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Casper – The Oil City Ag Club and Casper College Rodeo Club sponsored the 2015 Casper College Ag Club and Rodeo Awards Banquet on May 5. 

This year, Casper College’s Ag Department is setting records, said the Department Head Heath Hornecker.

“We will graduate 48 student from the Ag Department on May 15 – a record for us,” said Hornecker.

Outstanding students

The Casper College Ag Department recognizes two sophomore students and two freshmen students each year for their work within the Department. 

This year, Luke Fuerniss and Tate Chamberlain were recognized as outstanding sophomore students. 

“Luke is an animal science major who is also involved in livestock judging,” said Marty Finch, agriculture instructor in the Casper College Ag Department, in describing Fuerniss’ achievements. “He has a 4.0 grade point average and is always the one who sets the curve, whether we are talking about scores in class or in our livestock judging contests.”

Finch mentioned that Chamberlain is also a livestock judging student who holds high expectations for himself and consistently has a positive attitude. 

“Other students look toward Tate as their role model,” Finch added. “I look forward to following his career to see his accomplishments in the future.”

Freshman class

As the outstanding freshmen ag students, Baxter Heinert and Quade Palm were recognized for their involvement in the college and their leadership. 

Todd Jones, also of the Casper College Ag Department, touted their accomplishments. 

“Baxter is an animal science major, a former Wyoming FFA state officer and a member of the livestock judging team,” Jones said. “She is very, very involved in the Student Senate. Baxter brightens every room she comes into.”

Jones added that Palm is one of the hardest working students in the department this year. 

“Quade is the first one to step up and the last one to leave,” Jones said. “He is really active and is involved as a student in every way he can be.” 

“We congratulate these students on their hard work over the past year,” Jones added.

Livestock judging awards

Casper College Livestock Judging was also recognized at the event. This year, 13 freshmen and a long list of sophomores spent the year practicing, traveling and judging livestock.

In recognizing the achievements of the livestock judging teams, an outstanding freshman and sophomore judging student were selected. 

“Dr. Burkett and I have the honor of working with these students all year long,” said Jason Johnson, assistant livestock judging coach and Casper College instructor. 

As the outstanding freshman individual, Tyler Pickinpaugh was selected. 

“I think everyone standing up here would agree that Tyler is definitely a leader for his team,” he continued. “He steps forward to work hard and pushes the entire team to not only want to do better in competition but to do better in life as well.”

Graduating sophomores

“We just finished up our year,” Johnson commented of the sophomore team. “I can’t say we had a banner year with our livestock judging team, but this group of students has the heart and try of champions. They have the will to win. These young people are going somewhere.”

Though it was a challenging year for livestock judging, Johnson commended students for their work ethic and their ability to continually improve. 

Fuerniss also received the award of outstanding sophomore judging student.

“Luke always pushed his teammates to be better,” Johnson noted. “There were times his teammates probably wanted him to quit setting the curve, but I guarantee every one of these students was made better as a result of this young man.”

In addition to being a Casper College Outstanding Sophomore Judging student, Fuerniss was one of 15 Academic All-American students from junior colleges across the U.S.

As a last recognition, the Big Heart Award was presented to Tate Chamberlain for his positive attitude and consistent ability to inspire his teammates. Chamberlain’s hard work and dedication to judging, his education and the Casper College Ag Department earned him the award.

Scholarships

In addition to student awards, Casper College also presented scholarships to their students.

“There are quite a few scholarship recipients this year,” Hornecker commented. “We are amazed at the amount of money we get to give away and the number of students we recognize each year.”

This year, there were over $60,000 in ag scholarships from the Casper College Foundation.

“We appreciate the work and help of our supporters and donors,” Hornecker added, “but we couldn’t do any of this without the hard work of our students.”

Look for the awards presented to the Casper College Rodeo Team in an upcoming edition of the Roundup. 

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..

Casper – Three years ago, Casper College purchased a property west of Casper with the intention of building a rodeo arena and utilizing the 167 acres of farm ground and associated buildings as an educational facility.

The original intent was to develop a rodeo arena for a practice facility, but the property also provided an opportunity to bolster academics by providing a field setting for coursework.

The property was dubbed, “The Ranch,” and students began attending courses at the facility. When the property was purchased, upgrades like emergency exits and public building requirements were necessary for the facility.

In late 2016, students learned they could no longer use the facility for classes, labs or practices.

Rumors spreading through the Casper College community surfaced that the facility would be sold in favor of other options, such as purchasing undeveloped land, for the use the college.

Trustees meeting

With rumors flying across campus and around the community, locals and students attended the March 23 Casper College Board of Trustees meeting to speak up about their viewpoints.

Jack Stewart, a Casper attorney and chairman of the Casper College Ag Department Advisory Board, said, “When the Board purchased the ranch campus, they showed real vision for helping the department to be vibrant, attract students to Casper College and to grow the community.”

“Let’s move forward with the ranch campus,” Stewart added. “The agriculture industry will continue into the future. We need to develop the ranch campus.”

Mary Owens, a rancher from north of Casper, commented that the agriculture industry is vastly important to Natrona County, and students need to have the opportunity to learn about the agriculture industry in a hands-on atmosphere.

“The opportunities out there are unbelievable,” she asserted. “What we have at Casper College in the ranch campus is something special. It makes Casper College different and unique. What an opportunity.”

Students also echoed Owens sentiment, stating that the ranch campus was part of the draw to attend Casper College.

Sophomore student Cheney Peterson said that the ranch campus provides students with a chance to get their hands dirty in learning, citing a meat fabrication course and the opportunity to learn about livestock and crops on the campus.

“The ranch campus is part of the reason I came to Casper,” she asserted. “I couldn’t help but see my life happening and see myself taking classes out there when I toured the campus. I couldn’t wait to get my hands dirty and learn from experience.”

Solutions

Burt Andreen, a civil engineer in Casper, explained that the obstacles cited in rumors may not be as big as they are portrayed.

“When the work was priced for the ranch campus, we priced a Cadillac,” he said, “but we should try taking this one bite at a time. Let’s break it down into baby steps.”

Andreen continued, “One of the big obstacles is the zoning. There is no education zoning in the county, so any property would have to also have a conditional use permit.”

He noted that the application for a conditional use permit is only $300.

Natrona County Building Official Jason Gutierrez echoed Andreen’s statement.

In addition, Natrona County Commissioner Rob Hendry said, “The Natrona County Commissioners have been involved since the beginning. When the college came to us and needed a road, we made the road a county road.”

“We’ve got a lot of money in this, and I think selling the property to buy a piece of land is the wrong way to go,” he continued. “If the college comes to the Commission, we will support a conditional use permit. We’d like the college to use the ranch campus.”

Andreen continued that building codes, such as installation of emergency exits, emergency lights and more, could be conformed to for a relatively small amount of money, which would allow Casper College to hold classes at the facility.

“If we look at this in small steps, doing small upgrades like panic hardware on the doors, we can make the facility useable today,” Andreen emphasized. “Let’s take small steps so we can use the facility today.”

One local businessman explained that the opportunity to help students learn in a hands-on manner is what businesses are looking for.

“Our most successful means of finding employees is from Casper College’s campus, and the ranch is the best way to create high-quality employees,” he said.

At the conclusion of the public comment period of the meeting, Casper College Board of Trustees President Matt Loucks commented, “We’ve had record attendance at this meeting. We’d like to thank the public for speaking up and voicing their concerns. Without public comments, it’s not a full board meeting, so we welcome participation.”

College statement

When the Roundup reached out to Casper College for comment on these rumors, they commented, “At this time, we are facing a significant funding challenge with the ranch campus and have to consider all possible solutions.”

They added, “One potential solution, and the one that raised the most concern, is to look at an alternative location should the current one prove difficult to appropriately zone or too costly to improve.”

The college additionally stated that the ranch campus would require a change in zoning, as well at $5 million in facility improvements to bring the building up to codes for a higher education facility.

“We anticipate another $5 million is needed for the rodeo practice arena, which is identified in the campus master building plan. Funding at that level is a key concern,” Casper College said.

Community members argued those figures were highly inflated.

Regardless of the assertions of community members and students, Casper College said, “We’re very proud of the Casper College agriculture programs, the faculty instructors, the rodeo team, clubs and their many achievements. We want to continue the strong tradition we’ve established in these areas of the college and will continue to evaluate all possible options with that in mind.”

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..

Laramie – With a new department head, new goals and fresh ideas on how to bring more opportunities to students, the UW agriculture education degree program has started a phase of rebuilding under the direction of new assistant professor in the secondary education department, J. Chris Haynes.
    “We are in a building year right now and instituting some changes that have been planned,” comments Haynes. “We’re a fairly small program trying to look at being able to provide teachers to the state and the United States.”
A new leader
    Haynes started at UW on July 15, 2011, after receiving his doctorate degree from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla. in agricultural education, communications and leadership. On receiving his bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, Haynes taught ag science and technology in Texas for 15 years.
    “I felt like I had something to provide to higher education,” says Haynes of his motivation for obtaining his doctorate degree and moving to Wyoming. “This is my first year here at UW, and it will be a good place to be.”
    Haynes adds that UW offers rigorous research responsibilities and the opportunity to work with a close-knit teacher base.
    “I appreciate that eventually I will know all of the teachers in the state, and I am enjoying the opportunity to meet everyone,” says Haynes. “The students here have also really exhibited a drive to excel in what they want to do.”
Opportunities for students
    Haynes describes the curriculum that agriculture education students undertake as rigorous and focused on teaching.
    “We emphasize very stringently and rigorously the components of teaching in the content areas that they have chosen,” he says. “Their curriculum offers six different areas of emphasis.”
    Students choose to concentrate on animal and veterinary science, agroecology, rangeland ecology and watershed management, soil science, agricultural communication and leadership or agricultural business, based on their personal interests.
    The program also offers membership in the national professional honorary agricultural education organization Alpha Tau Alpha, to emphasize professional development.
Making changes
    The UW ag education degree program is continually developing with the goal of providing more opportunities for students.
    “In addition to receiving a teaching certificate in ag education, we are looking at making changes so students can receive a certificate in biology,” explains Haynes. “This would provide an opportunity for students attending smaller high schools to receive a science credit through ag or opportunities for the teacher to teach biology, as well.”
    Haynes adds that the addition of a biology certificate would provide opportunities for small schools that have fewer faculty members.
Building numbers
    “We want to build our numbers and be able to provide students with skills that will benefit them, not only in the state of Wyoming, but nationally or internationally,” comments Haynes of the program. “We also want to provide them some opportunities to accomplish their desires in those areas.”
    The program currently serves 39 students, and with a total of 48 agriculture education programs in high schools throughout the state, Haynes notes that UW is a good resource for potential hires at school through Wyoming.
    “We have a moderate amount of students now, and we are looking to increase that drastically over the next few years,” he adds.
    “Agriculture education at UW is alive and well, and we are really sincere about providing opportunities to those students that will allow them to excel,” says Haynes. “We provide a rigorous program with a little bit of a change in direction from where we were. We will keep with some of the things we have done in the past and provide some new outlets to be able to experience and benefit them from the future.”
    Saige Albert 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..

Kearney, Neb. – Growing up on a beef cattle operation and being a competitive showman in 4-H, Railen Ripp never expected to have a career working at John Deere. As a college student at the University of Nebraska, Ripp decided to spend one summer at home showing cattle. She found an internship working at the local John Deere dealership. 

“The second day I was there, they had an opening come up in the parts department, and I got put there,” she said. “I didn’t know much about parts, other than the few I went to pick-up for dad and grandpa.”

Ripp told nearly 50 students at Career Day at the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic that the internship changed her career path. She found she enjoyed working with customers and, after college, obtained a job with John Deere as a territory aftermarket sales manager. 

Finding opportunities

“I found it is important to try everything and keep an open mind,” Ripp told students. “We may take a lot of wrong turns before we find the right path.”

“Students should find someone they admire and aspire to have their job someday and seek them out for advice. Ask them to share their knowledge,” she added.

A panel of 12 professional in various agribusiness fields discussed how they found the opportunities that led to the careers they now have. 

One of the best recommendations the panel had for students was encouraging them to pursue internships or volunteer work before they graduate from college. Many of the panelists had internships, which helped them find the right career path.

Clint Lambrecht of Merck Animal Health did everything from mowing lawns to riding with an animal health rep. 

“Try anything and take something from it,” he advised. “I can honestly say, to this day, I learned something from each internship I had.”

Randy Lenz, a district manager with Purina, said most companies would like to have their interns apply with their company after they have finished college. 

“The ones we hire who didn’t have an internship with us cost us double their wages the first year of employment,” he explained. 

Starting

Aliesha Dethlefs, who now works for the University of Nebraska as a 4-H and youth programs specialist, says career fairs are a good place to start. 

“Don’t be afraid to walk around and talk to people. Networking and talking to the right people is important. We never know what opportunities may arise from the impression we left on someone,” she said.  

Randy Dorn, a sales manager with Allflex, added, “Don’t be afraid to show good work ethic, willingness to work hard and are willingness to learn. Show that you have a passion for what you want to do.”

Opportunities

When applying for a position, most applications are online. 

“There is no one-on-one contact, and many times employers don’t even know our name, they just see a résumé,” Ripp said. “It is important to find ways to separate ourselves from the crowd.”

Lenz said, when he is looking at resumes, he pays close attention to all the opportunities the prospective employee has taken advantage of. 

“Were they in 4-H and helped their younger brother and sister? Were they active in clubs and organizations in college? Did they volunteer? All of those things will come out during a job interview and make that person stand out,” he said. 

Interviews

One student asked the panel how to get potential employers to hire someone who doesn’t know how to do something. 

Taylor Ruether, area manager for BioZyme, responded, “When potential employees ask if an interviewee knows how to do something during a job interview, what they are watching for is the response and their willingness to learn.” 

During the interview process, the panelists agreed interviewees should be confident but not arrogant, and they should leave any distractions like cell phones and Apple watches in their car. 

“People interviewing should also research the company on the internet, and if they have a website, click on every link,”  according to Lambrecht. “Have some questions ready for them. Even if an interviewee doesn’t meet every single job requirement they have listed, don’t be intimidated.”

Lambrecht also said interviewees should let prospective employers know they are willing to learn.

“All employers will ask during a job interview if there are any questions for them,” Ruether said. “They want the interviewee to ask them a question. The best thing to do is some research and come up with a predetermined question.”

Ruether even encouraged students to write down their question, if they are afraid of forgetting it.

Making a pitch

Chuck Wilcox with Alligare told students to remember that, during a job interview, they are trying to sell themselves to the company, so they should ask their interviewer questions like, “What is the biggest challenge with the company?”

He continued, “Show an interest in their company and in them. It leaves a good impression. If they are truly interested in hiring someone, to a point, they will also be trying to sell their company to that person.”

Ronette Heinrich, the manager of the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic, told students leaving a good impression is important, even if they don’t get the job. 

“We never know when a closed door will open again,” she said.

Gayle Smith is a correspondent 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..

Laramie – On Sept. 26, Wyomingites from across the state will gather to celebrate the 2015 University of Wyoming Ag Appreciation weekend in Laramie.

      During the weekend, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources will honor five people and organizations that have been influential in its success.

Outstanding alumni Ken Hamilton of Laramie and Bud Christensen of Gillette will be recognized for their extensive work in the industry.

At the same time, the Research Partner of the Year, Anadarko, and Andrew Vanvig Distinguished Professor KJ Reddy will be acknowledged for their work for the college. Read more about Anadarko on page 4. A profile of Reddy’s work is featured on page 5.

The college will also honor the John P. Ellbogen Foundation as its Legacy Award winner. The Foundation’s efforts will be detailed in next week's Roundup.

Events for the weekend kick off with the annual Ag Day Barbeque, which benefits the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ student organizations. The barbeque will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. inside the Wyoming Indoor Practice Facility at the southwest corner of the Fan Fest area under the Cowboy Joe Club Tent.

Prices are $12 for adults, $5 for children 6-12 and free for ages 5 and under.

Following the barbeque, UW Ag Appreciation Weekend fans are invited to attend the Cowboys vs. Florida Atlantic football game, which kicks off at 1 p.m. in War Memorial Stadium.

For more information on UW’s Ag Appreciation Weekend or to purchase tickets for the football game, visit uwyo.edu/uwag.