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Students honored: EWC recognizes top agriculture students at annual awards banquet

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The 2023 Eastern Wyoming College (EWC) Annual Agriculture Awards Banquet, hosted in part by the Sagebrush and Roses Committee, was held on campus April 21 and honored the college’s most outstanding students in the department of agriculture.

“This was one of our most memorable agriculture awards banquets. We had the largest agriculture graduating class ever at EWC at 26,” stated Department Chair Dr. Monte Stokes. “On top of this, it was the most successful year for EWC’s Livestock Judging Team. All of the sophomores had their name called at multiple contests during their time at the college.” 

Outstanding Freshman awards

The agriculture department recognizes outstanding freshmen and sophomores based on academic performance, involvement within agriculture and campus activities, as well as their proposed future involvement in agriculture beyond EWC. 

This year, four freshmen received a Freshman Top Hand Award. They include Garrett Greene of Alfalfa, Ore.; Shelby Madsen of Farson; Daren McConville of Hemingford, Neb. and Hannah Wiskus of Castle Rock, Colo. 

Greene is an agriculture education major and a member of the livestock judging and show teams. This spring, he was the auctioneer for the Lancer Livestock Sale. 

He will be serving as Student Senate president for the 2023-24 academic year and as treasurer for Block and Bridle.

Madsen is a freshman rangeland management major in resident status, but a sophomore in credit status. She was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa and serves as an ambassador for the college. Madsen will be graduating in December 2023.

McConville is a farm and range management major and has been the most active freshman in the agriculture department this spring. He was recognized by the club as the Outstanding First Year Block and Bridle Member and will be serving as Block and Bridle president for the 2023-24 academic year.

Wiskus transferred to the agriculture department this spring from veterinary technology. She is a member of the EWC Livestock Show Team and will be joining the EWC Livestock Judging Team in the fall of 2023. She will also serve as vice president of Block and Bridle for the 2023-24 academic year.

Outstanding Sophomore awards

Seven sophomores were also honored as Top Hand Award recipients, including Celilo Brun of Joseph, Ore.; Shelby Carr of Alliance, Neb.; James Durfee of Lovell and Connor Willard of Torrington.

Brun was an agriculture communications major, resident hall assistant, EWC ambassador, Phi Theta Kappa member and competes on the EWC livestock judging and show teams. 

She served as the president of Block and Bridle this year and was recognized as the Outstanding Block and Bridle Sophomore at the National Block and Bridle Convention. She will be transferring to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) to continue her education and judging career.

Carr was an agriculture education major at EWC and served as an officer for both the Student Senate and Block and Bridle. She was a resident hall assistant and a member of the EWC Livestock Show Team. 

Carr was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa and plans to transfer to Dickinson State University to major in soil science.

Durfee, also an agriculture education major, was a member of the livestock judging and show teams. He also served as an EWC ambassador this year and will be transferring to UNL to complete his degree and to compete on the UNL Livestock Judging Team.

Willard was an agriculture major. He served an officer in Block and Bridle and as a member of Student Senate. Willard plans to work for M Lazy Heart Ranch.

In addition to the Sophomore Top Hand Awards, three other sophomore students were recognized at the banquet.

Michaela Keller of Valentine, Neb. was awarded the 4.0 Club Award, due to her outstanding academics. Keller has served as Student Senate president this past year. She is also a member and officer of Phi Theta Kappa, an ambassador and a Block and Bridle member. 

Keller will be returning to her family operation.

Kaitlyn Rector of Agate, Colo. was awarded the True Grit Award. Rector has served as the Block and Bridle secretary this past year and has helped at the majority of all events sponsored by the agriculture program. 

Rector will also be returning to her family operation.

Coy Kaisler of Savery received the Most Improved Award. Kaisler has continued to improve in the classroom during his time at EWC. 

In addition to getting an education, he also worked full time on his family cattle operation and still managed to graduate in two years. He plans to continue in production agriculture after his graduation.

Livestock judging and show team awards

EWC Livestock Judging Team and Livestock Show Team members were recognized at the banquet as well. 

This year, four students participated on the judging team, five students participated on the show team, and four students participated on both teams.

 “This has been an amazing year for both teams. Our judgers have been recognized more than any other team since the turn of the century,” commented EWC Coach and Instructor Dr. Georgia Younglove.

The program started a leaders board for EWC judgers last year, and this year’s sophomore team replaced leaders on the board for all but one contest they attended. 

Brun was recognized for the Casper Contest, Aksarben and Valentine Bull Bash. Durfee made the board for contests at the American Royal, Louisville, Griswold Contest, Tulsa State Fair and the State Fair of Texas. 

Kaylee Roach of Mapleton, Utah topped the board for Louisville, the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) Carload Contest, Arizona National Livestock Show, Houston, National Barrow Show, Buck’s Cattle Company Contest, Valentine Bull Bash, Tulsa State Fair, State Fair of Texas and Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic. 

McKealy Mickelson of Amherst, Neb. was the sole freshman to make the board at Aksarben,

The Livestock Show Team had the Champion Any Other Wool Breed Ewe at NWSS and the First Place Cotswold Ram at the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Ky.

Graduating Sophomores

EWC also recognized the largest group of graduates to date, which include Kagen Baker of Big Horn; Alejandro Chavarria of Torrington; Mariah Demer of Akron, Colo.; Halle Fegler of Lyman, Neb.; Jadyn Hall of Veteran; Emily Hatch of Torrington; Lorren Henkel of Bayard, Neb.; William Howell of Morrill, Neb. and Makenzie Johnson of Wheatland.

The list also includes Samantha Kernan of  Wheatland; Kamry Knotwell of Encampment; Echo Miller of Sundance; Tyson Morrell or Arthur, Neb.; Hadlee Owens of Vernal, Utah; Keeley Puls of Laramie; Duward Randall of Torrington; Elizabeth Schaefer of Wheatland and Macoyia Stoneking of Hartville.

Sophomore honorees Brun, Carr, Durfee, Kaisler, Keller, Rector, Roach and Willard are also 2023 EWC graduates.

This article was provided by EWC. For more information, visit

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