WSGA’s first and only female president expresses importance of association
Lois G. Herbst grew up on a farm in southern Ohio and served in the military after graduating high school. She eventually married a rancher, moved to Wyoming and has called Wyoming home ever since.
“I knew nothing about ranching before moving to Wyoming,” Lois says. “My husband taught me everything I had to know; how to chop ice on the river so cattle could drink, check pastures through the night during calving, etc. I learned everything from him about taking care of cattle. It’s a good life.”
The ranching way of life was new to Lois at the time, but she developed a passion for agriculture and has advocated for ranchers throughout the years.
Lois chaired the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) Private Lands Committee and represented the committee while attending National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) conventions. She also represented WSGA on the NCBA Live Animal Marketing Committee as well as on the NCBA Political Action Committee.
Lois served as second vice president of WSGA in 1998 and was elected WSGA president in 2005.
“Becoming president fell right in with what I was already doing,” she says.
Lois made history as WSGA’s first female president, and she is the association’s only female president to date.
On top of all of this involvement with several associations, Lois also managed the family ranch, Herbst Lazy TY Cattle Co. near Shoshoni.
She enjoyed getting to know ranchers across the state and learning the history of the West through her involvement on the ranch.
“Through ranching, going to meetings and being interested in history – I have been all over the state,” Lois says. “Every place we took cattle I would get associated with the history of the ranches in the area.”
Women in ag
Lois says although women are not always recognized for their work in ag, they have always been involved on ranches and will continue to play important roles in the industry.
“Women are involved in ag more than anyone ever realized because they were quietly doing the work on the ranch,” she says. “Anything a rancher was involved with, the women were also.”
Lois mentions women still do everything required on a ranch these days.
“Women ride, work cattle, calve, etc.,” she says. “Women are also up at 4 a.m. cooking breakfast for the family and hired men, securing food for their use in the winter with canning and growing a big garden.”
WSGA protects rights
Lois mentions much of her time as WSGA president was spent dealing with issues related to animal identification, which are still issues ranchers face today.
“The same issues keep recurring, some in a more dangerous form and some get mitigation help,” she says.
Lois explains WSGA has protected ranchers’ rights for many years and will continue to do so.
“On the whole, we have to work to protect ranchers’ grazing rights and water rights,” she says. “Some environmental groups would prefer ranchers aren’t on the land. They consider federal lands their lands for wildlife.”
“It’s issues like this we fight year in and year out,” Lois continues. “This year another worry is the 30×30 initiative. It never ends.”
Lois notes ranching in Wyoming wouldn’t be where it is today without WSGA and the work the members do.
“It’s a big job to protect the right to use federal lands for grazing, but that’s one of the big things WSGA does,” she says. “WSGA protects our rights for grazing lands and owning cattle; they set up a brand system for the inspection of cattle in order to identify and maintain ownership through owning a brand and applying it to the animal.”
She mentions WSGA will continue to protect ranchers’ rights in the future while working with Congress.
“WSGA continues to have a good relationship with our Congressional people and with the governor,” Lois says. “WSGA will continue to advocate for ranchers.”
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.