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Laramie – The agriculture community across the state of Wyoming provides tremendous support for the University of Wyoming (UW) College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Pepper Jo Six, major gift officer with the University of Wyoming Foundation, says she provides a conduit to help people determine where their giving can make an impact for UW and bettering opportunities for students.

Endowments make the biggest impact by creating a sustained source of income for a specific project. Endowments can be created to fund student scholarships, professorships, research expenses and Dean’s Excellence Funds. 

“For example, a gift of $25,000 creates an endowment that initially produces approximately $1,000 of annual income to be applied to uses important to the donor,” Six explains. “The larger the gift, the more annual income for expenditure is created.”

Initiatives

Six, who works with the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, says the college is working on several new efforts.

“One of the initiatives we are currently working on is a Sheep Industry Proposal,” she explains. “We are looking to raise a $1 million endowment to spin off $40,000 per year for sheep-specific research.”

This initiative came about from two sheep producers seeking a way to help improve the availability of funding for research.

“They asked what they could do 8to step up and contribute toward sheep research,” Six says. “So, in addition to their personal contributions, they rallied other sheepherders to set a goal of raising a $1 million for this project.”

This endowment allows the college to prioritize and fund sheep-specific research, which is important for the state and producers, strengthening an industry for the generations to come.

There are a variety of options for contributing to the endowment, and Six explains that she is happy to discuss options with anyone who is interested.

Wildlife and natural resources

“We also have the Wildlife-Livestock Health Center, and we’re trying to raise $10 million in an endowment to ensure important research funding for the center,” Six says. 

The Wyoming Wildlife-Livestock Health Center is important to two of Wyoming’s major industries – tourism and livestock production, which are both dependent upon maintaining healthy animal populations in Wyoming and the surrounding states. The center is one-of-a-kind worldwide. It is focused on the health and ecology of wildlife and large domestic animals, and basic research is intricately tied with applied research in the field.   

“Because of our investments in faculty and students, UW is fast becoming a world leader in this area,” Six adds.

  The Wyoming Restoration Reclamation Center (WRRC) is also another area that UW is working to fund through endowment dollars. The mission of the center is to promote natural resource production and healthy ecosystems in Wyoming by facilitating reclamation and restoration of sites impacted by natural resource development.

WRRC educates new professionals, provides and confirms new information through research and addresses concerns from industry, government and the public.  

“In fact, WRRC is instrumental in providing important data to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on land reclamation and sage grouse habitat restoration efforts in Wyoming to assist with their decision not to put the sage grouse on the endangered species list. They also provide data to big petroleum companies for reclaiming land and making sure it is restored in the right way,” Six says.

Student engagement

In addition to scholarships, Six notes that the UW Foundation emphasizes several efforts focused on student engagements.

“The SEND program provides money for students to go to national annual meetings,” she explains. “For example, if a student is part of Range Club and wants to go to the national Society for Range Management meeting, they can apply to have the registration for the event funded.”

Six continues, “We are also advocating for students to represent the UW College of Ag and provide professional development.”
The program is championed by alum Tom Davidson, who also supports the Cowboy Joe Handler program. Davidson is passionate about allowing students opportunities that benefit them professionally and will have a long-lasting impact.

“Beyond the Classroom is a separate student engagement program focused on supporting international travel for students,” Six adds. “It supplements what UW does to fund international study for students, allowing less of a financial burden for students who seek an international education experience. In an increasingly global economy, we want UW students to have an international experience and apply what they learn when they come back home. ”

Mutual benefit

Six explains, “I take all of these projects, meet people around the state and see if I can pair their passion with one of our efforts. I provide the conduit.”

“People give based upon their passions,” she says. “My job is to help make people aware of the opportunities that are available.”

With the myriad of ongoing projects at UW, Six says there are lots of opportunities available, and she is happy to provide proposals or information on any program.

The funds position the UW College of Agriculture as the top scholarship provider at the University of Wyoming.

“What we provide our students is amazing,” Six says. “As a land-grant institution, our job is to provide education and research opportunities that will help producers,” she continues. “If other individuals or organizations would like to discuss collaboration or gift possibilities, we welcome an opportunity to visit.”

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 – Each year an Australian meat judging team of 10 college students travels to the U.S. to compete at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colo. Prior to that competition, the team visits four U.S. colleges for team practices.
Those four colleges include the University of Illinois, Oklahoma State University, Colorado State University, and the University of Wyoming (UW), which is the final practice stop.
“Every year Australia invites one U.S. college to an international meats judging contest held in conjunction with a conference in their country. We were the fourth team to be invited; the other U.S. practice schools went the three previous years,” explains UW Meats Judging Coach Lander Nicodemus.
UW was one of nine teams to compete in this year’s contest, which was held in early July.
“We did really well, and were the second place team overall. We also won the lamb class, questions and reasons and primal and retail identification classes,” notes Nicodemus. In addition to faring well as a team, UW individuals made a strong showing. Brogan Clay placed second overall individually and won the retail and primal identification class, while Wade Allnutt won the reasons and questions class.
“We went over there not knowing what to expect and we practiced hard. We didn’t win, which would have been ideal, but we made a good showing. The team we traveled with prior to the contest won, so if anyone else were to win, I was glad it was them,” says Allnutt.
The team says there were some unique aspects to the contest not seen in U.S. meats judging competitions.
“The main difference was they had a retail and primal identification line. Basically, we had to be able to tell if it was a T-bone steak or a lamb chop or a side of bacon. They also combine our quality and yield grading system into a whole carcass evaluation. What we use as a scale of select, choice or prime was a number system,” notes Clay.
“They didn’t split the hog carcasses like we do, and the style was a little different. In the U.S. we have to declare our team of four prior to the contest. Over there, everyone got a shot at being one of the four scoring team members. We took six, and everyone walked in and competed and the top four scores made up the team,” adds Allnutt.
“Learning in those areas with which were unfamiliar was pretty challenging, and then to win in several of them was very gratifying,” says Nicodemus.
During the conference that hosted the contest, speakers from Cargill, JBS and other major meat-related companies spoke on Australian agriculture and the world marketplace as a whole.
“They discussed what changes they felt Australia could make, and what their strengths were. It was very educational to hear those individuals speak,” notes Nicodemus.
Team members agree the contest and conference were great aspects of the trip, but only one part of the entire experience.
“We ended up traveling for 20 days. For the first part of the trip we went to a few ranches and farms. Toward the end we went to more dairy farms, Angus stud farms, Boer goat operations and a place that raises 20,000 head of Moreno sheep,” says Nicodemus.
The Moreno sheep operation made a big impression on all attendees.
“We went to one station two days after the contest and learned a lot about wool production and just how in-depth you can take it. This guy’s entire flock was on a computer system. Each ewe had her own micron measurements in a database, in addition to every lamb she had. I don’t know much about wool production, but I’ve never seen anything like that over here” says Allnutt.
“The same guy runs 1,700 cattle on the side of his sheep operation,” adds Clay.
“Most of his wool goes into the Italian market and is used to make Armani suits,” notes Nicodemus.
Learning about the differences in agriculture production practices between Australia and the U.S. was another experience the team enjoyed.
“It’s interesting to see the differences within the beef industry alone. They are in a drought and can’t really grow corn, so they have to do what they can in terms of meat quality with those limiting factors,” says Clay. “They will slaughter animals a couple months, or more, earlier than we do. We feed them out on corn, but they don’t have that luxury, so they keep consistency in their product by slaughtering earlier. That keeps the meat brighter with more eye appeal.”
“They will eat meat of a lower quality grade and sacrifice flavor to ensure there is less fat. It’s an aspect of consumer appeal, which is a big deal there,” says Clay.
“We could probably learn some things from their agriculture practices, and they could learn from us as well,” comments Allnutt.
Nicodemus notes that, historically, the U.S. teams have taken a “winning and winning alone” approach to the trip.   
“It didn’t sound like previous U.S. teams gained much comradery with businesses and individuals. Our team formed several relationships with other teams, organizations and businesses. I feel that long-term that will be very beneficial to our team members,” he says.
“I knew the first day it was going to be a great time. We had Murdoch University as our host school and there were about 20 of us total. They definitely showed us some of the better sides of Australian humor and took us around to some cool operations,” notes Clay.
“I thoroughly enjoyed Australia and it was definitely an opportunity of a lifetime and we all learned a lot. There’s so much to tell about it, someone could probably write a book,” adds Allnutt.
“It was a unique opportunity and we were really impressed with the experience,” says Nicodemus.
For more information and photos from the trip visit uwmeatsjudging.blogspot.com. 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..

Laramie – With students searching for options to develop hands-on skills in their coursework, the University of Wyoming has responded by developing a new course that allows students to put on a bred heifer sale.
    With changes to the UW breeding programs and student interest, the course was developed in Spring 2012.
    “Our goal is to showcase UW cattle and bring some producer notice to what we are doing here at the university,” says Allison Meyer, one of three faculty members who teach the course.
    “We especially wanted to give students the opportunity to have the hands-on experience of helping to organize a production sale while also allowing them to meet important people in the beef industry in Wyoming,” she adds.
Getting started
    In the course, 14 undergraduate students and one graduate student were placed in six different groups, all related to hosting a sale and Cattlemen’s Day.
    Along with Meyer, UW Extension Beef Specialist Scott Lake, UW Associate Professor in Animal Science Paul Ludden and UW Beef Unit Manager Travis Smith are involved in teaching the class.
    The six groups include sale management, cattle, facilities, sale catalog, advertising and hospitality and Cattlemen’s Day, each of which in integral in developing the sale.
    “We meet once or twice a week to bring everyone together and figure out what we need to do next,” says Meyer, noting that her background in purebred cattle helps her to answer questions. “Scott Lake is dealing with producer consigners and industry contacts, and Travis is overseeing  the heifers and facilities.”
    She adds that students are an integral part in each aspect of the sale.
    “We do a bunch of different things in class, but coming together to figure out where we are in getting the sale together is a big part of it,” says Cameron Irons, a UW senior in Animal Science who is taking the course.
    Irons also says, “Getting the word out is the most difficult part – that is our biggest focus right now.”
    “I think because we are the first class to go through, we are doing some experimenting. None of us, as students, really know exactly what to do,” she says.
    The course instructors’ extensive sale experience, however, is helpful.   
    “It has been great to see how well students have responded to this class,” Lake says.
    “They have really worked hard, and I think they have gained a tremendous appreciation for the hard work required to put together a production sale, he continues. “This group of students has really laid the foundation for future classes and an event that hopefully becomes a tradition. We really hope we get a good turn out to help support the program.”
Cattlemen’s Day
    To further add to the sale, a Cattlemen’s Day with be held on the morning of sale day.    
    “During the viewing time from 10 a.m. to noon, we will have a Cattlemen’s Day,” comments Meyer. “We have our sponsor booths, as well as a few graduate students and people from the department to give educational demonstrations.”
    “The Cattlemen’s Day will also have a tour of the facilities,” comments Irons, also mentioning that the time to preview cattle will be available.
    A free lunch will also be provided at noon between the Cattlemen’s Day and the heifer sale, and everyone is invited.
Future developments
    “We would like to make it a two semester class, with one semester as a leadership component,” explains Meyer. “The leadership component would feature tours, speakers and leadership development activities in the beef industry.”
    She adds that, thus far, the class has worked to build confidence in the students’ abilities.
    After the sale is complete, Meyer says students will be asked to review the event and make comments on what went well and what can be improved. They will also receive credit for a final report on the components of the sale they were responsible for.
Preparing for a sale
    “In addition to UW heifers selling, we have six consignors from Wyoming,” says Irons.  
    There will be a total of about 60 high-quality bred heifers sold at the sale, with about 45 from some of the top producer in the region.  
    “The bred heifer market is not quite as good as it was this time last year, but it is still holding pretty strong,” says Lake.
    “Feed costs this year makes things difficult, but I think there is still a lot of optimism about future cattle prices, and this sale is a great opportunity to purchase some quality replacement females,” Lake continues.   
    Meyer also says that they are prepared and optimistic about the event, hoping that they see lots of buyers turn out, as students have worked hard to prepare.
    “Things have gone really well,” she adds. “This is the first year, so it will be the hardest, but we think everything is on track for the sale.”
    The UW Bred Heifer Sale will be held on Oct. 13 at 1 p.m. in the Hansen Arena in Laramie. For more information, contact Scott Lake at 307-766-3892 or Travis Smith at 307-399-7674.
    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..

Out of eight competitions this year, the University of Wyoming (UW) Meat Judging Team placed no lower than fourth, taking reserve three times as well as a first-place finish.

“We were very competitive all year long,” says UW Meat Judging Team Coach Zeb Gray.

This year’s team holds three of the top five highest team scores in UW history, as well as the records for beef grading and specifications.

At this year’s International Intercollegiate Meat Judging Contest in Dakota City, Neb., the team earned a perfect score in specifications and took home the reserve national championship.

Judging

Similar to livestock judging, in meat judging, students judge different classes, such as carcass or primal cuts, and rank four exhibits from first to last. Contestants must write up their justifications for their rankings, based on both economic and scientific principles.

“Generally, the carcass or cut that is going to win the class is worth the most amount of money and the one that goes last is worth the least amount of money,” he comments.

Gray also mentions, “We judge beef, pork and lamb, and beef by far counts for the highest amount of points in the contest.”

Specifications

Students also compete in specifications, in which they determine the quality of sub-primal meat cuts.

“They have to know anatomically whether that cut is cut properly to specification. Generally, with one cut, there will be seven or eight different specifications that have to be met, and the student has to know the anatomy of a carcass to say whether it meets these specifications or if it has one or more defects,” Gray continues.

Specifications are important in the meat industry because customers expect uniformity in their food products.

“If a supermarket calls and orders ribeye rolls, they want those ribeye rolls to be very similar to their last shipment and to their next shipment, so they want them to be cut properly. That’s a big part of our industry,” comments Gray.

Team members

Students who compete on the UW team first take a fall semester introductory class to learn about the principles of meat judging. They may then choose to join the team and judge competitively for the university.

“If they decide to judge, the first contest is at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colo. Once they start judging, they only have one calendar year of eligibility,” he continues.

Over the past three years, the team has grown from five, to seven, to nine members who have completed the year, and Gray notes that he would like to see even more participation.

Future value

“Meat judging looks really good on a résumé for a lot of the same reasons livestock judging looks good on a résumé. Employers know that students are dedicated enough to stick it out for the full year. They were also able to be part of a team, and they were put in some pretty high pressure situations where they had to make decisions,” Gray says.

The food industry is also one of the most rapidly growing industries in terms of employment, and meat judging helps students become more employable.

“Basically, anybody that I’ve had come off of a meat judging team who wants to work in the meat or food industry has had no problem getting a job,” he adds.

Achievements

Gray competed on a meat judging team as an undergraduate at Iowa State and is now pursuing his PhD in meat science at UW. He coaches the UW team, assisted by student John Lacey.

This year, team member Taryn Chapman of Canon City, Colo. broke the top UW beef grading record. McKenna Brinton of Jackson was top 10 in three different contests and now holds the third highest individual score ever posted by a UW meat judger. Eli Lindsey of Taylorstown, Va. was named to the All-American team, and Beth Lenz of Wray, Colo. scored in the top 10 in four different contests and became a Second Team All-American.

“The All-American selection is based on a judger’s performance throughout the whole year,” Gray notes, adding that prior to this year, only two other UW students have been named to the All-American Team.

BW Ochsner of Torrington was also in the top 10 at six different contests and holds the highest individual score and three of the top four reason scores ever posted by a Wyoming judger, in addition to being a First Team All-American.

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

Spokane, Wash. – The Society for Range Management (SRM) Annual Meeting draws an international audience and provides the opportunity for students and range management professions to connect professionally, says Jeff Beck, Rangeland Wildlife Habitat Restoration Ecologist at UW, adding that over 130 UW alumni, students and friends attended the event, held Jan. 28 – Feb. 3 this year.
    “They have a really well organized technical program and all kinds of sessions and symposiums on all rangeland issues, from grazing to wildlife habitat to rangeland monitoring and assessment,” Beck comments. “The event covers all the issues that people deal with everyday.”
Student contests
    Students from UW were involved in a number of events at the meeting, including poster presentations and contests. Participants competed in extemporaneous speaking, the undergraduate range management exam, the rangeland plant identification contest and a poster competition.
    UW student Ben Jones received the first place prize in the undergraduate extemporaneous speaking contest, and UW received second place in the Rangeland Cup.
    “The Rangeland Cup looks at examining complex issues in range management,” explains UW professor Tom Thurow.
    Sage Askin of Douglas also received top honors at SRM, walking away with the first place prize in the undergraduate range management exam.
    “It is a very difficult test, and he got an 81 percent,” says Beck of Askin’s performance. “Students are asked to do calculations and a lot of higher order thinking about concepts. He did really well.”
    Beck adds that of 23 UW students who took the test, the top three scores are added together for a team score, and UW took second place as a team. Twenty-five teams competed in the event for a total of 203 students.
    UW students also put together a poster presentation that included a video, receiving third place for their efforts.
    “The Trail Boss award is given to the university with the most points from all of the events,” explains Beck. “This is the first year that the award has been given, and UW won.”
    Master’s student Megan Taylor also received honors for her oral paper presentation titled “Rehabilitation seeding and soil dynamics associated with invasive species in a semi-desert sagebrush shrub land.” She placed first out of 27 participants.
UW leadership
    UW senior Travis Decker of Craig, Colo. was nominated as the Vice President of the SRM Student Conclave, as well.
    “The Student Conclave is the organization that helps students and the SRM combine efforts and work together to get activities planned for the students,” explains Decker. “We help to run and plan the events.”
    “Vice President is a new office this year,” adds Decker, who says he has big goals for the year, including increasing student involvement at SRM.
    This year, Decker notes that Sheridan College and Casper College attended the meeting for the first time, and UW’s team did very well.
    Decker says, “I really wanted to make sure that Wyoming was still a leader, and I’m excited to be a part of this program and to help out where I can.”
    “It was a great opportunity to attend the SRM annual meeting, and I encourage any students who are interested to contact the Range Club to find out more information,” he adds.
Faculty achievements
    UW’s faculty was also honored at the event. Thurow was selected as the Range Science Education Council’s Undergraduate Teaching Award winner, which is the top teaching award in the profession. Thurow is a professor at UW and has been at the school for 11 years.
    “It’s a great, heartfelt honor to have received the award,” comments Thurow. “I’ve written a lot of letters of support for people over my career and am always extremely happy to do that. It is humbling and a great honor to have that process proceed through with the students and faculty writing letters on my behalf.”
    He also praised UW’s students a range management program, saying, “Our students were contenders and winners across the whole spectrum of components association with the SRM exams.”
Range management at UW
    UW had the most students present at the meeting, and Thurow adds that they also proved to be some of the best informed and educated students.
    Range management at UW has grown to reflect that in the last ten years, according to Thurow, who notes, “We are now the biggest range management program in the world.”
    “It is really gratifying to see how much progress we’ve been able to make over the last 10 years,” explains Thurow. “Our enrollments have consistently increased, and the quality of our students have consistently become stronger. We are now recognized as a leader in undergraduate and graduate education in the range management profession across the nation and the world.”
    UW students worked hard through their Range Management Club to prepare for the event, including fundraising and practicing for contests. Each year, the Range Club cuts firewood in the fall and organizes a banquet and raffle in the spring to fund travel to the SRM annual meeting.
    “This year, our students also organized a ranching symposium in the fall to better inform other students about the issues that livestock producers face,” explains Beck. “They are organized very well and prepared themselves for the event.”
    The UW Range Club also competes at the state SRM meeting in the fall.
    “Overall, our students had a fantastic performance,” says Beck.
    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..