Pugsley steps back in RC&D Council
Wheatland – Outgoing Southeast Wyoming RC&D Chairman Jack Pugsley says serving on the Council for four years has been an “interesting challenge.”
He became involved as a representative for the Lingle-Fort Laramie Conservation District in 2004. “I was shoved in right away,” he says of becoming vice-chair his first year, which was followed by the chairman position in 2005.
“It’s a far different kind of board to work with than the conservation district board,” he notes of the experience.
Pugsley was on the Council when Southeast Wyoming RC&D Coordinator Grant Stumbough first became involved.
“I said ‘Go get him,’” says Pugsley of the decision to hire Stumbough. “In our first meeting Grant gave us some ideas he had, and wind energy development was one of them. A few weeks later he called to say he had someone in his office wanting to make a bid for us to work with them on a wind energy program.”
“There was much to learn, and I had a steep learning curve,” says Pugsley of understanding wind energy and all that accompanies it. “It was really interesting, and Grant and I had the opportunity to talk to a number of people across the state, as well as from New Mexico to Montana, from California to Washington.”
The Council has also made several presentations to the Western RC&D Association.
“I’ve been to five Western conferences and one national one,” says Pugsley, who was recognized Feb. 2 at the 2010 Western RC&D Association Conference in Montana with Outstanding Performance by a Council Member. He credits Stumbough with putting together a “very good biography.”
In addition to wind energy development, the Southeast Wyoming RC&D has a carbon sequestration program, under which several farmers have signed up.
The Council is also involved with the “Pathway to Water Quality” project on the Wyoming State Fairgrounds in Douglas. “That project was put in our laps, and the Council went for it, but it was my idea to make it a state project and get the other four councils involved as well,” says Pugsley of the project that’s still in the planning stages.
The project will serve as a model to demonstrate effective conservation management practices to individuals making decisions about land use and how decisions can and do impact natural resources and water quality. According to the Council, the group is working to secure grant dollars for several demonstration projects to include animal waste management, reduction of urban runoff, and wetland development. The pathway will serve as an outdoor classroom to provide water quality instruction and education to the public as they visit the Wyoming State Fair and the fairgrounds throughout the year.
Of moving on from Council leadership, Pugsley says, “I think it’s time to step back and let someone step in. I’m not going to completely abandon them. I’ll still be a part of it.”
Taking his place will be Jim Rogers, who with his wife Gay operates Brown’s Creek Angus near Laramie. In addition to his service with RC&D, Jim serves on the Wyoming Beef Council.
“I look forward to working with Jim Rogers as our new Chairman,” says Stumbough. “Jim brings a new and exciting perspective to the Council and I have always been impressed with his ability to lead and work with a variety of people. Jim is very positive and always has innovative ideas on how to improve the agriculture industry and stimulate local economies. Jim is very well known and is greatly respected across the state and will bring new people and interests to the council.”
Pugsley says he plans to devote more time to his cow/calf operation near Jay Em. “I’ve also got a ‘bucket list’ that’s getting bigger, and a honey-do list that’s also very large,” he adds, noting that in the past couple years he’s spent a lot of time writing letters to Washington, D.C. to get funding for the Council. “That requires quite a bit of time, and it’s a constant fight.”
“I have the utmost respect and admiration for Jack Pugsley,” says Stumbough. “Jack has been a tremendous leader for the Southeastern Wyoming RC&D Council and has been the driving force behind our wind energy development program as well as other natural resource improvement projects. He is a very motivated and thoughtful person and he will be greatly missed as chairman. Jack sincerely cares about people and their quality of life. If everyone had Jack’s energy, creativity, and consideration for others, our world would be a much better place to live.”
“It’s been an experience, and I’ve enjoyed it,” says Pugsley of his time as chairman. “There are some wonderful people involved in the Council, and I will miss it. I’m still not going to be completely separated, I’m just stepping back to let someone else take the reins.
Other members of the Southeast Wyoming RC&D officer team include Vice Chairman Jim Huddleson of Torrington, Treasurer Cindy Kahler of Wheatland and Secretary Jennifer Womack of Douglas.
Members of the RC&D include entities and individuals from Laramie, Albany, Converse, Niobrara, Natrona and Platte counties interested in natural resource enhancement and economic development. The Council, which meets quarterly, works in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Council coordinator Grant Stumbough is an employee of the NRCS.