Growing leadership: YPA to provide a voice, leadership building opportunities for young producersWritten by Emilee Gibb
Cheyenne – Young livestock producers and beginning agricultural producers from around Wyoming have the opportunity to become involved and have a more active voice in important industry issues through the Young Producers Assembly (YPA), which is an organization offered through the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA).
YPA was created to provide young producers an avenue to work collaboratively on important industry issues and hold leadership positions in the organization, says WSGA Communication, Publications and Programs Director Haley Lockwood.
“The purpose of the program is to have a way for young producers from across the state to work on issues that are important to them,” she says.
Building a foundation
YPA leaders are currently in the process of creating the foundation for the organization, says Lockwood.
“We’re basically in the brainstorming phase of a lot of this and nothing has been set in stone,” explains Lockwood.
The group last met at the summer convention, so Lockwood is hopeful that many decisions will be made at their next meeting during the Winter Roundup Convention on Dec. 5.
“It’s been a busy fall, so we actually haven’t had a good solid meeting since the summer convention in Laramie. I think that at this winter’s convention we’ll be able to get a lot more done because a lot more people will be able to come,” comments Lockwood.
The group plans to discuss several business items that were brought up during the summer meeting.
“During our regular business meeting, we’ll go over various items that we are working on right now, such as our trademark logo,” says Lockwood. “We feel that it’s important for us to have a logo as a way for people to recognize us as a group, once we finally start promoting it.”
YPA is open to young producers between the ages of 18 and 40 or to individuals who have five years or less of agricultural experience.
“Even someone who is in their 50s but is just getting started in the ag business is more than welcome to come and join us,” says Lockwood.
She explains that many topics that will be discussed in YPA are important for beginning producers to learn about.
“A lot of the things that we plan to go over have to do with how to get started in the business, family successional planning and the basics that we feel are really important. We didn’t want to exclude anyone who is just getting started,” emphasizes Lockwood.
Individuals who are interested in becoming involved with YPA are encouraged to attend the Winter Roundup Convention meeting or to contact the WSGA.
“If they want, people who are interested are more than welcome to come to the Winter Roundup and come to our meeting in December. They can also contact me at our office, which is probably the best way to get more information,” says Lockwood.
YPA and WSGA is hopeful that providing leadership positions at a younger age will better equip members as they step into leadership positions in WSGA.
“If young producers start in the leadership of Stock Growers at an earlier age, we hope they feel that they have a voice and don’t have to wait until they’re 50 to have a say in some of the things that happen in Stock Growers,” continues Lockwood.
“We also felt that there were a lot of people who were put into leadership positions that sometimes may not feel as comfortable doing it,” explains Lockwood. “We think that if we start with a younger group to get everyone involved a little earlier, they would be more than happy to take leadership positions in the future.”
YPA currently has four committees, including policy; social recruitment and events; education and outreach; and fundraising. The committees will provide leadership opportunities and training for young producers.
“Once our members graduate to Stock Growers and take committee chair positions or even regional vice president positions, they will feel more comfortable and be really aware of what those positions entail and what to expect,” explains Lockwood.
Supporting youth producers: Supporting youth producers WSGA looks at helping young ranchers succeedWritten by Saige Albert
Laramie – “The most important thing we can learn from college is how to learn,” said Sage Askin, a young rancher from Lusk.
Askin concluded a panel discussion titled, “Preparing the Next Generation of Wyoming Ranchers” at the 2016 Wyoming Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show, held in Laramie June 1-4. He was joined by University of Wyoming College of Agriculture and Natural Resources professors, who emphasized what they teach in their classrooms on campus.
“Open-mindedness is the second most valuable thing we can learn,” Askin added. “It’s hard to stop a person that has those two things.”
Askin graduated from the University of Wyoming in 2011 with a degree in rangeland management, but he noted that the information he learned in college was far from all he needed to be successful as a rancher.
“Another thing we can learn is that more heads are better than one,” he said. “If we try to go it alone, we’re not going to do as well.”
Askin added that the university also emphasized the importance of networking.
“That carries on for the rest of our lives,” he commented. “The friendships and connections I have made have helped me, and I believe they will continue to help me.”
“It truly is about standing on the shoulders of giants, as Stephen Hawking wrote,” Askin added. “It’s the people we know and can learn from that help us to stand tall.”
“We have to have the social skills and human relationships,” he said.
While in college, Askin also noted that it’s about more than taking a single course or degree program.
“There’s not a single degree field that will set anyone up to become a rancher,” he said. “I tried to tailor my courses, but I skipped the boring stuff – and I shouldn’t have.”
Askin asserted that economics and business courses have more of an impact than perhaps range management or animal science course work.
“An ag business degree might be better to have than anything else,” he added.
“We all have our own passions,” Askin said. “Every student goes to school with something that they’re interested in. The sooner they can jump into a degree program that will allow them to follow it, and take other classes on the side, the better.”
Askin also noted that it’s important to select a specialty and pursue something that they’re interested in. However, he said that it’s important to add additional coursework on the side for a well-rounded overall education.
“If I were to make a recommendation, I’d say pick a specialty, become good at it but keep a broad view,” he said. “Never become too narrowed down. We have to be holistic managers and keep a holistic approach. If we get too tapped into the details, we’re going to lose sight of the big picture, which leads to success.”
“There’s three main things that make ranches successful,” Askin said. “Those are grazing management, marketing and stockmanship. I’ll stand by those.”
However, he noted that the other aspects of ranching aren’t to be devalued, but they are tools in a big toolbox.
Managing the resource and selling a product are the most important pieces of a story. He also added that at the end of the day, ranching is about selling a product, and if ranchers lose sight of that, they will be less effective and profitable.
“Every class we take has an impact. Every conversation we have can teach us something,” he said.
In today’s connected world, Askin commented that it is important to plan for the future and be prepared for all potential outcomes in any situation.
“I’m constantly producing contingency plans for what could happen,” he said. “It’s important.”
“We’re more connected that ever before, and we can contact more people and have more of an impact than in the history of the world,” Askin added. “Based on that, we’re ranching in an era of greater opportunity than has been seen before, contrary to pessimism. There are lots of reasons to be optimistic.”
Young producers: WSGA develops new assembly at Winter RoundupWritten by Natasha Wheeler
Casper – On Nov. 30, 17 young producers gathered at the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) Winter Roundup in Casper to initiate the development of a WSGA Young Producers Assembly.
“I was approached by Niels Hansen and Jim Magagna about creating a young producer program to get young producers more involved in WSGA and get program content focused directly toward the young producer segment,” stated Kendall Roberts of Cheyenne.
Development of the group is intended to create a tool to recruit, involve and engage young producers in WSGA and agriculture in Wyoming.
“It’s a great way to foster that opportunity and have a seat at the table,” she commented.
The initial group met to identify issues currently faced by their age demographic and to develop a roadmap for the creation of the Young Producers Assembly.
“We had a small officer elections, so we have some leadership and can get tasks completed based on that leadership,” Roberts mentioned. “We’ll continue to keep in touch with one another and try to get some of those things completed from what we discussed at our meeting.”
The team also developed a set of three directives to provide guidance for the progression of the group’s work.
Outreach and education was the first directive outlined by the Assembly, which hopes to encourage specific program content for young producers at WSGA events.
“It’s being able to have content at a conference or convention that will give us the opportunity to bring in some members. We can then say we will have special programs that are solely focused on topics such as health insurance, estate planning and how to get the conversation started,” she explained.
The second directive identified by the Assembly was the creation of social and recruitment activities targeted specifically for young producers, with the intention of piggybacking social activities already established by WSGA.
“We, as young producers, might know each other as so-and-so’s son or daughter, but we have never worked together. Let’s meet, let’s talk and let’s build some relationships. We thought a social activity would be a good place for us to get started with that,” Roberts continued.
Recruitment efforts would also be encouraged through social events, providing a platform for potential WSGA members to learn about the association and meet other young producers from throughout the state.
“We have our Wyoming Collegiate Cattle Association, for example. We want to be able to have them come to our events and see it from the outside looking in. We want those young people – from the collegiate level to where we are in the first five or 10 years out of college – to see what we are doing on our operations and in agriculture business today,” she commented.
Another directive that the Assembly discussed was the incorporation of young producers in the leadership of WSGA.
“We are already serving on committees, but we want to have some sort of representation that affects us into the future,” Roberts noted. “I think that’s two pieces in one, policy and leadership, and having a seat at the table.”
The Assembly will meet again at the WSGA summer conference, and Roberts encouraged young producers to attend.
“I would like to have a packed room of 30-plus. Producers who have kids at home or young managers who work for them should encourage those young people to come to our summer conference,” she said.
Roberts also clarified that the Young Producers Assembly is being designed as an integrated part of WSGA and not as a separate group or committee.
“We want to be included with Stock Growers, but we also want to include the Stock Growers with us,” she stated.
“We also talked about having a liaison from the leadership team, for example having the vice president of the leadership team attend our meetings, so we maintain a connection to the general membership,” she added.
A place at the table
The Assembly concluded with a presentation from agriculture advocates Stacy and Troy Hadrick, who emphasized using influential power. Roberts noted that their message was important for young producers, asking them to share their perspectives, tell their story and get themselves a seat at the table.
She remarked, “Somebody else will tell our story for us, and I think that reiterated what we discussed at our meeting yesterday. If we tell our story and get the word out there, things will start to happen and things will change.”
Roberts challenged young producers to reach out to share information and recruit participants for future meetings.
“We can’t develop this Young Producer Assembly without young people getting there and seeing what is happening with our meeting,” she said.
Agricultural promotion discussed at WSGAWritten by Natasha Wheeler
Casper – The Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) committee for agricultural promotion, education and enhancement met at this year’s Winter Roundup in Casper, held Nov. 30-Dec. 1, to share updates concerning scholarship and award opportunities, the University of Wyoming (UW) and the formation of the WSGA young producers assembly.
Scholarships and awards
Haley Lockwood, WSGA communication, publication and program director, noted the 2015 Environmental Stewardship Program winner will be announced in the Wyoming Livestock Roundup in January, and additional information will be distributed in the spring for the next round of applicants.
“Also, in April, I will be submitting the King Ranch 2016 nomination for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) environmental stewardship award,” she noted. “I always hope that our producers will be selected for the regional award through NCBA. They have great operations that are chosen every year, and I always hope that Wyoming will be represented.”
Lockwood also mentioned that information for the next Hansen Memorial Scholarship will be released in February 2016, and the winning recipient will be invited to the WSGA summer convention in Laramie June 1-4.
“Last year, we had a lot of student applications to go through, and it was extremely tough to decide. We had to create a committee to decide who would receive the scholarship,” she said.
This year, the application deadline for the WSGA rangeland internship program is set for Jan. 16.
“We are trying to target people who would get agency-level jobs out of school who also have no ranching experience,” she explained.
Interns will work with mentors to gain hands-on experience, connecting concepts from the classroom with real-world applications to bridge the gap between agencies and the realities that ranchers face.
“There are mentor opportunities for producers who are interested and use rangeland initiatives. Producers and students can contact me for information, or visit the WSGA website,” she added.
UW cattle update
Updates from the Wyoming Collegiate Cattle Association (WCCA) were also shared at the meeting, as WSGA scholarship recipients and WCCA club members BJ Bender and Micayla Crimmins described WCCA promotional events at UW.
“Our first event was the UW family farm day. We had a lot of families and students come to see what our ag facilities are like,” noted Crimmins.
The club also held their first annual beef box raffle, ordered promotional items such as t-shirts and roping gloves and promoted themselves on campus with booths set up at various student events.
“A few of us went to the Range Beef Cow Symposium in Loveland, Colo., and that was really good opportunity. We got to network, listen to industry professionals and go through the tradeshow to see new technologies and products,” added Bender.
In the spring, WCCA will also be hosting Curt Pate, a producer from Montana who emphasizes low-stress cattle handling techniques. Both UW students and the general public will be invited to attend the event.
College of Ag
Bret Hess, director of the UW Agricultural Experiment Station, and Pepper Jo Six, UW Foundation major gift officer paired with the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, spoke at the meeting as well.
Hess noted that both UW Extension Director Glen Whipple and Dean Frank Galey have been reappointed for new terms in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the search is underway for the new university president.
Although a hiring freeze is in effect at UW, Hess also noted that efforts are being made to ensure that critical faculty are retained and hired, working on a case-by-case basis with an emphasis on serving both the university and the state.
He also mentioned that College of Ag building renovations are being reviewed, Extension listening sessions will continue in the state, and 2016 will celebrate 125 years of Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Stations.
Six encouraged producers to share their passion for agriculture, highlighting activities in the college of agriculture and natural resources, including continued work at the ACRES student farm, plans for an improved equine program and improved equine facilities on campus, efforts toward building a young producer program and the benefits of the sales of the Riverbend and Y Cross ranches.
“The sale of Y Cross Ranch has been really beneficial. We now will have $400,000 annually to use for scholarships and student support in the College of Agriculture. That is a lot of scholarship aid for our students to take advantage of,” Six explained.
There has also been an endowment established recently for the support of sheep-specific research at UW.
“This is a good era for the College of Agriculture, especially with the sheep industry, as producers have stepped forward and want to make a difference and be more viable,” she said.
The committee meeting also welcomed Kendall Roberts, who discussed plans to create a Young Producers Assembly within WSGA.
“Hopefully, this will be a tool to build and recruit for more young producers to become members of WSGA and for having a say in policy, leadership, education and activities that take place within WSGA,” she explained.
The meeting adjourned with support for the Young Producers Assembly. No other resolutions were considered.
WSGA learns about structure, inner workings of national groupsWritten by Saige Albert
Sheridan – With the theme of “Nuts and Bolts of Your Industry,” the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) Summer Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show took an intimate look inside the national organizations representing the industry, particularly the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC).
“It’s helpful for producers on the ground to have a little perspective on the nuts and bolts of national organization,” said Todd Johnson of NCBA.
NCBA is one of the nation’s most highly-recognized cattle organizations, and Johnson noted that the current model that the organization operates under is only 20 years old.
In the early 90s, Johnson explained that an industry-wide group of producers gathered to figure out how to connect with consumers, be a more effective industry and be more efficient in their operations.
“A plan was put together and out of that plan came the principle for a merger of industry organizations,” he explained, noting that in 1996, NCBA came from the merger of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, Beef Industry Council of the National Livestock and Meat Board, U.S. Meat Export Federation, CattleWomen and others. “There were many of us nationally doing things that were very similar.”
The merger resulted in a very efficient organization with two divisions – policy and checkoff – all based on producer input.
“NCBA is built on producers at the grassroots level,” Johnson continued. “The state affiliate organizations fill the policy division of NCBA. WSGA and its leadership is substantial in our organization.”
He also noted that on the other side, the state beef councils are represented on the foundation side of the federation division.
“The unique thing is that both of those come together in one board meeting,” Johnson noted. “We answer to one board.”
However, in voting on issues, a division is made between policy and checkoff decisions, and the appropriate entities vote on issues affecting their respective arenas.
“If we are voting on or approving the slate of officers, for example, it is a joint issue,” he noted.
NCBA achieves efficiency in its operation by combining the redundant administrative duties of both groups.
“We have a checkoff-centric group, which does part of the work on behalf of the beef checkoff program as a contractor,” Johnson explained. “We also do work on behalf of the state beef councils.”
In the government affairs sector of the organization, a team works to advance legislative and regulatory policies in Washington, D.C. to support and promote the industry.
“We also have shared services, including accounting, communications and human resources,” he said. “We gain efficiencies of size and scale there.”
Because NCBA houses the federation and policy divisions, when issues facing the industry arise, they are able to attack the concern from a multi-pronged approach.
Johnson used the dietary guidelines as a recent example of how this strategy can work.
“We assemble what we call a core issues response team,” he said. “We pull staff from the policy division who understand the regulations around dietary guidelines. We pull a subject matter expert from the checkoff side who understands the nutrition research. We pull a communications person from the policy side who understands what they need to do to make headway in Washington, D.C., and we also pull a communications expert from the checkoff who knows how to relate to the consumer.”
By working together, the organization is able to accomplish more than any group may be able to achieve on its own.
Another important agency on the national scale, PLC, also works with NCBA in many ways.
PLC’s Executive Director Dustin van Liew represents NCBA on federal lands, Endangered Species Act and water rights issues. He also serves to carry out the direction determined by the Board of the organization.
“PLC was established in 1968,” he explained. “It represents 22,000 entities that hold grazing permits. PLC is the sole organization in Washington, D.C. at the national level dedicated fully to representing producers who hold permits or have grazing rights on federal lands.”
PLC is comprised of state affiliates in the cattle and sheep industry, as well as national affiliates, such as NCBA, the American Sheep Industry Association and the Association of National Grasslands.
“We don’t operate as other organizations with direct membership do, where one pays dues as a direct member,” van Liew explained. “We do operate as an umbrella-type organization where each state has a director and three additional delegates that sit on our board of directors, which dictates how PLC operates and moves forward.”
As with NCBA, PLC members bring resolutions to the annual meeting and legislative meeting each year. The resolutions direct the work of van Liew and his colleague Marci Schlup, a Wyoming native who works in Washington, D.C.
PLC has full-time lobbying representation that looks at a variety of issues on the national level, particularly for those states in western, public lands states.
“We continue to work with our national affiliates and visit with those states outside the West on the importance of keeping access to federal lands, not just for the ranching industry, but for the oil and gas industry that continues to rule our country,” van Liew mentioned. “It is an important part of keeping range access open and keeping ranchlands in the West.”
Because about 40 percent of the western cattle herd and 50 percent of the U.S. sheep herd spends at least some time on federal lands, van Liew emphasized that access to livestock grazing on federal lands is imperative.
“As we visit with folks at regional and national meeting, it is imperative to remind them that if the federal government removes livestock grazing on federal lands, it doesn’t just impact the states in the West, it also impacts the overall industry across the U.S. for both sheep and cattle.”