Outstanding alumni to be awarded
The University of Wyoming (UW) College of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources annually recognizes alumni who are distinguished in their business, profession or life’s work. They exhibit integrity, stature, demonstrated ability; and reflect upon the importance of their education at UW.
This year’s honorees are Larry Prager and Craig Alford. They will receive their awards during the Ag Appreciation Banquet Sept. 29 as well as be recognized at the UW football game on Oct. 1.
Prager is a Wyoming native and went to high school in Douglas. Growing up, he was very active in 4-H and FFA.
“I grew up on a cattle outfit, but my dad was a sheepman at heart,” he notes. “I started shearing sheep when I was in high school. In a nutshell, I was one of those kids who went through sheep projects in Extension and FFA and it was really a large part of my education – these programs remain a strong educational system that so many young folks across Wyoming are a part of today.”
Prager was fortunate to receive a few scholarships to attend the UW and received his bachelor’s degree in animal science.
Today, Prager spends a lot of his time advocating for the sheep industry and sharing information impacting the wool industry. As the Center of the Nation Wool, Inc. CEO, receiving this award means a lot to him.
“One thing about this award is someone has to nominate you,” he says. “I was fortunate to be nominated and then selected – it’s very humbling.”
“I would say very simply, it means a lot,” he adds. “Also, it’s very humbling to stand before the College of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources as an outstanding alumni. It’s certainly appreciated and it will be a grand day.”
“I’m the product of the system,” he concludes. “Education has made such a difference for me and for so many. Not only 4-H, FFA and UW Extension, but as I received my education from UW, it’s hard to imagine my life without the educational influence and the impact it has had on me.”
As an Australia native growing up on a cattle operation, Alford developed a passion for the agriculture industry. In 1991, Alford came to the U.S. as an exchange student. After spending some time in Torrington in high school and returning home, he then returned back to Torrington to study at Eastern Wyoming Community College, and then transferred to UW where he received his bachelor’s degree in Agroecology.
“When I was finishing up with my bachelor’s, I had the opportunity to continue on with my master’s degree with Dr. Steve Miller in the Plant Sciences Department,” he says.
Alford finished his bachelor’s degree in 1996 and his master’s degree in 1998 and found himself starting his career in the industry.
After graduation, Alford began working with Pioneer at a research station in western Illinois. He then had the opportunity to go back to Laramie and work as an associate research scientist while working on his PhD, finishing in 2004.
“After finishing my PhD degree, I took a job with DuPont Crop Protection in Lincoln, Neb.,” he says. “I covered eastern Nebraska, eastern South Dakota as a field research scientist for about three years and then moved into some more marketing positions within DuPont in Denver, Colo.”
Throughout the years, Alford has worked on a variety of projects, including weed control and pasture, rangeland and vegetation management. Today, he resides in Ankeny, Iowa and is a global biology leader for Coverta Agriscience. Although he resides in the Midwest, his involvement with Corteva continues to make a difference in the West.
“I have a lot of interaction with different research projects in Wyoming and actually within this last year, I’ve had some projects working with sugarbeets, pasture and rangelands,” he says. “I still have a lot of connections back in Wyoming and I’m looking forward to making it back to Laramie for the upcoming event.”
Alford shares he always knew he wanted to be involved in agriculture, but was inspired by several UW personnel to become more involved in plant sciences.
“I’ve always had a strong interest to be connected with agriculture,” he says. “But, a lot of my interest blossomed from working on several of those early research station projects back in Torrington. To still be connected with some research projects going on in Wyoming is great.”
“When I got the call in regards to this award, it was pretty cool – to be able to get the recognition, it means a lot,” he concludes. “I appreciate the award and can’t say enough how much it means to me.”
Both participants will be returning to Laramie to receive their award during the Ag Appreciation Banquet Sept. 29, as well as at the Ag Day BBQ and football game Oct. 1. In addition to the Outstanding Alumni Award, a Legacy Award and Outreach Partner Award will be given during this year’s activities. These awards will be featured in a future edition of the Roundup.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.