Celebrating 125 Years of ServiceWritten by Bret Hess
The Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station is excited to announce it will be celebrating its 125th anniversary during 2016. That’s right! The Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station has been serving the great state of Wyoming by conducting research that transforms life for 125 years. The paragraphs to follow are intended to provide a brief history of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station plus provide a glimpse of what to expect as we celebrate 125 years of service.
Passage of the Hatch Act by Congress on March 2, 1887 paved the way for the creation of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station. The Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station was born upon approval of an act by the Wyoming Legislature on Jan. 10, 1891. The Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station was established as a division within the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture as a federal, legislative-mandated mechanism to leverage federal financial resources with state funds provided to the University. The Board of Trustees of the University of Wyoming appointed John “Dice” McLaren to the position of director of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station on March 27, 1891.
In the first publication of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station, printed in May 1891, Director McLaren explained that the purpose of the Experiment Stations created by the Hatch Act was to “aid in acquiring and diffusing among the people of the United States useful and practical information on subjects connected with agriculture and to promote scientific investigation and experiment respecting the principles and applications of agricultural science.”
Director McLaren also explained that the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station would distribute bulletins containing reports of various experiments. He further expressed his desire to have researchers associated with the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station talk personally about their experiments with Wyoming citizens in what he envisioned as “Farmers’ Institutes.”
Since its beginning in 1891, the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station has been conducting applied and basic research to help solve problems that affect the agricultural sector of our state, region and nation. Substations, also known as experiment farms, were established at various sites around the state to permit experimentation that had regional relevance within the Cowboy State. The first experiment farms were located near Lander, Saratoga, Sheridan, Sundance and Wheatland. Researchers affiliated with the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station and its substations often summarized their studies in a series of Experiment Station bulletins. All bulletin reports from the early days through 1950 may be accessed via the Wyoming Scholars Repository at repository.uwyo.edu/ag_exp_sta_bulletins. The early Farmers’ Institutes involved loading participants on a train and traveling around the state to learn about the latest research findings.
Today, researchers affiliated with the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station conduct fundamental and applied research on agricultural, natural and community resource issues related to the current and future needs of Wyoming, the region, the nation and the world. The Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station currently operates four branch stations within the state, known as Research and Extension Centers (R&E centers).
R&E centers are located in or near Laramie, Wyarno and Sheridan at the Sheridan R&E Center, Lingle at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture R&E Center (SAREC) and Powell. Like the early days, the R&E centers were placed in those locations to conduct research and educational programs that are connected to agriculture in their vicinity, albeit many of the projects may be applicable throughout the state. Advances in agricultural science certainly will not lead to development of new technologies or farming practices without transfer of research-based knowledge to society. Thus, the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station publishes the Field Days Bulletin in an effort to educate citizens about research and other activities being conducted by scientists affiliated with Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station and at the R&E centers. The Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station Field Days Bulletin reports are available at uwyo.edu/uwexpstn/publications. The R&E centers also host annual field days to provide the public with an update on the center’s activities and to discuss research projects at various stages of completion.
Thanks to a highly capable and thoughtful planning committee, the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station will work hard to make its 125th celebration memorable. The committee has already recommended several items to increase awareness of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ research branch.
For starters, the College’s sheep wagon will be refurbished to be on display as well as to be pulled by a recently acquired team of horses at various events. The plan is to offer rides in the sheep wagon at events that allow for such an activity. Rides will be offered at our field days this summer for sure.
The committee has also commissioned David Kruger, agricultural research librarian and liaison librarian for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, to research and write a comprehensive history of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station. David’s insight and enthusiasm for the project is sure to bolster the excitement revolving around the experiment station’s 125th anniversary celebration! This history will include significant accomplishments of each R&E Center, which will include a celebration of each of their years of existence at their respective field days. Brief video clips of the history will be included in a traveling display.