Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame honors 2022 inductees
Pat and Sharon O’Toole and Scott Keith are recognized as this year’s Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame inductees. The Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame has been honoring Wyoming’s agriculture leaders since 1992.
Scott grew up ranching near Kaycee and developed a passion for agriculture at a young age, according to his loved ones. He was extremely involved with Wyoming agriculture and left a lasting impact on the state. Scott passed away in 2020.
“Scott was a passionate advocate for the livestock and forage industry in Wyoming and a cherished friend,” writes nominator Cindy Garretson-Weibel.
Scott served as a spokesperson for Wyoming agriculture and advocated for the ranching industry throughout his lifetime.
“Scott was always trying to better the agriculture industry in Wyoming and the producers he cherished,” Cindy says.
Scott attended Casper College (CC) and the University of Wyoming (UW) to receive an associate degree in agriculture and a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness.
During the 1980s, Scott worked as an ag loan officer for the Production Credit Association, then First Interstate Bank in Casper. Scott was able to develop life-long relationships with ag producers during this time.
Scott worked for MoorMan Manufacturing through the 1990s as a district sales manager and an area sales manager, where he “excelled in leadership development, whether it was developing an employee, a colleague or an agriculture producer,” says Cindy.
He joined the Wyoming Business Council Agribusiness Division in 2002 as the forage and co-op development program specialist. He was then promoted to the livestock and forage program manager.
“Scott was responsible for the promotion of the Wyoming hay and forage industry and in 2005, he revitalized the Wyoming State Fair Hay Show,” says Cindy. “Scott continued to showcase the hay industry and generate excitement and enthusiasm about Wyoming hay and forage across the U.S.”
Scott, along with seedstock producers, worked to develop the Wyoming Livestock Genetics Association to promote livestock genetics in Wyoming.
“Scott loved good cattle and few could judge cattle as well as he could,” says Cindy. “He had a knack for recognizing excellent genetics.”
Scott initiated the development of the Future Cattle Producers of Wyoming program to get youth involved with cattle. Through this program, a high school student was paired with a donated heifer, and an experienced seedstock producer mentored the student. The emphasis was to educate youth in cattle production with a real-life opportunity to raise cattle.
Scott joined the BigIron Auctions team in 2016 as an area sales representative and was later promoted to the district manager.
“Scott’s passion for Wyoming agriculture lived on as he was able to help producers sell and buy equipment,” says nominator Kurt Campbell of BigIron Auctions.
He was also involved with the Wyoming Wool Growers Association (WWGA) and Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA), as well as served as chairman for the Wyoming AgXpo.
Aside from Scott’s extensive involvement within the agriculture industry, he was also involved with the local community. Scott served on the Casper Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee, the Natrona County Conservation District, and he served as the president for the Casper Swim Club, the Kelly Walsh Booster Club and the Kelly Walsh Quarterback Club.
“Scott was truly a Wyoming ag professional,” says Kurt. “His love for Wyoming and all facets of the ag industries motivated him to be the best he could be. He will be sorely missed, and his career and personal efforts will live on.”
In honor of Scott, a $1,000 scholarship was set up for one UW student and one CC student who is majoring in agricultural business or a related degree.
Pat and Sharon, along with their daughter Meghan and son Eamon, operate the Ladder Ranch in Carbon County. Sharon’s family has stewarded the same land since 1881.
Pat and Sharon’s dedication to agriculture and the Western lifestyle is evident through their accomplishments.
Sharon is a full-time rancher and a talented journalist who mainly writes about the West, natural resources and the issues affecting agriculture and food production. She writes a monthly column for The Shepherd magazine and has authored two children’s books about ranch life, the sesquicentennial poem for the WSGA and writes a blog about ranch life.
“Sharon uses her skills to inspire readers of all ages,” writes Libby Crews Wood. “Her words remind me, I, too, am connected to the land.”
In addition, Pat speaks extensively to water user groups and agencies. He served in the Wyoming Legislature, and on the presidentially-appointed Western Water Policy Commission. He is the current president of the Family Farm Alliance, which represents western irrigators.
Pat has testified before the U.S. House Resource Committee on water, agriculture and land use issues in Wyoming and in the West.
“Pat has always been a vocal and effective advocate for agriculture, and I have especially appreciated his dedication to western water issues,” writes Cat Urbigkit.
Pat and Sharon are active members of WSGA, WWGA, Wyoming Farm Bureau, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and Colorado Wool Growers Association.
The O’Tooles strive to conserve their ranch, which is home to one of North America’s largest elk herds, one of the only thriving mule deer herds in the region, Greater sage grouse, Colorado cutthroat trout and Gambel oak.
“Ranching is a team effort, and Pat and Sharon O’Toole have been working together to build the Ladder Livestock Company and the Ladder Ranch,” writes nominator Randy Teeuwen. “The ranch has been home to the O’Toole family for six generations and they are active in community, agricultural and political affairs and keeping the Western heritage alive.”
Pat and Sharon received the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust Kurt Bucholz Conservation Award in 2016 in recognition of their work on water and conservation issues in Wyoming. They also received the Partners for Wildlife award from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for stream management practices on Battle Creek in 2008.
The Ladder Ranch participates in the Sage Grouse Initiative, the Conservation Stewardships Program and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife program.
Pat serves on the board of directors for the Intermountain Joint Venture, a public/private group which advocates for migratory birds. He also serves on the boards of Partners for Conservation, Farm Foundation and Solutions from the Land.
“Pat and Sharon’s efforts in conservation, water development, fish, bird and wildlife habitat and grazing rights and programs have been critical to the success of the Ladder Ranch and the general health and sustainability of the ag and hospitality culture,” writes Mike Sullivan.
The O’Tooles and Scott Keith will be honored and inducted into the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame at the annual picnic set for Wednesday, Aug. 17 at 5:30 p.m. at Riverside Park in Douglas. Call 307-234-2700 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.