Cunningham tapped for Ag HOF
On June 26, three leaders in Wyoming agriculture were selected to join an elite list of previous award winners in the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame (HOF).
Ron Cunningham of Lander, alongside Jon and Dianne Kirkbride of Cheyenne, will be recognized for their lifetimes of dedication to the state’s agriculture industry during the Wyoming Agriculture HOF Picnic on Aug. 16 in Douglas during the week of Wyoming State Fair (WSF).
Like his fellow HOF inductees, Ron Cunningham has lived a life deeply devoted to Wyoming’s agriculture industry.
Ron found his passion for the industry while growing up on a farm near Pavillion. He then received an associate’s degree from Casper College and was recognized as the Top Agriculture Student in 1967.
From there, he transferred to the University of Wyoming (UW) and competed on the meats judging team while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in ag education.
After graduation, Ron moved to Gordon, Neb. to teach ag at Gordon High School, then he moved to Riverton and worked for weed and pest. Later, he moved into a position with UW Extension, where he served for 38 years.
“Ron has absolutely demonstrated a lifelong commitment to Wyoming agriculture through his professional career, personal relationships and dedicated public service. More importantly, Ron has instilled the importance of agriculture and the closely associated values of hard work, honesty and resilience to literally thousands of people whom he served as a ag teacher, weed and pest supervisor and county agent,” notes UW Extension Associate Dean and Director Kelly Crane.
“In all of my interactions with Ron, he has always been a staunch supporter of agriculture citizens and holds the most special interest for the agriculture residents of Fremont County,” comments Kent Drake. “Through much of his life, Ron has been there helping and guiding the youngest 4-H members to the oldest ranchers. He has helped and guided various individuals and groups in his own home country, his region of the state and in the state of Wyoming.”
Throughout his years of service to the agriculture industry, Ron has never wavered in placing high priority on his community.
In fact, according to Board of Fremont County Commissioners Chairman Larry Allen, Ron has spent nearly 42 years of service providing agricultural education programs across the state.
These include initiating, planning, organizing and conducting Fremont County Farm and Ranch Days, which has become a highly-successful educational and social event for almost 40 years, as well as planning and conducting the Profitability Conference in conjunction with the Wyoming Wool Growers Association (WWGA), which later included the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) and Wyoming Conservation Districts and is now called the Progressive Ranchers Forum.
Ron also helped plan, organize and serve as an instructor for the Regional Beef Artificial Insemination School for producers in the region.
Additionally, Ron served on two Coordinated Resource Management Projects (CRM) – once as a member of the Tony Malmberg CRM and once as chairman of the Split Rock Ranch CRM.
He also worked with the Wyoming Beef Cattle Improvement Association Bull Test and Sale, helping with data collection, organizing the sale and serving as an active member on the scholarship committee.
In addition, Ron has been very active in 4-H and FFA programs, including organizing ag related activities and educational programs and livestock and meats judging programs.
On top of all this, Ron has served on the Wyoming Water Association, Wyoming State Predator Board, WSGA, WWGA, National Western Stock Show’s Animal Care Committee, Fremont County Recreation Board, Fremont County Predator Management Board, Wyoming Animal Damage Management Board and as a Wyoming State Fair (WSF) assistant junior sheep superintendent.
Ron as also served as manager of the Fremont County Youth Camp for several years and as a member of the One Shot Antelope Hunt Committee. He also serves in leadership roles to plan and conduct the Governor’s Resource Tour in Fremont County and to plan and manage the Wyoming Winter Fair held in Lander.
Ron’s selfless service has not gone unrecognized.
In fact, Ron’s past recognitions include receiving WWGA’s Compadre Award, which recognizes industry contributions from a professional in a position directly related to the sheep industry; the 1981 Extension Agriculture Award; the 1986 Extension Distinguished Service Award; the 2011 Outstanding Extension Educator Award; WSF’s Outstanding 4-H Agent Award; the National County Agricultural Agents Association’s National Finalist in Search for Excellence in Farm and Ranch Business Award; UW Extension’s Creative Excellence Award for his work with the Profitability Conference and the WBCIA Appreciation of Dedicated Service Award.
“I could go on and on with examples of how Ron exemplifies the spirit of this honor. However, I will end with this. In my opinion, there is a short list of folks in Wyoming who have done more for the state and the agricultural community than Ron, and I would imagine this short list already consists of folks carrying the honor of HOF inductee,” says Garrett Horton, financial services officer for Farm Credit Services of America and former Wyoming Agriculture in the Classroom board chairman.
“Ron has played a very active role in Wyoming’s agriculture. He has dedicated his career and his life to agriculture and has shared his passion with so many people. I am proud to call him my father,” states Amanda Winchester, meat science director and instructor at Central Wyoming College and Ron’s daughter.
“Ron is a proven effective leader who elevates the people around him to attain his high standards. Fremont County and the state of Wyoming have been fortunate to be taught by a talented leader who is motivated, competitive and inspirational,” adds Mike McConnell. “I believe it is these talents, incorporated with his strong work ethic, his professional demeanor and his strong family ties that have developed him into a true leader.”
“There is no doubt Ron is a true leader in Wyoming agriculture and is most deserving of this prestigious honor,” comments Tamra Jensen, a retired UW senior Extension educator.
Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.