YPA president looks forward to the next 150 years of WSGA
Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) Young Producers Assembly (YPA) President Sage Askin is a fifth-generation Wyomingite who grew up in Douglas. Sage started his own operation “completely from scratch.”
He is grateful for WSGA and what the association has done for Wyoming ag over the years, and he looks forward to seeing what the future holds for the association and Wyoming agriculture as a whole.
Sage has been a WSGA member for 10 years and a YPA member since its start in 2015. He was part of the inaugural crew developing YPA.
Sage notes he initially became a WSGA member to network with other ranchers across the state.
“What attracted me to WSGA was it’s a networking event to meet Wyoming’s really successful ranchers and mentors and make connections, but I was quickly able to ascertain it’s also the most affective ag affiliate operation in Wyoming,” he says.
The effectiveness of the association is what kept Sage interested and inspired him to become an active member.
“Most of the time, if something is proposed in legislature negatively effecting Wyoming ag, WSGA is able to stop it in committee, and it doesn’t even get brought forth,” he says. “If it’s going to positively impact Wyoming ag, it usually gets all the way to a vote. The system is very effective.”
“I’ve realized Wyoming ag as we know it, our state’s favorable tax laws and private property rights have been strengthened by WSGA,” Sage continues. “The livestock industry would certainly not exist like it does without the influence of WSGA.”
YPA’s mission is to generate opportunities for young producers to be successful and passionate about the livestock industry in Wyoming, notes Sage.
“YPA follow this mission very closely,” he says. “We see ourselves as the education wing of WSGA.”
He notes YPA members are involved with progressive rancher forums, cattlemen’s colleges, regional outreach events and more. Sage says WSGA hasn’t historically been an association to “pat itself on the back,” and YPA is helping the association proudly share the work they do.
“We are trying to bring in new membership. We are pretty involved with outreach and spreading the word about WSGA,” he says. “We bring our expertise in social media knowledge to the table.”
Sage says most YPA members are young producers engaged in production ag.
“Most YPA members have taken over their families’ ranches. Some are employed on the ranch, and some are planning to take over the operation in the future,” he says. “They’re all in various stages of succession. We spend a lot of time focusing on successional issues.”
YPA president’s role
Sage mentions his number one goal as YPA president is to develop leaders.
“We have a bright, young group of people, and I’m there to help them learn about themselves and to become leaders someday,” he says.
Sage is also in charge of facilitating various events and committees YPA manages. This includes the education and outreach committee; social, recruitment and events committee; policy committee; public relations and media committee; and finance committee.
“I make sure these are all functioning and keep the committee chairs enthusiastic and engaged,” he says. “I also serve on the leadership team of WSGA. It’s been eye opening and impactful for my leadership career developing other leaders.”
Sage notes his role as president revolves around “connecting the dots between the older generation and younger generation of producers.”
Future of WSGA
Sage mentions ranching has changed drastically over the years, and this is something WSGA needs to keep in mind.
“We have a whole new wing of progressive ranching,” he says. “Ranching has changed so much in the past 30 years. A producer can’t often buy a ranch with livestock on the ranch anymore, almost never.”
Sage says the future of Wyoming ranching will most likely not involve many owner-operators, but instead, operators and owners as two separate entities.
“I see WSGA mitigating this relationship going forward, and I think there can still be great success by both parties,” he says. “Producers will see a lot of emphasis on leasing and protecting private property rights, but there will be a shift towards protecting producers who don’t own land but do own livestock on the land. WSGA will be involved with these producers’ private property rights and their lease being a right.”
Sage mentions land now has other values which weren’t so valuable in the past, including aesthetics, wildlife recreational value, wind and solar values.
“These are things WSGA will be very involved with in the future,” he says.
Sage says grazing management, stewardship of land, environmental concerns and animal welfare are all huge issues producers in Wyoming are currently facing, and WSGA will continue to mitigate these concerns with Wyoming’s producers in mind.
“Producers will see WSGA do things with stockmanship so ranchers can have better animal welfare with better grazing management to run more livestock in a more sustainable manner,” Sage says. “This is the direction producers will see WSGA going over the next 150 years.”
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.