Bowman to lead CattleWomenWritten by Jennifer Womack
Bowman’s own biography speaks to the potential she believes her fellow CattleWomen hold in the effort to educate the public about beef and the cattle industry. She also says the group can add unlikely advocates to its membership ranks.
When Jo and her husband Bo, who works for the Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Land Trust (WSGALT), returned to Wyoming in June 2003 they met the local CattleWomen. Jo says the group was selling sandwiches, brand napkins and books at a yard sale held by a fellow member. Jo’s first question: “Do you have to be a producer to belong?”
Just three years later, serving as the group’s president, she knew that a love for the beef industry and its people was the primary requirement. “I’m just excited for the opportunity to be involved,” says Bowman. “You don’t have to be a producer. You can be someone who loves the lifestyle, the products and the people.”
Visiting with a fellow CattleWomen member from Colorado, Bowman says she was inspired by a story that could benefit Wyoming. “There were producers around this area where five-acre ranchettes were being sold off,” shares Bowman. “They decided they could either deal with the anti-agriculture efforts or embrace and educate the newcomers.” As new community members arrived Bowman says the “welcome wagon” went out to greet the new residents. “It helped them understand things like why you might be haying at 2 a.m.”
“I don’t think we in Wyoming can ignore it,” says Bowman of the same opportunities, often disguised as challenges, that exist in Wyoming. “It’s happening all around us.”
Describing herself as a country kid stuck in the city too long, Jo says she spent her early childhood on a dairy and moved to the city in Arizona at age 10. She made her way to Wyoming in 1991, first settling in the Sheridan area. “We did some connecting with ranch folks in that area,” she says, noting time spent gathering and associating with fellow horse and Western history lovers. Following a six-year stint in the community, she and Bo spent five years living and working near Montana’s Crazy Mountains.
Back in Wyoming, she says, “We love the industry and the people involved. We need to work together more now than ever before.” As she visits with local CattleWomen groups across the state in the coming year, she says that call to reach out will be the primary theme of her message.
“A lot of the anti-agriculture movement is misinformation and mis-education,” she says. “We have to be more proactive. The survival of our industry, our lifestyle and what we love is going to depend on stretching beyond what we’ve traditionally done. I guess I’m an example of that.”