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Wyoming People

Film features Wyoming ag women

Written by Jennifer Womack
Casper – Women of Wyoming agriculture have a strong presence in a film called “Don’t Fence Me In” that will be presented in Casper later this month.
    Spotlighting Wyoming women, the film is part of a larger public awareness campaign on the contributions of the state’s women. Several of the women filmed for the piece have either a modern day presence or a past involvement with the state’s agricultural industry. Two were included in the film’s final version while others are highlighted, including a biography and photographs, at www.equipoisefund.org.
    Included in the film is reigning Miss Rodeo Wyoming Stacy Jo Johnson and Powell farmer Beryl Churchill. Stacy Jo is a fifth generation Wyoming rancher on her family’s ranch outside of Laramie. She was crowned Miss Rodeo USA 2006, and is the reigning Miss Rodeo Wyoming. Stacy is an advocate for the western way of life, the sport of rodeo and healthy habits for children. She is currently a pre-med student at the University of Wyoming and hopes to someday practice medicine in the state. In addition to her studies and her duties as a rodeo queen, Stacy sings and plays guitar in her family’s band “The Ranchers.”
    Beryl’s story is one of water and women in the American West. She walks us through her personal history as a farmer in Powell, through connections to the Buffalo Bill Dam, the Shoshone Project, early women settlers and the history of the town of Powell.  Beryl and her husband Winston grow sugar beets, beans, alfalfa and barley, showcasing an important example of sustainable agriculture in the arid West.
    Several names familiar to Wyoming agriculture are among the women featured on the website. Here’s a look at what filmmakers had to say about some other prominent women in Wyoming agriculture.
“The Buffalo Four”
    Hermie Christian, Jonesie Smith, Audrey Long and Madeline Harriet. Hermie, Jonesie,  Audrey and Madeline … four women, now in their 80s, who represent traditional Wyoming cattle and sheep ranching, the value of long-standing friendships among women, and the meaning of women’s network. Each is a fine example of Wyoming womanhood – strong, vital and down-to-earth. The film crew had a delightful time listening to their storytelling and joining them at the County Fair in Buffalo.
Terry Henderson
    Terry is a full-time rancher, freelance writer of rural life, volunteer wildland firefighter, wife, mom, grandmother of five and cowgirl poet from Shawnee. Together with her husband Frank, Terry runs the Wyoming School of Ranching, a university-level program that takes place on the Henderson’s Cougar Valley Ranch, where they raise natural grass-fed beef. She entertains with her poetry readings and banjo playing at events throughout Wyoming, Nevada and California.
Keja Whiteman
    Keja is the first Native American ever elected to the Fremont County Commission, which includes the Wind River Reservation and nearly 7,000 Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone residents. And she’s a woman in her early 30s. “I’m still mulling what this means in my mind,” she says. Keja is a mother of three, rancher, barrel racer, 4-H booster and policy consultant to tribes all over the U.S. She earned her undergraduate degree in human services and her master’s degree in public administration at the University of Wyoming. Elected at-large, she views all Fremont County citizens as her constituents, but believes she has a special obligation to residents of the Wind River Reservation. Keja is a strong and focused advocate for Native Americans and their role in this country. Keja lives in Riverton.
Alice Fuller
    Alice is a feisty 82-year-old painter who grew up and worked on a ranch. Alice is now one of the most collected artists in the Dayton-Sheridan area of Wyoming. Her paintings are bold and colorful, ranging from abstracts to still-life to multimedia. Alice also teaches painting and is her gallery’s “Official Cowgirl Artist Guru Mentor.”
Lynn Horton
    Lynn is an emergency room doctor who also raises organic beef cattle with her husband on their ranch near Powell. She enjoys exploring Wyoming’s backcountry and working with her ranch dogs. The film crew was able to capture Lynn herding cattle at her ranch and caring for patients at the Powell Valley Hospital.
Nancy Curtis
    Nancy owns and operates a cattle ranch along the Platte River and next to the rail line near Glendo. From her historic family home she also runs High Plains Press, which specializes in books about Wyoming and the West. She is the co-editor of Leaning Into the Wind, a moving anthology of western women’s writings. Nancy coined the term “cowmoms” to counteract the traditional cowboy icon and to illuminate why women make good ranchers. Nancy and her cows were once the subject of a Life magazine photo essay.
    The film will show on April 25 in Casper. Doors to the Rialto Theater open at 5 p.m. with the movie playing at 5:30 p.m. Following, at 7:30 p.m., there will be a reception at the Nicolaysen Art Museum.
    Tickets are $25 and include heavy hors d’oeuvres and two drink tickets. They can be purchased from Sara Mikesell Growney at 307-587-6146 or in advance from the Nicolaysen Art Museum during regular business hours (Tues-Sat 10-5 and Sunday 12-4).  In addition, the 2008 Atta Girl Awards will be presented by Wyoming’s First Lady, Nancy Freudenthal.