Martins split time between teaching, ranchingWritten by Jennifer Womack
Quinn Martin teaches woodworking at the Lyman High School. His wife Toni teaches fifth grade in the same district. When they’re not at school, however, they’re loading up their three kids to help on her family’s Spackman Ranch, on his family’s Martin Ranch near Evanston or saddling up to help a neighbor. The Martins live on the Spackman Ranch, but spend their summers near Evanston where they run cattle on his family’s ranch.
Quinn’s daytime teacher, nighttime and summer rancher approach is somewhat of a tradition he’s carried on from his father Aaron Martin, who also spent numerous years in the classroom. Summers were busy, recalls Quinn. “He’d try to cram 12 months of ranching into the three summer months,” he laughs. Aaron left teaching for a while and built houses and ranched, which is where Quinn learned his first woodworking skills.
“I grew up on a ranch south of Evanston on Hillyard Flat,” says Quinn. “The summers are really nice there and the winters can be fairly miserable.” The family gradually added acres.
“He raised eight kids on the ranch, four boys and four girls,” says Quinn. “The ranch would just kind of sustain itself and the teaching income made it so he could support the family.”
In about 1995 Aaron had an opportunity to grow the ranch by purchasing Dick Sims old ranch north of Evanston. “It’s a little nicer climate,” says Quinn, “and all of the ground is in one place.” He says that includes the federal leases. “In just 24 miles it’s a huge difference in climate.”
“When we were growing up we roped a lot,” says Quinn, noting that his father never really worried about them roping in competitions, but needed their help on the ranch. The boys, however, took to the skill and have been successful in the arena, particularly at ranch rodeos. The Martins are past winners of the national finals ranch rodeo.
Quinn’s three brothers have homes on the family ranch. His brother Justin oversees day-to-day operations.
Equally devoted to his career as a teacher, Quinn recently attended a class to learn to build guitars. Students in one of his classes will be building their own guitars this semester. Another of his classes took on a slightly larger project — a house.
Launching into construction three years ago, Quinn says the house will be completed this fall with landscaping to take place in the spring. “We started with a foundation and we’ve done it all clear through. It will be ready to move into, turn key.”
Quinn explains, “The school district paid for it.” Built on school district property, he says the school set aside $115,000 as a budget for the project. While he hasn’t heard for sure, he’s hopeful the money from the sale can be used to build yet another home in Lyman.
Toni, who teaches fifth grade, is the newest member of the Wyoming Agriculture in the Classroom Board of Directors. “It will be a wonderful opportunity to help get agriculture in our classrooms,” says Toni. “Brook Gerke is doing a great job as our coordinator. I’ve been so impressed with what she’s done.” Toni says the agricultural curriculum should be required in all Wyoming classrooms.
Toni was raised on her family’s Spackman Ranch, also featured in this edition. Her brother operates the place, but the Martins help when needed. They also call the ranch home.
Like so many other areas of Wyoming and the nation, Toni says it’s becoming increasingly difficult for young families to return to ranching. “The one thing we can hope for is that our kids gain the work ethics and values that come from living on a ranch. We hope they gain an appreciation for the land and what the land gives you.”
“Good stewardship of the land is something we hope to instill in our kids,” she says. “Our boys hay, they’re branding, they’re moving cows up in the mountains with their grandpa, but as far as owning a piece of it…” Well, she admits, that’s becoming more and more difficult all of the time.
“We teach all winter and play all summer,” says Quinn.