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Osage – Jennifer Womack feels a special connection to FFA and says she was fortunate to have an extended involvement in the program in her youth.

  “I joined FFA as a seventh grader,” says Womack. “I attended Sundance High School, and being a small school, we essentially started high school as seventh graders. I had the opportunity to be an FFA member for six years.”

Womack took her experience as an FFA member and has used what she learned to inspire her career.

As an FFA member

“I went to my first Wyoming State FFA Convention as a seventh grader in Cody,” continues Womack. “As a young person, I had never experienced anything like that.”

She attended every convention for the next seven years. 

“Mr. Dick Hubbard, my ag teacher, opened many doors of opportunity for me over the years,” says Womack. “He passed away late October, and I attended his services just one day before boarding a plane to the 2013 National FFA Convention. At his services there were many of us who graduated from his program and are enjoying the lifelong benefits of his teachings. He spent 42 years teaching in a community of a little over 1,000 and through that work managed to make an impact all across the country as his students went out into the world.”

Womack says that her supervised agriculture experience (SAE) also inspired her college degree.

“I attended the University of Wyoming and studied in an area related to my SAE,” she explains. “I studied agroecology with an emphasis in entomology, and when I found an interest in communication, I picked up a second degree in ag communications.”

After graduating Womack says she quickly transitioned into a career at the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, where she worked for 10 years. 

Back to FFA

“I didn’t maintain a lot of FFA involvement during college,” says Womack, mentioning that she did attend a couple state FFA conventions representing the UW College of Agriculture as an ag ambassador. “After I worked for the for the Roundup for a while, I received an invitation to join the Wyoming FFA Foundation as a board member.”
During her time as a board member, Womack notes that the FFA Foundation decided to start the Wyoming FFA Times, a quarterly newspaper that provides a venue to share the message of the Foundation and highlight projects being done by FFA members around the state.

In 2009 Womack expressed an interest in carrying out work on behalf of the Wyoming FFA Foundation and approached the Foundation Board of Directors with an offer to provide services.

FFA Foundation

Womack worked for the Foundation for a year from her home in Douglas before she and her family moved to Osage.

“The Wyoming FFA Foundation operates under the mission ‘to support the Wyoming FFA and ensure the program’s ability to continue making a positive difference in students’ lives by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education,’” says Womack. 

“In my role as Foundation director, we’re in charge of doing all we can to maximize the opportunities available to young people through agricultural education and the Wyoming FFA,” she continues. “We accomplish that in a variety of ways. While many Foundation solely exist to raise funds, we also carry out several programs and events like the upcoming tour and hosting the career fair at the Wyoming FFA Convention.”

Programs

The Foundation’s most fundamental program is their voucher fund, which provides funds for FFA members who are unable to afford an FFA jacket.

“It is our belief that every FFA member should have their own jacket embroidered with their own name, chapter name and top pins marking their performance in the program,” explains Womack. 

Additionally, the Wyoming FFA Foundation supports those FFA chapters who qualify to compete at the National FFA Convention at the end of every October.

“With support from generous donors we contribute to the travel expenses for the dozen or so teams who travel to the National FFA Convention to compete on behalf of our state,” she says. “We also make funds available for classroom infrastructure and community service projects carried out by Wyoming FFA chapters.”

For example, Womack says the Foundation has purchased equipment such as a miter saw for a chapter using outdated equipment, welding helmets, powder coating systems, GPS units, classroom and laboratory equipment, greenhouse facilities and equipment for livestock handling facilities. “We’ve even bought some sheep for Kaycee’s school farm,” she says.

“We believe that the presence of those tools in the classroom can help our young people master career skills and explore different fields to help them solidify plans for their future,” she explains. 

Opportunities for youth

“For the last three to four years, the FFA Foundation has grown, and that is really exciting for us because growth in the Foundation equates to growth in our ability to have a positive influence on Wyoming’s young people,” Womack says. 

She emphasizes that world population growth provides incredible opportunities for students.

“We are entering a time in Wyoming and American agriculture where opportunities are extremely abundant – and that is not to make light of the challenges the industry faces,” Womack says. “What we do as an industry is extremely important, and I think the American public is starting to realize that.”

“We are doing great things to get young people ready for those careers to be able to meet the challenges that lie ahead for agriculture and our country as a whole,” she continues. “We believe the young people coming out of the FFA program are up to the challenge.”

Ranch work

Aside from her work with the Wyoming FFA Foundation, Womack also works on her family’s cow/calf ranch outside of Newcastle with her husband Chris and their sons Bryce, 15, and Joshua, 9.

“When we decided to move back here, it was because agriculture is a lifestyle we love and a lifestyle we wanted for our family,” says Womack. “We owe my parents a big thank you for all they’ve made possible. They laid the foundation for what we’re doing and invest a great deal in ensuring our success. I hope we can work hard, make smart decisions and do the same for our sons. We’re also very appreciative of my sister and brother-in-law, Matt and Erin Pzinski, who frequently help with the boys when schedules get hectic.” 

The positive impact that agriculture has on her children is important to Womack, who notes that the lifestyle offers opportunities and experiences not found elsewhere.

She is regularly involved in the activities on the ranch, all while running Sagebrush Marketing.

Business opportunities

“I operate Sagebrush Marketing from the ranch,” she adds. “We have designed our lives to do everything we love to do.”  

Sagebrush Marketing, says Womack, is involved in a variety of marketing activities for a variety of customers.

“We do the marketing for the Converse County Tourism Board and the events, marketing and fundraising for the Wyoming FFA Foundation, for example,” she explains. “We are a full service marketing and graphic design company that tailor-fits our services to meet our clients’ needs.”

Womack also marks that Tracy Alger works for Sagebrush Marketing and is an integral part of the team.

“Tracy does an outstanding job on our graphic design and she’s willing to pitch in on just about every project we tackle. She’s been an outstanding partner in reaching our goals with Sagebrush Marketing,” Womack notes. “I admire her passion for young people and agriculture. She frequently volunteers her time to events that spread agricultural knowledge. She’s also created many posters and publicity items for events that benefit agriculture or people within the industry in need of a little boost.” 

At the end of the day, Womack is involved in a number of ag activities and continues to be an integral part of Wyoming’s agriculture industry, starting with the youth who will serve as the next generation of ag leaders in the nation.

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..

Wooster, Ohio – Laura Nelson is a young professional who grew up in Wyoming and works for Certified Angus Beef’s (CAB) as an Industry Information Specialist within their supply and development division.
“I went to high school in Pine Bluffs and graduated in May 2009 from UW with my Communication and Journalism degree with an emphasis in agriculture. I started college at Laramie County Community College (LCCC) in Mass Media,” explains Laura of her education.
“I was an NCBA intern in college, and that was a direct result of my year spent as a National Beef Ambassador. Being an Ambassador tuned me into the great opportunities for students through NCBA. While working at the NCBA convention I met some folks at CAB, and that led to an internship in their Public Relations and Marketing Division between my junior and senior years of college,” says Laura of how she first became involved in the company.
“I really enjoyed that internship, and continued to do some freelance work for CAB during my senior year of college. Their Supply Development Team, which I had never worked with, saw some of my writing and said they had a position open if I would come to Kansas. So I went to Kansas after graduation, and there I was,” comments Laura with a laugh. “It was really the result of being a Beef Ambassador and that long list of internships.”
From Kansas, Laura moved to Wooster, Ohio with CAB, where she is currently based. She explains that most of CAB is focused on consumer marketing, and working with food service professionals, chefs, retailers and distributors. However, the Supply Development Team, of which she is one of three people, focuses on working with cattle producers, CAB-licensed feedyards and industry professionals to help develop a supply of cattle that meet CAB quality specifications and branded product requirements.
“Our job is to supply information to the beef industry. To do that, we write, and about 50 percent of my job is writing. We send out news releases and stories, and supply context to the Angus Journal, Angus Beef Bulletin and other Angus-oriented publications. We also do radio and some other audio releases,” says Laura.
“The other half of my job is dissemination of information to the beef industry. We put on educational events, and help our CAB partners with their marketing and advertisements. As their partner, we help develop ads and provide them access to our creative resources,” explains Laura.
She just returned from Amarillo, Texas, where she planned, promoted and organized a one-day educational seminar for feedyard managers and owners. “There were about 75 guys in attendance. Doing events is fun because it’s always diverse and something different,” comments Laura.
“I went to school for writing, and it’s what I love and have always wanted to do. But the diversity of being able to work with more people in the marketing and event planning components of my job allow me to have more human interaction, too,” comments Laura. “Writing is a fairly solitary occupation by itself.”
She lists the people she’s met and the places she’s traveled as some of the most memorable aspects of her job to date.
“There are people I interview and write stories about that I get so attached to, and I get so excited and passionate about telling their stories. Sometimes I really connect with people and their story,” says Laura.
“I grew up on a ranch, and my idea of what ranching is came from how I grew up. I have a specific idea of cattle ranching because that’s what my family does. But then I go to a ranch in Arkansas to do a story on an Angus breeder, and his ranch management, his business plan and everything else looks completely different because he’s in a whole different environment and ball game than what I grew up in. To visit these different people and learn about their production systems, and to see the diversity of the cattle business all over the nation, and then to share those stories is so exciting to me,” notes Laura.
“I meet all these people who ranch in these completely different environments and backgrounds, and I’ve found that at the heart they’re all the same good, salt of the earth, wonderful cow people.  I always want to write these epic novels because I meet these people and am so excited about sharing them with everyone else,” comments Laura.
She lists being so far away from home as one challenge of her job.
“I miss Wyoming and home. But I couldn’t ask for a better job. To work for a company like CAB right out of college is wonderful. It’s a great company to work for, and it’s nice to have found a career that I truly enjoy; enough to make up for it moving me so far away from home.
“It’s comforting that I can be clear out in Ohio and still work with people from across the country on a daily basis. This winter I’ll be at the NCBA convention in Denver, working with some of the same people I did as a Beef Ambassador, just in a different way.
“I still get to work with folks I’ve known all my life that are in the cattle industry, and I really do enjoy seeing so many fun places and meeting so many great people,” she says.
Heather Hamilton 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..

Story — America and rodeo have seen a tremendous amount of change since Tommy Kuiper, a World War II veteran, rode into the arena at the first ever College National Finals Rodeo held at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, Calif. in 1949.
    When 84 contestants from 14 colleges and universities in nine states gathered for the first ever competition, Harry Truman was in the White House and gasoline was selling for 17 cents a gallon. Like many of his fellow contestants at the event, Kuiper had returned from World War II and was attending college on the GI bill. His high school sweetheart and wife of 61 years, Velda, whom he courted with notes in typing class, worked as a telephone operator while he was in college.
    “College rodeo and professional rodeo owe a debt to these men. They brought a maturity and depth to the sport that has served it well,” says Sylvia Mahoney, former rodeo coach and author of “College Rodeo From Show to Sport.” Mahoney is a founder of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Alumni. Participants of the 1949 finals, as well as those from other years ending in “9,” will be recognized on June 19 and 20 in Casper at the 2009 CNFR.
    Honorably discharged from the Navy in June of 1946 after time aboard a Navy Destroyer in the Pacific, Kuiper says he began college that fall at what was then Colorado A&M. Studying animal husbandry with plans of attending school to become a veterinarian, he says he instead returned to the family ranch upon graduation in 1950. He and Velda spent the next 32 years ranching north of Kaycee where they raised their two daughters.
    Competing in bareback riding, bulls and the wild cow milking at the 1949 event, Kuiper recalls, “The rodeo club voted on who went to the finals. It was mainly who could go. You didn’t really have to qualify like you do these days.” Kuiper says it largely came down to who could afford to make the trip.
    “It was kind of like coming home for me,” he recalls. “The Cow Palace is at Hunter’s Point in San Francisco and that’s where our ship was tied up when we came back to the States during World War II.”
    While he’s been around horses his whole life, Kuiper says he didn’t rodeo until he went to college, where he was also a member of the livestock judging team. In addition to the events in which he competed at the 1949 rodeo finals, he also roped calves. In the late 1940s he won the all-around saddle at the Colorado A&M Rodeo. Unlike today, Kuiper says there weren’t many opportunities to win a saddle.
    Kuiper and two of his team members took a car to California while a roper and a steer wrestler on the team hauled their horses to the rodeo. Borrowing horses from teammates was quite common at the time. Those who did bring horses arrived in cars or pickups pulling small trailers and Kuiper says some were still hauling their horses in stock racks. “Things weren’t very fancy,” he laughs.
    “At that time, most towns of any size had a rodeo string around. When you went to a rodeo, there were good ones and bad ones….all the way from practically impossible to runaways.” He recalls, “Some of those horses were hay horses in the hayfields and they brought them to town to buck when the rodeo came to town. They were pretty good sized horses.”
    The 1949 CNFR, says Kuiper, was the first rodeo he attended where there was stock from multiple strings. “They topped the strings and they were plenty tough,” he recalls.
    When he wasn’t at college rodeos, Kuiper traveled to the numerous community rodeos. After returning home to Johnson County his time in the rodeo arena lessened, but he judged some rodeos and served a time as arena director at the rodeo in Buffalo.
    Most of his attention was focused on the family ranch where he and Velda raised Black Angus cattle and, for 15 of their 32 years on the ranch, sheep. Today they spend their summers in the Story area and the winters in Arizona.
    Jennifer Womack is managing editor of 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..

“Ranch versatility gives a place for real, working ranch horses to showcase their talents,” says Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska Stock Horse Association (CoWN) Board Member Laura Edling.

Edling has been actively involved with CoWN since its creation in 2010.

Getting started

According to Edling, ranch versatility originally started with the American Quarter Horse Association, which limited the horses that could compete to registered Quarter horses.

“There were several associations that started their own ranch versatility associations, with the purpose of showcasing a working ranch horse,” she says.

After working with an association called Stock Horse of Texas Association and traveling to Texas for shows, a group of ranch horse showmen from throughout Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska decided to start their own association.

“We started the association in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska because that’s where we were. We wanted to start the association because we had a need to be able to showcase these kinds of horses,” states Edling, noting that the horses are not strictly reiners or cowhorses but fit into all of the disciplines.

Classes

Edling explains that there are four general classes participants can compete in, including ranch pleasure, trail, reining and working ranch horse.

Ranch pleasure primarily judges the horse’s willingness to listen, its ease of going and how the horse moves.

In addition to traditional obstacles, such as bridges and gates, ranch trail also includes obstacles that would be typically encountered on the range, such as dragging a log to simulate dragging a calf to the fire.

“Then, we have reining, which is guiding these horses through a typical pattern of doing small circles at a lope, large circles at a lope, spinning, stopping, sliding stops, reversing, all of those things, showcasing the willingness of the horse to perform the maneuvers and their ability to be guided in a calm manner,” she says.

Working ranch horse is the cattle portion of the contest, with maneuvers dependent on the division the horse and rider are competing in.

“For the novice division, the rider goes in and boxes a cow for a minute on one end of the arena,” comments Edling.

As riders progress to the non-pro and open divisions, they are required to box a cow, turn it on the fence and to either circle the cow or rope it.

User friendly

“The nice thing about the way this association organizes classes is we really pay attention to graduating people and finding a place where riders feel comfortable and like they can show well,” says Edling.

A top priority for CoWN is to be welcoming and easy to navigate for all levels of participants.

“We’re really concerned about being user friendly and not scaring people away. We want people to show their ranch horses at whatever level they’re at,” she explains.

A unique feature of the association is they also host ranch horse clinics before each show.

“At every single show, we offer clinics, which allows people to come in, get a taste of ranch versatility and play with their horse under the guidance of professionals,” comments Edling.

She continues, “We want people to know, even if they’re not willing to go to the show level yet, they can try what we do at our clinics.”

Looking ahead

A goal CoWN is currently working toward is providing opportunities for members to build the value of their horses through points systems in the show circuit.

“Up until this last year, there was no nationally recognized affiliate that recognized the money and point earnings these horses were getting in our association, and that has now changed,” Edling explains. “That’s one of the things we’ve doing, and we’re really looking to go forward with.”

As they move forward, Edling notes the association is looking to increase both Wyoming and Nebraska participation.

“I think that what we do is prime for the horses and people in Wyoming,” Edling says.

She concludes, “We’re really trying to help spread the word about the association because we do cover a large area. We want shows outside of just Colorado, but that takes participation and people who want to help put those shows on, too.”

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..

Laramie – In addition to setting new policy and installing new leaders for 2017, Wyoming Farm Bureau (WyFB) honored the recipients of the Friend of Farm Bureau and Distinguished Leadership Awards during their 97th annual meeting, held in Laramie Nov. 10-12.

Friend of Farm Bureau

WyFB nominated retiring Congressman Cynthia Lummis, Sen. Mike Enzi and Sen. John Barrasso to the American Farm Bureau Federation for the prestigious Friend of Farm Bureau Award.

“I am standing in front of people who have provided me wise counsel and good guidance, input and ideas, thoughtfulness and have been great stewards of the land, the water and the air in our beloved state of Wyoming,” said Lummis.

Lummis commended WyFB and Wyoming agriculturalists for their dedication to caring for Wyoming’s heritage and resources.

“This organization is special because it’s comprised of people who care so very deeply for our state, do as I, and we will continue to work together throughout our lives to continue that wonderful tradition of Wyoming being the most exceptional, most wonderful state in which to be involved with agriculture, to raise a family and to have a small business,” she said.

She expressed her appreciation for the support and guidance that the WyFB has given her during her service in the legislature.

“To have guidance and wise counsel and to be with WyFB means a great deal to me,” said Lummis. “Family and faith go together with this organization and agriculture. I salute this organization. Thank you very, very much.”

Selfless

WyFB recognized Crook County President and Northeast District Vice President Frank Hawken as the recipient of the 2016 Distinguished Leadership Award.

WyFB President Todd Fornstrom explained that Hawken has been involved with the WyFB throughout his life.

“He has served the Farm Bureau in every capacity from the local president to staff for the WyFB,” said Fornstrom.

Hawken’s work ethic set him apart and is an example to those that he is leading, continued Fornstrom.

“He is the epitome of a servant leader, always leading by example and working hard to achieve any goal,” he commented.

In addition to Hawken’s service to the WyFB, he also is actively involved in other local organizations.

“He lends his leadership to numerous local service organizations and causes. He is always quick to volunteer and does so graciously. Frank’s unselfish attitude makes any organization he’s involved in flourish,” concluded Fornstrom.

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.