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With the question of interstate meat shipment continually coming forward in the state, the UW Meat Lab has put together a proposal to expand the current facility so it could be used as a pilot plant for people looking to move toward selling meat commercially.

“Our current facility is state of the art, though it is creeping up on 30 years old,” said Warrie Means, associate professor at the University of Wyoming. “Our facility has a slaughter floor, a fabrication floor, a processing room, a sales room and associated offices, coolers and freezers, as well as a smokehouse.”

While the lab is top quality, Means added that it is designed for teaching and research – not to be used as a pilot plant.

Current activities

Currently, the UW Meat Lab functions primarily as a teaching facility.

“We do a lot of teaching in the Meat Lab,” Means commented. “Last year, we killed 60 head of cattle for research projects.”

For some of the research projects being conducted at UW, Means noted that meat samples have to be pulled immediately following slaughter, so enzymes do not degrade the mRNA in the meat cells. For this reason, slaughtering research animals in a commercial plant would not be feasible. 

“Our plant is designed for research and teaching,” he emphasized. “There has been some talk and studies done about building a pilot plant in the state of Wyoming that ranches and producers could use to develop new products or market Wyoming beef.”

The facility, Means said, ranks in the top 20 percent of facilities across the country.

Pilot ideas

Right now, Means noted that the Wyoming Department of Agriculture Consumer Health Services division inspects Wyoming meat plants. However, because they aren’t USDA inspected, products cannot be shipped interstate.

“There has also been a lot of discussion over the last 20 years about changing our state inspection systems to be equal with the federal system,” he explained. “While our system is the same as, it is not considered equal to the federal inspections.”

Additionally, older meat plants within the state would likely not meet requirements for processing plants without huge, expensive investments and remodeling efforts. 

“We are talking about building a plant in Wyoming that could be used to develop and market products,” Means said.

Making modifications

“So what would it take to modify the UW Meat Lab to work as a pilot plant?” asked Means. “We put together a proposal about what it would be necessary to get us started.”

The proposed facility is a 9,720 square foot facility with added coolers, preparation areas and freezers.

“We need more coolers and freezer space, a full kitchen to develop recipes and make processed products, a larger cooking room and dedicated coolers and packaging for cooked products,” Means noted.

“We think we would need more area in the plant to accommodate increased volume of product and the number of people that would want to use the facility,” he said.

Means also added that concern in the meat industry about cross contamination between cooked and raw product would require more area to ensure separate space for both. 

A loading dock would also be added to ship product out. 

Cost estimates

To accomplish the proposed expansion, Means noted that approximately $2.4 million would be required to upgrade the structures and rooms in the facility.

“We would need equipment to put in those rooms, and that comes in at $633,000,” said Means. “One time costs would be about $3 million.”

Additionally, approximately $81,000 in continuing personnel costs would be necessary.

Economically, Means also noted that the offal and carcasses provide another challenge.

Challenges

The idea of a pilot plant also introduces several other challenges.

“There are things that are going to have to be worked out on the production end,” Means noted. “We can’t afford to keep meat in the freezer, and we need cattle year round.”

Many cattle, said Means, are ready to kill at the end of May, but students at UW complete their semester the beginning of May.

“We also have to buy cattle to use for teaching because we need cattle every two weeks,” he said. “Plus, UW’s cattle are too similar. In teaching, I want fat cattle, muscular cattle and thick cattle to show the differences.”

While in its infancy, Means said they will continue to look at studies and the feasibility of expanding the UW Meat Lab and establishing a pilot plant at the facility.

Means presented at the 2013 Wyoming Stock Growers Association Winter Roundup, held the beginning of December in Casper. Saige Albert 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..

At the 2013 SRM contest in Oklahoma, UW junior Katy-Jane Angwin placed 20th out of 260 participants in the Undergraduate Range Management Exam (URME). This secured her a spot in the top 10 percent of contestants with her score of 72.6 percent. 

Angwin, originally from Bishops Stortford in England, came to the United States in 2009 where she started her academic career at Northwest College in Powell. In 2012, she transferred to UW to continue pursuing her degree in Rangeland Ecology and Watershed Management. 

“I am passionate about agriculture and fascinated by the land and all it can do for us, so [a major in] Range was a pretty easy choice,” Angwin said, “I know that rangelands are a very fragile thing and need to be preserved, but I don’t think this means that they can’t be used.”

The URME, a test given at the SRM competition, is the same exam given to certify range specialists. It is comprised of 300 questions that have to be answered in a strict two hour time limit. The questions, written and submitted by professors all over the United States, are pertinent problems that will be faced in the field, such as stocking rates and eco-regions. 

Colleges from all over the nation went to Oklahoma to compete for the top spot at the contest. There were also teams from Alberta and Mexico vying for top honors out of the teams in attendance.

“The fact that I scored that high and ranked in the top 10 percent means I am a qualified Range Specialist now,” she said “There are other things that I have to do to get certain levels of qualifications, but I will never have to take that exam in a practical sense again.”

Angwin is following a winning legacy established by UW, which has one of the most respected rangeland ecology programs in the nation. 

At the 2012 contest, Sage Askins, a recent graduate from UW, earned the highest URME score on record – 81 percent. The team also placed second overall that year. 

Angwin plans to stay in field of rangeland ecology after she graduates and is contemplating a Masters or PhD in Rangeland Ecology. 

“My biggest interest is the actual ecology side of range. For example, how the range land interact with the wildlife and agricultural producers. I really like seeing how the three mesh together,” she said. “Wildlife is a huge part of range management. You have to manage your land to leave some for the wildlife but still have some for production agriculture. Everything needs to be sustainable.”

Kelsey Tramp is an intern for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

San Antonio, Texas – Bursting clay pigeon targets and burning gunpowder are not uncommon sights for members of the University of Wyoming’s Shotgun Sports team. 

Members of the UW Shotgun Sports team have a dedication to the sport of shooting year-round and have been participating in collegiate competitions since last September to prepare themselves for the big finale of collegiate shotgun competitions – Nationals. 

“Nationals is the Super Bowl of collegiate shooting sports,” says Scottie Melton, vice president of the UW Shotgun Sports team. 

ACUI Nationals

The Association of College Unions International (ACUI) hosts Nationals, and this year will be the 46th year the Collegiate Clay Target Championships have been held. 

The competition event will be held at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio, Texas from March 25-30. The UW shooting team will be competing against 65 other collegiate schools across the nation. 

Events competitors will partake in are American Trap, American Skeet, Five-Stand, Sporting Clays, International Skeet and International Wobble Trap. 

“Attending Nationals means a lot to me. It shows what I’m capable of and how I rank in standings nationally,” says UW Shotgun Sports team President Tanner Thorfinnson. “It’s also very prideful to be able to represent the university in such a big way.”

Team members

The UW team is bringing 15 members to Nationals, and the members competing were chosen on the top 15 shooting percentages of the team. These students also must be in good academic standing with the university to be able to attend.

“We check grades after final grades have come out in December of fall semester to determine the members that go to Nationals,” explains Thorfinnson. 

Funding for the UW team to travel and compete at Nationals came from a grant from the Wyoming Friends of the NRA. 

Collegiate shoots

The UW team has competed in a number of collegiate level events prior to Nationals, including events in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and additional practice in Kerrville, Texas. 

Shotgun Sports member Russell Davidson won the sporting clays event at Colorado State University’s Ramvitational shoot in October 2013, and he also won the sporting clays event at the ACUI Upper Midwest Conference Championships in November 2013. 

“For me, in particular, it means a lot to go to Nationals because it’s another avenue that I can go down,” comments Davidson. “Being in pharmacy school, it’s nice to get outside and meet other shooters from different schools and representing the university is always something not everybody gets to do.”

“It’s a privilege to come out to Nationals and have UW’s name on our back,” adds Davidson. 

Thorfinnson received Men’s High Overall All (HOA) award at Oklahoma State University’s Cowboy Shootout competition and won the Men’s Skeet and Five-Stand events at CSU’s Ramvitational. 

Melton placed fourth overall at Mizzou’s Tiger Open in early March. 

Practice events

The team spent March 23-24 at the Hill Country Shooting Sports Center in Kerrville, Texas to have additional practice, particularly more practice with the international events that will be part of the events at Nationals.  

“The complex in Kerrville has hosted selections for the Olympic shooting team,” describes Davidson. “They are very well equipped to throw all sorts of targets in all events.”

International events differ from the American events in that the targets are thrown at a faster speed, and the shooter must have their gun held just above their waist before they call for a target in International Skeet. 

There can also be a delay in the target being thrown in International Skeet. 

In International Wobble Trap, the targets are thrown at more severe angles than in American Trap, and the shooter is allowed to shoot two shells, if need be, per target thrown. 

“Kerrville is a get-away place for all of us where we can go shoot when we want, and there’s no pressure to be able to move more lead down range without the pressure of a competition,” describes Melton. 

Melton adds, “It eliminates the school factor and allows us to work out the kinks, rather than just going to practice every week and shooting a full round.”

Ready for Nationals

“Going to Nationals for me shows what I can do on the field and shares that there is a lot more to shotgun sports than a whole bunch of people with guns getting together and burning through a lot of shells,” comments Melton. “It shows shooting competitively has a purpose and that everything we do goes back to the team.” 

“When I look at teaching other kids and the new members of the team how to shoot, I hope that maybe I can have an influence on them. It’s awesome to me to be able to play a key role in getting other people started,” adds Melton. 

All of the UW shooting members are feeling prepared to go to Nationals, and Melton adds, “We are as ready as we can be.” 

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..

Laramie – Beginning in 2010, a group of young women at UW decided there was a need for a beef promotion group on campus.

“There was a group of girls who were primarily agriculture and animal science majors that decided they all had a general interest in the beef cattle industry,” says UW Assistant Professor in the Department of Animal Science Kristi Cammack, who advises the Wyoming Collegiate Cattle Association (WCCA). “They heard of other groups that sprung up across other universities and decided to start one of their own.”

After advertising across campus, the group soon discovered that more young women were interested in beef cattle, and the Wyoming Collegiate CattleWomen Association was born.

In 2012, Cammack notes that the organization decided to also open its door to male members. 

Today, the Association has changed their name to the WCCA, and they unite college men and women in their love of beef and the cattle industry. 

Membership

“I think they will keep growing,” adds Cammack. “It is a good group for incoming students to be a part of to get in and see what type of ag major and what opportunities are available.”

The group encompasses students of a wide variety of majors – not just students in animal science.

“There are students from all over the ag college involved,” she notes. 

“As they keep building their membership, the voice of WCCA continues to grow,” Cammack comments. “I like to see these students providing a service and reaching out to students who don’t necessarily know about cattle.”

WCCA, she adds, is making an impact across campus.

Activities

WCCA stays active on campus to encourage the maximum impacts. 

“They do youth programs and talk to classes about beef cattle production, and they take students on tours,” says Cammack. “They also have a barbeque every year on campus.”

Their annual barbeque, held on Earth Day in conjunction with the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity, is the group’s largest event and provides an outreach opportunity.

Stuart Thrash, president of WCCA this year, notes, “The Earth Day barbeque is one of our biggest events.”

During the event, the student groups serve hamburgers to college students, faculty and community members for free.

“Everyone on campus and the whole community is involved,” says Thrash. “It is a great event.”

They also take the opportunity to educate others about the beef industry.

“When students are in line for their free hamburger, WCCA members talk about the beef industry and give facts and figures about beef,” explains Cammack.

By meeting twice monthly, the WCCA stays involved in top issues and events in the beef industry and organize new events.

Student perspective

Thrash says, “We are here to promote the beef industry for consumers and help people who don’t understand what the beef industry entails.”

One of the most important aspects of the organization, he notes, is continuing student education opportunities.

“We also try to further our knowledge by doing a couple of trips each year,” he says. “We try to visit different beef operations to get exposure.”

Last year, for example, students visited JBS’ facility in Greeley, Colo. and travelled to Darnall Feedlot in Nebraska to learn about those aspects of the beef industry.

“This year, we are looking to have a couple more trips,” says Thrash. “We are working to learn about different operations and different techniques that they use.”

Goals of the organization

The WCCA is looking to continue to grow and be an active part of the beef industry in Wyoming. 

“We are trying to move the club into being more affiliated with industry organizations,” says Thrash, noting they have begun reaching out to organizations such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Wyoming Stock Growers Association.  “We should be in cahoots with these people to further the industry.”

This year, noted Thrash, they are also working to fundraise to send several WCCA representatives to NCBA’s annual conference in Tennessee in February.

In fundraising, the organization offers “I Heart Beef” t-shirts for sale, featuring the Wyoming bucking horse logo.

“We are moving forward and continuing to grow,” says Thrash. “We want to make a difference in the industry.”

Saige Albert 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..

The Make-A-Wish Foundation runs out of a central office in Casper, and their staff of five works hard to accomplish their goals and meet the needs of young people through the state who qualify for a wish.

“As a staff of five, it would be nearly impossible for us to cover the entire state and reach all the children who are referred to us,” says Tess Kersenbrock, community relations coordinator with Make-A-Wish Wyoming. “Without volunteers, we would not be able to grant Wyoming wishes.”

Volunteer roles

Most of the volunteers with Make-A-Wish are called wish granters. Wish granters work directly with families.

“Our volunteers do the initial meeting with families, which we call a wish visit, to get to know the family and the child a little better,” Morgan Legerski, Make-A-Wish Wyoming CEO, says. “They talk through the paperwork and visit with the child about what their wish is or help them brainstorm ideas for their wish.”

Volunteers also help in coordinating wish enhancements, which are extras added by Make-A-Wish Wyoming to make the child’s wish special.

“We always try to do something fun, which we call a wish enhancement,” Legerski comments. “It might be a send-off party or a limo ride to the airport, but our volunteers are important in helping to coordinate those things.”

Volunteers also donate their time and skills to help Make-A-Wish Wyoming raise funds necessary to grant wishes.

Legerski adds, “We wouldn’t be able to grant 35 wishes a year in Wyoming if we didn’t have volunteers. It wouldn’t be possible.”

Becoming a volunteer

The volunteer process with Make-A-Wish Wyoming is straightforward, involving an application, interview, background check and training.

Kersenbrock comments, “Individuals over the age of 18 are able to volunteer.”

She further notes that wish granters or other volunteers who work with children must complete and application, interview with staff members and a background check, as well as several trainings.

“Beyond the basic requirement of becoming a volunteer, it is equally important that an individual is invested in our mission and willing to be creative,” Kersenbrock explains. “A wish is not a single experience but a life changing event. It is important that those who are interested in volunteering with our organization truly share this belief.”

Volunteers in Wyo

The 60 volunteers across the state of Wyoming all share a passion for Make-A-Wish, and they give their time to making wishes of seriously ill children come through.

“As a volunteer, we really get the fun part and the whole experience, getting to meet kids and their families and really exploring their life,” says Shantel Anderson, a volunteer from Laramie. “We get to find out what’s going on, how treatments are progressing and then get to delve into the fun of the wish.”

Bonnie Aksamit of Ranchester, another volunteer, adds, “It’s very rewarding to be a wish granter. It’s nice to do what I can to see kids’ wishes come true.”

Anderson adds that wish granters have the opportunity to help children determine what their wish will be.

“We coordinate and send that information into the office, and the ladies in Casper do the hard work of making the wish happen,” she says. “We get to be involved in the fun parts, putting the specials touches on, revealing the wish and putting on parties for them. This is the fun side.”

Ag connections

“According to statistics from our national office, we know we are not reaching about half of the eligible children in Wyoming,” Kersenbrock adds. “That means that for every referral we receive, there is a child we are missing.”

She continues, “Wyoming is a large, rural state, and it is because of our 60 volunteers across the state that wishes are possible.”

Anderson, who was raised in the ag industry, says, “There’s a lot of children who have wishes that relate to the ag industry. Kids want to ride horses, visit ranches or other things.”

“The ag community as a whole also tends to be very giving in nature, and they focus on being part of a community,” she says.

Need for help

With about 30 wishes pending in the state, Kersenbrock notes that the need for volunteers continues to grow.

She adds, “At this time, we are specifically looking for volunteers in Lander, Riverton, Rock Springs, Green River, Cody and Gillette, though we can benefit from new volunteers in every community.”

Aksamit explains that there are volunteer options available for people who have lots of time to spend with the program, as well as those who only have a few hours a year.

“In the last year, I’ve probably helped grant five or six wishes,” she says. “Normally, it’s closer to two or three, and for each wish, I spend 10 to 12 hours total with the families.”

She also comments, however, that there are opportunities to be involved in planning special events, helping with fundraising and other opportunities.

“Volunteering is really rewarding,” Aksamit notes. “It’s not a lot of time out of my day or my month or my year, but it’s really fulfilling to see kids’ faces light up.”

She also notes that it is important to have enough people to help out.

“I live in Ranchester, but I go as far as Buffalo to help grant wishes,” she comments. “If we go to a child’s home, there must be two wish granters, so more volunteers would be helpful.”

“It’s great to work with kids, and it’s fun to see what they wish for,” Aksamit adds. “Make-A-Wish is a really wonderful organization to be involved with.”

For those considering the chance to volunteer with Make-A-Wish, Anderson says, “Just go for it. There is nothing to lose by being a volunteer, and there are so many options for people to consider, depending on how much time they have. Everything makes a difference in these kids’ lives.”

Kersenbrock adds, “We especially want to thank those who help us and encourage others to consider giving their time and energy to Make-A-Wish Wyoming.”

This is part two of a three-part feature on Make-A -Wish Wyoming. Look for part three in the Dec. 3 paper, where we will look at one child's wish.

Saige Albert 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..