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“When choosing whom to nominate for such an esteemed group, I thought quite a bit about what Grant represents – how he helps agriculture and the people in agriculture, how he protects what we have and how he presents Wyoming to others,” writes southeast Wyoming rancher Larry Cundall of Wheatland native Grant Stumbough in his letter to the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame selection committee. “I believe he gets an ‘A’ grade in all of these categories.”
Stumbough was raised on a ranch near Wheatland, and he says his dad still runs cattle on the family ranch. After spending time around Wyoming working for state government, he says it was good to return home to Wheatland as the Southeast Wyoming RC&D Coordinator.
“Grant is a product of a rural ranch family, completing his share of early years in a country school, learning the country values that have served him well in his years in government service,” continues Cundall.
The nomination form for Stumbough reads, “Grant is a proven leader in helping people over his past 30-plus years of public service.”
Stumbough has spent most of his time working with Wyoming State Government, helping in the areas of drought, watershed improvement, public grazing issues, water quality, mediation, local empowerment, wild horse issues, endangered species issues, range management, carbon sequestration, wind energy development, to name a few.
“Ag has always been near and dear to my heart,” says Stumbough, adding he likes working with producers and wide-open spaces. “I’ve always respected those who feed and clothe the world. It’s a noble profession.”
Stumbough graduated from Wheatland High School before spending two years at Casper College and two years at the University of Wyoming, which gained him a degree in Agribusiness in 1980. He began his career with the state as a compliance inspector in the Department of Agriculture, where he inspected various facilities like dairies and oversaw weights and measures inspections on things like livestock scales.
“A job in the natural resources section came open, and the current director encouraged me to apply,” says Stumbough. “My first job was working with conservation districts, and I didn’t know what they were or what they did, but I’ve always been interested in natural resources.”
Stumbough says through his work with the conservation districts he became hooked on natural resource policy. “Doing good things for the land and working with the ranchers is what I liked the most,” he notes.
Throughout his career Stumbough has been involved in many projects and causes, but he says his number one is coordinated resource management, or CRMs.
“My good friend Dennis Sun got me started on that years ago, and to me it made so much sense, especially on public lands, to make sure we have all the stakeholders working together,” says Stumbough. “We really did a good job with that, and to set goals as a group and make assignments and action plans and see good things happen on the land was one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever done.”
He says equally as satisfying is his current project – landowner associations and wind energy development.
“I like people processes, because, to me, that’s when you make things happen,” he notes, speaking of how the ag industry in southeast Wyoming has unified to work toward one goal – wind energy development – that’s good for the resource and can assist independence from foreign oil. “We’ve got neighbors working with neighbors to put together requests for proposals and using collective bargaining to help each other with a community-based payment.”
“Grant Stumbough has helped more farmers and ranchers in the state of Wyoming in the last few years utilize their resources that anyone else,” write Rocky and Nancy Foy in a letter of support for Stumbough. “He is on the leading edge of the wind farms, and he has been a voice for the wind farms in the southeastern part of the state and for the western part of the United States.”
While wind energy takes 90 percent of his current focus, Stumbough’s new project is the Pathway to Water Quality on the Wyoming State Fairgrounds.
“It’s a cool project, because we have a lot of entities involved, coming together in the name of doing what we can to educate and inform livestock producers and provide them with new technologies to protect water quality,” he says.
Shawnee area rancher Terry Henderson, who’s involved in a wind association, says, “Like those involved in production agriculture, Grant does not know the meaning of a 40-hour work week. He gives of his time far beyond his ‘official’ work day for the rural people.”
“The work that Grant has done will not only affect ranches in the short term, but he leaves a lasting legacy for those of us working the land, regardless of the outcome of wind development in Wyoming,” continues Henderson. “Many of the communities have become closer as a result of these groups.”
“Grant takes the punch line out of the old joke, ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you,’” says Cundall. “Grant really is here to help, and he has been for a long time.”
Join the Roundup, Farm Credit Services and EnCana, USA for the 2010 Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame Picnic Aug. 18 at 5:30 p.m., where Grant Stumbough will be recognized along with the Don and Peto Meike of Kaycee. Christy Hemken is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Laurel, Mont. – Knowing full well that the risk of getting hung up in a stirrup and dragged by a horse is high when working on a ranch, Montana’s Mike McCoy decided to do something to lessen that risk when his kids were old enough to start riding.
     “My dad has been in the cattle business his whole life, and he’s been dragged himself, and he saw a guy killed in Wyoming,” says Jake McCoy, Mike’s son. “When we kids started riding, he was pretty sure one of us would get dragged, so he was always helping us with our feet and none of us rode with stirrups until we were pretty old.”
    It was after Mike heard about a kid who was killed at a branding that he sat down with a man in Billings, Mont. to partner on the original breakaway stirrup, and that’s when he founded Saddle Technologies Incorporated. After the design and mechanics were worked out, Mike also took input from cowboy friends and engineers to fine-tune the stirrups.
    “Today the principle of the mechanics is the same, but they have been engineered and fine-tuned over the years,” says Jake. “Today it works a lot better, and will last a whole lot longer, but the firing pin function is the same, at 45 degrees forward and 72 degrees back.”
    “The most difficult part of making the stirrup is the design,” he adds. “It’s a bi-directional firing pin. Most firing pins will fire when the spring coils going into its natural position, but since we have a forward and backward release the spring also has to fire when it’s uncoiling, so everything really has to be right with our parts.”
Building a business
     To finish the stirrups, Jake says he does the rawhide, while Rotie Twitchell from Park City, Utah takes care of the stitching.
     Pricing on the stirrups ranges from $320 to $600, depending on how fancy the customer wants them.
     “We do some custom tooling and silverwork, but typically with custom saddles we prefer to sell a bare pair of stirrups so the saddle maker can match them to the saddle,” says Jake.
     Customers come from all 50 states and 14 countries, including quite a few in Canada.
     Of the market for the breakaway stirrups, Jake says that on their best year they sold between 500 and 600 pairs. The McCoys advertise through their website, as well as in magazine and occasional television ads and a few shows.
     “We’re about as much of a family company as it gets,” says Jake. “It’s my folks and I, and Rotie who does the leather covering.”
     “Normal use varies from customer to customer, but we sure build these to last,” he comments. “We put a five-year warranty on them, and judging from saddle wear, they last about 70 percent the life of a saddle. Some guys wear them out, but they wear out saddles and horses, too. For an average pleasure rider these days, they shouldn’t have any trouble getting a lifetime out of them.”
    In addition to the stirrup business, the McCoys also raise purebred Charolais cattle.
       “We bounce back and forth between the ranch and the business end of the stirrups,” says Jake.
Success stories
    Jake says there are many stories about how the stirrups have prevented wrecks.
    “The one I’m most familiar with saved my own neck,” he says. “I was riding a colt and he spooked at a log. I brought him back around to face the log, and he dropped his head like he was coming to his senses, but before I knew it he was back around and in the air, and I was out before I knew he was bucking. I was buried in the stirrups and managed to kick them on the way down, and the stirrups and I stayed on the ground.”
    He also mentions a Canadian customer whose son was pole bending when the horse went down and the stirrups released.
   “All in all, we’ve had 247 customers call back to tell us that the stirrups worked and saved them from a wreck,” says Jake.
   For more information visit breakawaystirrups.com. Christy Martinez is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A member of the governor’s Cabinet who was a four-year varsity letter winner in NCAA Division One swimming is a recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Doug Miyamoto, who earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in rangeland ecology and watershed management in 1996 and 2001, respectively, now works on behalf of producers on Wyoming’s 11,000 farms and ranches as director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA).

“It is without question that Doug Miyamoto has distinguished himself in his professional life and put his degrees to good use,” wrote nominator John Tanaka, associate director of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station. “He exhibits the highest levels of integrity, stature and demonstrated ability.”

Service to Wyoming

Born and raised in Rawlins, Miyamoto is a second-generation Wyoming native. His family came to the state during World War II, having been “relocated” to the Heart Mountain Relocation Center between Cody and Powell.

His grandfather Tom Miyamoto attended the University of Wyoming on baseball and wrestling scholarships. He later served in Governor Ed Herschler’s Cabinet as director of the Wyoming Health Department.

Doug’s father Marty Miyamoto taught biology at Rawlins High School for more than 30 years, and his mother Karen Miyamoto served as a swimming teacher and coach in Rawlins for almost three decades. Like Miyamoto, who was the middle child, his two sisters attended college on swimming scholarships.

His wife Heather, also a UW graduate, is a kindergarten teacher at Saddle Ridge Elementary School in Cheyenne. She has taught five- and six-year-olds for more than 14 years.

Works collaboratively, garners appreciation

Miyamoto first earned the respect of USDA Agricultural Research Service soil scientist and adjunct professor Gerald Schuman, now retired, when Schuman was his thesis adviser.

Schuman says, “Every time I visit with a producer, commodity representative, agency head or agriculture producer group, I hear great things about Doug and his management skills, influence and enthusiasm about Wyoming agriculture and its programs.” 

“Doug is very well liked and has developed outstanding skills that enable him to work successfully with a broad range of people,” continues Schuman. “Whether it’s the stock growers, ranch managers, cultivation farmers, environmental groups or the public, Doug has been successful in working with these varied groups because of his integrity and the trust he has developed.”

Bret Hess, Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) director and UW professor, notes Miyamoto’s engaging style and mastery of complex subject matter, saying, “I have witnessed him provide meaningful testimony to a variety of audiences on subjects ranging from public safety and health to domestic/wild sheep interactions.”

Hess adds, “I have heard him brag about being a UW graduate in personal conversation and when delivering public speeches. He is a strong supporter of many of the college’s programs and events.”

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean’s Advisory Board is one of many boards and commissions on which Miyamoto serves at both state and federal levels.

Students at UW’s ACRES Student Farm appreciate the 2000 GMC Sierra pickup Doug and Heather Miyamoto donated to help them manage their large-scale composting efforts and other farm work.

“Without the truck, we wouldn’t be able to haul our produce to the farmers' markets or deliver to restaurants in Laramie,” says Betsy Trana, ACRES farm president. “It also gives students experience driving a large truck, which is a pretty important skill for any aspiring farmer.” 

This year, Miyamoto invited the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) to join the Department of Agriculture at state fair in Douglas for a reception to honor the department’s award recipients and celebrate the 125th anniversary of AES.

Gets along, gets things done

As director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, Miyamoto oversees the Wyoming State Fair Park and facilities and ensures agriculture and youth remain at the center of a fun and affordable experience.

During his tenure as deputy director of the Department of Agriculture in 2011-14, he reviewed every aspect of the annual fair and collaborated on a vision to revive the park and reinforce appreciation for Wyoming’s agricultural heritage.

Miyamoto manages an annual budget of almost $20 million and oversees operations that touch the lives and wellbeing of almost every person in the state.

He oversees quality assurance for food, animal feed, fertilizer and fuels sold within the state and inspections for meat plants, grocery stores, restaurants, pools, spas and daycare facilities. In addition, he coordinates weed and pest and predator and rabies control activities with local and federal government and works with constituents to develop policies aimed at keeping Wyoming’s third-largest industry strong and promoting and enhancing natural resources and quality of life.   

From 1999 to 2014, Miyamoto served in multiple capacities with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. He gained familiarity with natural resource and agriculture issues and policies, including Farm Bill legislation, Endangered Species Act reform, Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act issues, renewable energy strategies and regional conservation strategies.

On the other side of issues and policies are always people. Miyamoto has empowered citizens to write their own plans to address water quality impairments. He helped producers reduce agricultural runoff and determine and implement conservation practices to benefit their resource base and profitability.

Before heading the Department of Agriculture, he served as director and CEO of the Wyoming Livestock Board. This governor-appointed board and 120-employee state agency is responsible for protecting livestock interests from disease and theft. Its law enforcement, brand recording and inspection and disease tracing and monitoring components support the economic vigor and marketability of Wyoming’s livestock industry.

Through all his positions, Miyamoto has worked tirelessly to increase public awareness of the importance of agriculture, says Tanaka.

Professor Emeritus in ecosystem science and management Michael Smith has known Miyamoto since he was a student in his range soils undergraduate class. 

“I am pleased to add my support,” says Smith. “That he has accomplished this in a relatively few years is a testament to his ability to get along with people and get things done. He will continue to be an asset to Wyoming.”

This article is courtesy of the University of Wyoming.

Shoshoni – Young entrepreneur and recently married Jessica Sullivan is on her way to running her own operation at the youthful age of 19. Many people know Sullivan by her maiden name of Pingetzer, but anyone who meets her knows she is very passionate about farming and agriculture. 

Sullivan grew up on a farm and feedlot outside of Shoshoni, and this is the place she wants to continue to farm. 

“From a very young age, I knew I liked to farm,” says Sullivan. “I’ve always helped my Dad with the farm since I can remember, and it’s what I want to continue to do.”

Entrepreneur

Sullivan’s career began during her senior year of high school when she devised a plan to purchase her neighbor’s 350 acres to start her own operation. 

“I had to make a couple of different business arrangements to get the down payment money,” she explains. “Since then, I have obtained operating loans through a local bank, and I am working in conjunction with my Dad to work on his place and mine.”

Sullivan began a crop rotation on her farm because most of the farm’s acres were covered in old hay stands in need of replacement. She planted 160 acres of corn the last two years and has seen good profits from it. 

Along with tending to her corn, she also has wheat and alfalfa fields, as well as a small herd of 25 Angus cows – a herd that she started through her FFA Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) project. 

“I would show the animals and then keep them, as well as the replacement heifers from them,” describes Sullivan. “I’ve been able to grow my herd quite a bit since I first began, and I use the money from selling my calves to help with my operation.” 

Strip tilling

“We don’t utilize conventional plowing anymore,” states Sullivan. “Everything we do is minimum tillage or strip tilling for the corn. The strip tilling has helped with our inputs by saving three to four passes across the field, which saves on fuel and hours on our tractor.” 

Sullivan notes she hasn’t seen any decrease in crop yields by utilizing strip tilling. In fact, she’s noticed an increased population of earthworms and amount of organic matter in her fields. 

“The built up of organic matter helps contain the soil in our fields better instead of having it blowing elsewhere,” says Sullivan. “We are located right by Boysen Reservoir, and it’s really sandy here. Plus the wind likes to blow a lot.”’ 

Motivation

When asked what motivates her, Sullivan replies, “Everyday is different, and that to me is exciting. I never know when something is going to break down or what the day will hold.”

Sullivan chuckles when she mentions that even when she does make a plan for the day, the plan never goes as intended. 

“Being involved in agriculture also motivates me in that there is not a huge number of young people going back into production agriculture, let alone females in production agriculture. I’m definitely a minority,” she states.  

“However, I think it is fun being that minority to prove to others a girl can do it, too,” says Sullivan. “It’s just not guys in agriculture.” 

Finances

Like any business owner, Sullivan notes securing the financing and capital to start her own business is tricky. One of the ways Sullivan has been able to secure capital for her operation is by renting and utilizing her parent’s equipment.

“It takes a lot of capital just to get land – whether a person leases, rents or tries to buy their own,” comments Sullivan. “Then it takes quite a bit of money to operate the land.” 

One of Sullivan’s long-term goals is to take over her family operation. 

“My parents aren’t just going to give me their land and everything that they have,” explains Sullivan. “I’ll have to buy it from them, so they can retire off the money I give them to purchase the farm.”

“I’m nowhere close to being able to do that right now and operate everything,” says Sullivan. “Hopefully with the partnership between my Dad and I, he can slowly give me the reins, so it’s not a rapid transition.”

Advice

When asked what advice Sullivan would give a fellow young producer, she says, “It’s not always going to be easy, but it’s definitely going to be worth it. It’s also important to be humble and be willing to learn anything and everything because that’s the best way to go about trying to do something on your own.”

She reiterates educating the public is very important, and even one person can make a huge difference.

“Young people are definitely needed in agriculture,” she added. “Whether it be in production agriculture or as an ag teacher, we need to tell our story. It really bothers me some people think their steaks and milk come from the grocery store. They don’t understand all of the hard work it takes to get that food on their plate.”

Madeline Robinson is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


SIDEBAR:
Influences

“My parents, husband and the community around Shoshoni have helped and encouraged me to get to where I am today,” says Jessica Sullivan, a 19-year-old agricultural producer. “Being involved in 4-H and FFA fueled my fire for agriculture.” 

Sullivan was the Wyoming State FFA Vice President in 2012-13, and she notes FFA and 4-H tremendously helped her to meet more people in the ag industry and learn more about agricultural in general. 

“In 4-H I mostly showed steers and breeding livestock, specifically breeding cattle,” comments Sullivan. “Plus, I was involved in ag marketing, ag issues and livestock judging.”

Sullivan earned her agriculture business degree from Casper College. She notes, while accounting was one of her least favorite classes in school, it has ended up being one of the more beneficial classes she uses to manage her operation. 

“The business part of my degree has helped me to see different aspects of the industry that I was not aware of before that are very important in agriculture,” comments Sullivan.

 

Laramie – Rowdy’s Hope in Motion (RHIM) was started in memory of nine-year-old Rowdy Smallwood, who passed away after a tragic ranching accident in 2010.

“We were at our ranch, and he was trying to help his dad and the guys unload some big, 800-pound hay bales,” says RHIM President and Rowdy’s mother Stacey Smallwood. “One bale came off and landed on him.”

Rowdy was lifeflighted to the Children’s Hospital in Colorado, where he stayed for over a month.

“God had other plans for him,” comments Smallwood.

After being amazed at the support and generosity of the community, the Smallwoods decided to begin a non-profit organization to support other ranching, farming and rodeo families.

“We had so many people donate money to help us with whatever we needed help with at the time,” she says.

Smallwood continues, “The money we had leftover we used to start the foundation to reach out to other farm, ranch and rodeo families who have been in some kind of tragic accident of their own or have lost someone due to a tragic accident that has to do with farm, ranch or rodeo.”

Families

Over the last seven years, RHIM has been able to help approximately 14 families with various expenses.

“Our goal is to pick a couple families per year to support,” explains Smallwood.

Promotion of their foundation is primarily done through word of mouth, as well as through their website and Facebook page, with potential families either being nominated or contacted directly by the foundation.

“A lot of times people nominate families, or if we hear about them, we’ll reach out to them to see if there’s anything we can do,” she continues. “Families can be nominated through our website, too. Basically, the online nominations are emailed to us, and we get ahold of the family to learn their story.”

Smallwood reflects on the first family the foundation was able to assist.

“Our first big person that we’ve helped was Russ Weitl, a professional roper from California. We were able to help buy them a handicap accessible van,” she says.

  She comments, “We don’t really do a lot with insurance because we can’t touch helping with medical bills, but we typically will give families money to help pay for any of their expenses.”

Fundraising

The largest fundraiser the foundation has held to raise money for families was raffling off a Corvette, says Smallwood.

“We have done done raffle drawings in the past. One of our family members donated a Corvette, and we did a big huge raffle where we sold tickets all over for several months,” she says.

Now the foundation is established, RHIM raises money through an annual barrel race, with their seventh annual event scheduled for this year.

“Every year, we have a fundraiser event in Rowdy’s honor around his birthday,” comments Smallwood. “Our event is usually always held the very last weekend in June.”

She continues, “During the race, we do several fundraising activities to try and raise money for the foundation.”

Race

This year’s race is a commemoration of Rowdy’s 16th birthday, and the foundation is hosting a two-day event on June 24-25 in Laramie.

“The last two years, we’ve been able to host a two-day event, and we’re excited to be able to do it again this year,” says Smallwood.

The race will feature a wide variety of events, including barrel racing, pole bending, dummy roping, stick horse racing, exhibitions and a silent auction.

“We try to gear the event toward family, so kids can come and it can be a whole family event,” she comments.

This year, the top six competitors in each division will be entered to win a donated saddle.

The annual Spirit Award buckle will also be given away in Rowdy’s honor.

“We give the buckle to somebody who had some hard luck during the race, went out of their way to do something extra special or who showed really good sportsmanship,” explains Smallwood.

While entries are allowed up the day of the event, preregistration for the race ends on June 19.

“Prices vary depending on the event,” says Smallwood. “Those interested can go to our website and click on the entry form to find out more and to enter.”

Growing

Looking ahead, Smallwood notes their work is just beginning with RHIM.

In addition to Smallwood and her husband, the foundation also has board members to help plan and make decisions.

“We just barely started. We’d love to see RHIM grow. We hope to get more people involved so we can give more and grow,” says Smallwood.

She concludes, “It’s kind of been a slow, hard process, but we’re excited for the future.”

Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..