern-day foundation that is active and had the interest of the sheep business and sheep enterprises across Wyoming at hand,” said Wyoming Sheep Foundation Board President Larry Prager. “The most recent concept of the foundation started about three years ago, and we have a good group of directors at the beginning stages of the organization.”
At this time, the foundation is incorporated within the state of Wyoming, and the board of directors has applied for 501(c)(3) status.
Focus on benefits to sheep industry
While the board works to finalize the organization details of the foundation, they have been having strategic discussions about their interests and goals.
“Anything we can support that has to do with the heritage of the sheep industry in Wyoming, whether that be preserving the history or putting it on display, and this could be in museums, school programs or educational exhibits,” Prager shared. “Certainly, one of the goals of the Wyoming Sheep Foundation is to keep the story of the sheep industry and this historical piece of Wyoming alive.”
Preserving and sharing the history behind the sheep industry’s role in the foundation of Wyoming is a worthy goal of the foundation, but Prager noted the Wyoming Sheep Foundation will also work to educate the public about products of the industry – particularly lamb and wool – as well as issues related to sheep production, including environmental concerns and management.
“Sheep are amazing animals,” he said. “They’re drought tolerant and they eat noxious weeds other animals can’t tolerate as well, and sharing the benefits of sheep is absolutely an educational process.”
Along with education, the Wyoming Sheep Foundation looks to support projects and research that benefits producers, including development and improvement in value-added products and to serve as a funding mechanism for activities which fit their goals and purpose.
“There are many projects down the road we certainly intend to be a part of,” said Prager. “We want to be a viable player in preserving and sharing Wyoming’s sheep industry heritage, and hopefully the Wyoming Sheep Foundation in known as the tool that strengthens the public’s understanding of the sheep industry and provides support for years to come.”
The Wyoming Sheep Foundation differs from the Wyoming Wool Growers Association (WWGA) in that the foundation is a charitable organization and cannot play a role when it comes to influencing policy. Prager shared WWGA has the ability to serve the sheep industry when it comes to policy issues facing producers, including predator control.
“We are here to serve, encourage and promote the sheep business and worthy projects and to provide resources to support works in the sheep industry that benefit the public,” he said. “This is something I am very excited about, and I see this as a long-term project. The leadership will change throughout the years, but if funded properly, there is no end to the important works for the good of the sheep we can be a part of.”
Averi Hales is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.