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WSGA annual award winners recognized at summer convention

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

On June 9, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) held its annual Awards Luncheon just before closing the 2023 Wyoming Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show.

Clifford P. Hansen

The Clifford P. Hansen Memorial Scholarship is given in remembrance of Sen. Clifford Hansen, and the memorial scholarship was established through contributions received in memory of Hansen and other departed WSGA leaders. 

WSGA believes continuing education is an important asset for youth, and this year, the association recognized two outstanding students pursuing an education related to Wyoming agriculture and/or natural resources, Gracie Keiter and Jackson Kirkbride. 

“The Clifford P. Hansen Memorial Scholarship serves as a reminder of the dedicated leadership provided to WSGA and the state of Wyoming by past and current leaders of our industry,” stated WSGA Executive Vice President Jim Magagna during the ceremony.

Stewardship Award 

WSGA’s Environmental Stewardship Program and Award partners with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and recognizes Wyoming cattlemen whose natural resource stewardship practices contribute to the environment and enhance productivity and profitability.

According to WGSA Marketing and Communication Director Olivia Sanchez, “Each year, a different Wyoming ranch is chosen based on these qualities.”

This year, WSGA honored Big Creek Ranch of Encampment as the Environmental Stewardship Award winner. Big Creek Ranch was originally established in 1878 and is currently owned by the Gates Family. 

Mark Dunning serves as ranch manager for Big Creek Ranch, where he oversees the cow/calf and yearling operations.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department explained Big Creek Ranch has been an integral partner in managing aquatic and terrestrial resources in the Platte Valley for many decades. 

According to the Saratoga-Encampment-Rawlins Conservation District, Big Creek Ranch’s stewardship practices focus on adaptive rotational grazing, ranching conservation projects and cooperation with local conservation initiatives. 

Outstanding Rangeland Professional

Additionally, WGSA awarded their Outstanding Rangeland Professional Award to Rod Litzel from Johnson County Weed and Pest. WSGA’s Region Three Vice President Leif Hanson offered Litzel his award. 

Litzel has been employed with the Johnson County Weed and Pest since 1988 and is a district supervisor. 

Guardian of
the Grasslands

WSGA also presented their Guardian of the Grasslands Award. 

This honor is given to an individual who has put time and effort into preserving Wyoming’s agriculture industry, and this year’s award was given to Kelly Crane, associate dean and director of University of Wyoming Extension. 

Crane stated, “I would like to thank Dennis Sun for nominating me. Much of my professional success can be attributed to the mentorship and experience of Dennis and many other WSGA members.”

Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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