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Denver, Colo. – In a once-in-a-lifetime competition on Jan. 7, Wyoming 4-H member Kyle Despain from Laramie was selected as the 2018 Catch-A-Calf champion at the National Western Stock Show (NWSS). 

“Catch-A-Calf is one of the longest standing programs at NWSS and has been around for over 80 years,” says Catch-A-Calf Superintendent Molly Keil. 


To participate, applicants from Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas must be 4-H members between the ages of 12 and 18, notes Keil. 

“In January at NWSS, applicants participate in a rodeo performance where they have to try and catch a calf with their hands,” Keil explains. “The kids who catch the rodeo calves are then assigned a calf.”

After NWSS, participants go back to Denver, Colo. in May to pick up their calves, which they feed, train and raise for the next eight months until the next NWSS.

“Every contestant is required to maintain a record book and send letters to their sponsors every month, for which they receive points,” Keil states. “When they come to back to NWSS, participants are also awarded points for an interview about the program and how well they do in the livestock show, in both market and showmanship.”

Sponsors volunteer to buy the steers for participants and are typically individuals, families, business or supporters of NWSS and the Catch-A-Calf program, like the Elks Club, adds Keil. 

“The top two participants are chosen based on overall points for their record books, sponsor letters, interview and market and showmanship, and those youth sell their steers at the NWSS Junior Livestock Sale,” she mentions.


As the winner of the 2018 Catch-A-Calf program, Despain received a plaque and banner, along with the opportunity to sell his steer at the NWSS Junior Livestock Sale.

“I didn’t think I was going to win. I figured I had done well, but when I won, it was unreal,” stated Despain. “When my name was announced, my stomach dropped, I got butterflies and then ran over to my mom and gave her a big hug.”

For Despain, winning meant a lot because it showed how much work he had put into his steer and the competition.

“Three or four times a week I was washing and blowing out my steer to get his hair ready,” says Despain. “I put a lot of work into this project, and it was great to see all the hard work pay off.”

Jeff Vogel and Rawah Ranch were the sponsors Despain wrote letters to every month during the competition.

“In the letters to my sponsors, I told them about the progress we had made, like how much the steer had gained and how things in my life were going,” Despain explains.

In the competition, Despain placed first in his showmanship class, second in his market class, second overall in the sponsor relations, fifth in the record books, fifth in the interview and third overall in production.

“My Hereford steer was one of the smallest calves when we picked our calves up in May, but he turned out pretty good,” Despain comments.

Preparation and future

To prepare for Catch-A-Calf, Despain says he consulted with other people in Laramie who had participated in the competition before.

“A lot of people in Laramie had experience with Catch-A-Calf, so I referenced one girl’s record books who had won before,” he notes. “There were a lot of people who helped me during this experience, and I wouldn’t have gotten it done by myself.”

Despain believes Catch-A-Calf is an important program because, without it, some kids would be left out at NWSS.

“This program is one of the main parts of NWSS when it comes to involving kids and 4-H’ers. Most people who come to NWSS focus on the big shows and the high-quality livestock,” he states. “The hard work, determination and dedication the Catch-A-Calf exhibitors have are important to remember, too.”

Nine times out of 10, Despain would recommend other people participate in the Catch-A-Calf program.

“Catch-A-Calf is amazing and gives people the opportunity to compete, even if they’re like me. I have only shown one steer in my life,” Despain says. “I show lambs and pigs, but I took the chance and had a lot of fun.”

Despain mentions winners from year's past have come back and helped by handing out ribbons and helping kids, so he’ll be back next year at Catch-A-Calf.

In the future, Despain will run for Wyoming State FFA Office in April, and he will show lambs and pigs this summer at his county fair.

“In the fall, I will attend Casper College and pursue a degree in either animal science or agriculture education, while livestock judging,” he says.

Heather Loraas is assistant 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..

Fort Worth, Texas – During the Fort Worth Stock Show, held Jan. 17 through Feb. 8 at the Will Rogers Coliseum, Wyoming horse trainer Arianne Hagwood took home a first place win in the Mustang Magic event.

“The Mustang Magic is put on each year by the Mustang Heritage Foundation,” says Hagwood. “It is an invitation-only event where 25 trainers were invited.”

This year, 19 contestants showed during the event.

After being selected, Hagwood explains that previously unhandled mares are distributed to trainers by a random computer draw. The trainers are given 120 days to prepare the five- to six-year-old mares for competition.

“I was assigned a six-year-old strawberry roan,” says Hagwood, noting that the mare was gathered from the Beatys Butte, Ore. Herd management area. “I picked her up on our way back from the Mustang Million toward the end of September.”

Hagwood’s husband Tom won the Mustang Million earlier this year.

She began the process of training the mare, naming her Amy with plans to perform to Pure Prairie League’s hit song “Amie” during the freestyle final performance of the competition, providing they advanced to the top 10.

“After two days and four classes of preliminary competition, Amy and I were in the top 10, leading the competition by nine points,” Hagwood says. 

The first four classes included mustang maneuvers, handling and condition, compulsory and an obstacle course. 

The final event also consists of two portions – the compulsory class and a freestyle event.

“The competitor’s compulsory class carries forward into the finals and counts as 40 percent of the overall score,” she explains. “Basically, the class is a reining pattern where trainers are given 90 seconds to perform 10 maneuvers.”

The remaining 60 percent of the score comes from the freestyle finals. Of that, 30 percent is dedicated toward horsemanship, and 30 percent is awarded for artistic interpretation.

“Our freestyle run included some two-tracking at a trot, stops and turn-arounds before we called for and roped a yearling,” Hagwood says. “We won the finals by nine points overall.”

Hagwood was presented a check for $3,500, a buckle, a handmade saddle blanket and ribbon for the win.

Following the contest, each horse is auctioned to the highest bidder. After deducting a $200 adoption fee, which goes to the BLM, the trainer keeps half of the value of the horse. 

“Amy was also the second-high selling horse at $3,500,” she adds. 

“It was incredible for us to go back and win the very next Mustang Heritage Foundation competition after Tom and his horse Merv won the Mustang Million in September,” Hagwood comments. “It’s a great feeling.”

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..

Twenty-two teenagers, three adults and two program coordinators traveled to Samoa for several weeks in December 2013 through the American Youth Leadership Program (AYLP). 

Four of the teenagers were Wyoming 4-H members. They were Mary Schwope from Cowley, Laquisha Buffalo from Lander, Jaycey Lindsey from Wright and Quintin Migneault from Basin. 

The AYLP program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and Bureau of Cultural and Educational Affairs and is administered by the University of Wyoming 4-H Youth Development Program. 

“Individuals who are not in 4-H are still eligible to apply for this program,” says Kim Reaman, University of Wyoming 4-H volunteer development specialist. 

Learning opportunity

“It’s all part of the learning opportunity to see a different culture and to be immersed in it,” says Tara Kuipers, Northwest Area community development educator for University of Wyoming Extension. “We weren’t going to be part of a tour or just visiting villages. We were going to be living in villages with families who spoke very little English.” 

Kuipers adds, “We were also going to be eating very different foods and just have a completely different lifestyle for several weeks.” 

The participants were in Samoa from Dec. 11 to Jan. 3, and while there, they lived with a host family. 

The 22 teenagers were also matched up with a Samoan host brother or sister of the same gender and around the same age to be their host sibling at their homestay.  

“They basically became like a Samoan teenager for the weeks that we were there,” explains Kuipers. 

The homestays were divided among four villages that were within 45-minutes walking distance from each other. 

“There was one adult to groups of five to seven kids in the different villages,” says Kuipers. “They all stayed with different host families, but they were in groups according to villages.”


The AYLP program also has an educational component where participants compare cultural issues between the U.S. and Samoa. For the upcoming trip occurring in December 2014, the educational theme is nutrition and food security, with emphasis on obesity and diabetes, marketing and access to food.  

“Part of the AYLP application does ask about applicant’s interests in those areas and what they see as food security issues in their local communities,” comments Reaman. “They then can compare these issues across the western U.S. and in Samoa.”

A face-to-face orientation takes place in Laramie pre-departure to Samoa where the youth will be introduced to the educational theme and its three specific topics. 

After the trip the participants are also required to complete a follow-up project about their experience to Samoa and share what they have learned with their community. 


Youth applicants must be between the ages of 15 and 17 at the time of travel to be able to participate in the AYLP. They must also be a U.S. citizen who resides in the western region of the U.S. 

“We wanted a good, diverse group because we thought that would make a good impact on these kids,” explains Kuipers. “Not only were they going to have a cultural experience in Samoa, but they were going to have a pretty strong cultural experience when they were just together as a group.” 

Having diversity among the youth from the U.S. is very important to the AYLP, and there were delegates representing 11 of the 13 states in the western region of the U.S. at last year’s trip to Samoa.

“We try to get as many youth-serving organizations that we can,” says Warren Crawford, 4-H youth development specialist with University of Wyoming Extension. “We want as many kids from Wyoming as we can go, but we also make sure we have a pretty broad and diverse representation from the western U.S.”

“Having that diversity of participants from all across the western region adds such a richness to the experience for all the U.S. delegation,” comments Reaman.  

Lessons learned 

“The biggest thing, first, is an appreciation for differences in culture,” says Crawford. “Our number one goal is to open up the kid’s minds and give them some different perspectives to help them appreciate different cultures, settings and people.”

During their time in Samoa, participants did gain a deep appreciation for other cultures, as well as learn how to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. 

“There were moments where it was fun and interesting, but it was always really challenging,” describes Kuipers. “We had people that wanted to speak with us, but they didn’t speak English, and we didn’t speak very much Samoan.” 

“That is going to be a lesson that will carry through for all of our kids, as well as for myself,” says Kuipers.

Applications for the upcoming December 2014 trip to Samoa are due April 1 for both youth and adult participants. 

In addition to being able to travel to Samoa, AYLP also covers the costs of a passport, round-trip airfare, lodging, site visits, cultural activities and transportation in Samoa and accident and sickness protection for all participants of the program. 

Madeline Robinson is the assistant 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..

 Red Garretson retires after 45 years

Laramie - When asked what he’s done with his first week of retirement after 45 years as a Wyoming brand inspector, R.E. “Red” Garretson says not much, but he’s going to have to figure something out before he flunks retirement.
    “I knew someday the time would come to retire, and things are changing now with brand inspecting,” he says, noting computerization and health issues as two reasons he decided to step down at 70 years old; Garretson’s retirement officially began July 1.
    “Health issues have taken center stage and there’s quite a change coming about. I thought maybe it was a change somebody younger than me should get started on,” he says.
    However, change is one thing Red has become familiar with over the last four-and-a-half decades. When he first started inspecting livestock the Wyoming Livestock Board was the Wyoming Livestock and Sanitation Board, and it wasn’t even in charge of inspections, which were run by the sheriff’s offices until 1961. In 1965 the Wyoming legislature ordered the inspection of cattle on change of ownership, and inspectors began documenting sheep for the first time.
    “In 1990 the legislature changed the collection system – and brand inspections in general – because it became a producer-paid program,” says Garretson. “At that time we began to collect predator fees, which had been collected by counties. But, from then to now the everyday inspection has remained the same.”
    Born and raised at Elk Mountain, the only time Garretson has spent away from the area was his time in the military. “When I got out I went back to Elk Mountain to work on the ranch. The inspection program needed a little help, so as a young family man trying to make a living I worked as a part-time brand inspector and a deputy sheriff,” he says.
    From there Garretson took a job as a full-time inspector in Laramie and became district supervisor in 1979. In 1989 he was appointed Chief Brand Inspector, which became a Senior Supervisor position when brand inspections moved from the Stockgrowers back to the state.
    “It’s quite interesting, the amount of things you see and do,” says Garretson of his experiences out in the country. At the beginning of his career inspectors were able to make arrests, a time he calls “the good old days.”
    When the Peace Officer Standard Training (POST) Act came into effect in the 1970s, inspectors had to go through the law academy to be POST-certified for arrests, which Garretson did, enabling him to be certified for a number of years.
    “Back down the road I was involved in some rustling, and in just the everyday job duties a lot of interesting things happen,” remembers Garretson. “I’ve gathered up a few cattle butchers and several thieves in my career.”
    Garretson says as a brand inspector he would run about 35,000 miles in a year, and even more in his supervisor positions. “I’d inspect 40,000 cattle, and sometimes more, in a year, along with several hundred horses and several hundred sheep. In 1966 I was the only inspector in the area and I wrote a brand clearance every day of the year, holidays and all.”
    A pair of planks hanging on a wall in Garretson’s home holds the complete record of each brand he’s inspected, with total inspections listed by year. On June 30 he figured the final tally for his career, which equals 1,658,198 inspections as of June 30, 2008.
    In his retirement Garretson will still run his herd of cows on a piece of land north of Laramie. Of being available to give advice, he says, “I know the system and the state extremely well. I’ve been involved with a lot of changes that have transpired over the years.”
    “I’ve been through a lot of snow storms and a lot of dust,” he notes.
    Christy Hemken is assistant 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..