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Government

Code of the West, Film highlights Wyoming’s best

Written by Jennifer Womack

Laramie — Under the sponsorship of State Representative Pete Illoway (R-Cheyenne), Wyoming may soon have an official Code of Ethics, specifically the “Code of the West.”
If met with approval at the upcoming session of the Wyoming Legislature, the Code will join the list of other items symbolic of Wyoming and noted in state statute — Indian paintbrush, the cottonwood tree and the meadowlark bird. Illoway agreed to carry legislation in support of the Code during a Jan. 22, 2010 gathering where a documentary film, “Code of the West,” premiered. Jim Havey directed the film with the guidance of author, speaker and Code of the West advocate Jim Owen who served as the film’s producer.
Owen is the founder and “Chief Inspiration Officer” of the Center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership and the author of two books, “Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West,” and “Cowboy Values: Recapturing What America Once Stood For.” Owen, who was in attendance and spoke at the Jan. 22 event, said he chose Wyoming for the Code of the West film because it’s an area where Cowboy Ethics are alive and well.
“His vision about the power of the Wyoming story,” said University of Wyoming School of Business Dean Brent Hathaway of Owen, “is why we’re here today.”
Wyoming Business Council CEO Bob Jensen said his agency welcomed the opportunity to join the effort to highlight Owen’s work and Wyoming businesses operating by the Code of the West. “The Business Council knows firsthand that the way business is done in Wyoming, unfortunately, doesn’t exist as much as it used to in the rest of America,” said Jensen. “We also know that many businesses outside of Wyoming are looking for place where they can do business like we do in Wyoming, by the Code of the West.”
Several individuals familiar to most Wyomingites appear throughout the film. Among them is the Shepperson family of Midwest. Four generations of the Shepperson family work together on their central Wyoming ranch. Frank Shepperson is president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and his daughter Lisa Shepperson is a rancher and a Wyoming State Representative.
“Is the Code of the West for real or is it something made up? Is it still alive?” said Owen of the questions he’s asked nearly every time he speaks to a group. “In my heart I think the last great place for the Code of the West is Wyoming.”
“Wyoming is different and special,” said Jim Havey, the film’s director. “I think that those of you who live here know that. This state is a unique entity in the country and in the minds and hearts of the people who live here.”
“This is one of the most satisfying things I’ve done,” said Owen of work on the documentary.
Wyoming’s business and education communities embraced Owen and Havey’s work to feature the state as a place where the Code of the West remains alive and well in everyday dealings. Among the films’ supporters was the University of Wyoming College of Business under the leadership of Hathaway. The college, which is home to the Bill Daniels Distinguished Professor of Business Ethics Richard McGinity, will oversee future distribution of the film.
“Clearly, our partnership with the Daniels Fund was the beginning,” said Hathaway during Friday night’s premier. “We had a dream and the dream was simple; to build a campus-wide initiative that would then become a statewide movement. That’s being reinforced for me personally here today.”
“I would love to see the country discover this thing,” said Owen. “I would love to see whatever profit is made, that we as a group reinvest it in the schools.”
The University of Wyoming College of Business has posted a link at http://business.uwyo.edu/dean/ for those individuals who would like to receive additional information regarding the film. Copies of the documentary aren’t yet available, but those who fill out the form will receive additional information as it’s released.
Information regarding Jim Owen and his work can be found online at www.cowboyethics.org. Freelance writer and Wyoming FFA Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Womack can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 307-351-0730.