Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame celebrates 25 years of honoring citizens in 2016Written by Saige Albert
With the vision of Del Tinsley, then publisher of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame was born in 1992, and this year, the Hall of Fame is celebrating its 25th year.
Tinsley, who started the award as the Wyoming Agriculture Citizen of the Year, was searching for a way to recognize farmers, ranchers and others who contribute to the agriculture industry but are not recognized for their work.
“I thought it was time to start recognizing some of the leaders who had stepped up and gotten out in front of everything on their own time,” he says. “These are people who have stuck up for us and worked for the industry.”
A quarter-century ago
The first year of the award, Tinsley says he had a “tremendous amount of nominations,” noting that Dennis Sun was selected for his work in bringing diverse groups of people together through Coordinated Resource Management programs.
“I realized there were a lot of people to recognize,” Tinsley says. “We started doing two winners each year to recognize all the folks who are such an important part of our industry.”
Tinsley also notes that a panel of people who are deeply engaged in the agriculture industry selects the winners of the Ag Hall of Fame award.
“The people of Wyoming agriculture nominate and vote on the award winners,” he says. “It’s a prestigious award from the people who are involved in the industry.”
The first several years, the award was presented during the rodeo at the Wyoming State Fair. However, the presentation was moved to Riverside Park in Douglas, just across the street from the Wyoming State Fairgrounds, after concerns that the award presentation was delaying the rodeo.
At the same time, Tinsley added a picnic to the event, providing a time for attendees to socialize and catch up with their friends and neighbors.
The picnic will continue this year at Riverside Park in Douglas on the Wednesday of the Wyoming State Fair.
“This is a tradition that is important to Wyoming agriculture and Wyoming people,” Dennis Sun, publisher of the Roundup, comments.“The people in the Ag Hall of Fame represent agriculture in all of Wyoming.”
Bringing together partners
Several years in, Tinsley asked Farm Credit Services of America (FCSA) to partner with the Roundup on the award. They have now been a part of the award program for more than 20 years.
Rick Griffith, president of FCSA, comments “Being involved with the Ag Hall of Fame is our way of celebrating and recognizing ag producers.”
Griffith mentions that the event provides an opportunity to celebrate more than just the inductees into the Hall of Fame, saying, “We can celebrate with all agriculture people in general. It’s a great way to get people together to relax and enjoy the event.”
He adds that the FCSA team enjoys the chance to visit with ag producers during the event.
“This is one of our favorite events of the year,” Griffith comments, “and it’s one that we really enjoy participating in.”
In recent years, Chesapeake Energy has also come on board to help sponsor the picnic.
Each year, Wyoming’s Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. presents the awards to inductees in the Hall of Fame, and Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso both express their support on the award, emphasizing its importance in the state.
“Agriculture is an essential part of the Wyoming way of life and a cornerstone of our state’s history. It is an industry so important it is even a part of our state seal,” Sen. Enzi says. “Since it was founded 25 years ago, the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame has done an outstanding job recognizing those Wyoming citizens who have made substantial contributions to agriculture in our state.”
He continues, “Carving out a successful life through ranching and farming is no easy feat, but neither is earning the respect of your peers to be honored in the Hall of Fame. It is an important reminder of those individuals whose lifetime of hard work truly exemplifies the ‘can do’ spirit of the West that has helped to make Wyoming an amazing place to live.”
Sen. Barrasso echoes his counterpart’s comments, adding, “The Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame is a great opportunity to highlight our state’s most outstanding farmers and ranchers. Past inductees have demonstrated a strong commitment to the stewardship of our land and production of high-quality livestock and feed. Wyoming’s ranchers also thrive on giving back to their local communities. Bobbi and I look forward to seeing everyone in Douglas this summer for the 25th anniversary of celebrating the very best in Wyoming agriculture.”
The top-tier of Wyoming’s agriculture industry is represented in the past inductees into the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame. Past winners are listed below, along with excerpts from their original nomination.
These excerpts have not been updated to include winners’ accomplishments since their induction.
1992 – Dennis Sun
The first ever Wyoming Agriculture Citizen of the Year Award, presented by the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, went to Dennis Sun of the Sun Ranch in Alcova for his work in developing the Cooperative Resource Management. The Sun Ranch was one of the original ranch to become involved with this movement. Sun was very much aware of the need for cooperation, unity and understanding among the ranchers and the BLM for the multiple uses demanded of federal lands today.
1993 – Ralph Urbigkeit
Ralph Urbigkeit of Crowheart, a veteran of 55 years of cattle and sheep ranching, is the 1993 Ag Citizen of the Year. Urbigkeit has been a member of the Farm Bureau and Farmers Union for many years. He served as an Emergency Medical Technician for four years and has been a Notary Public for the Crowheart area for 20 some years. He is a member of the Fremont County Pioneer Association and Fremont County Hay Producers Association.
1994 – Truman Julian
Truman Julian, co-winner of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup’s 1994 Wyoming Ag Citizen of the Year award, is, from every angle, a citizen of the West. Even a casual conversation with the man reveals several levels of commitment, concern and courage. The list of Julian’s organizational activity is impressive. What becomes apparent is his interest in local control over the things that shape the future – for individuals, communities and agriculture.
1994 – Don Rolston
Don Rolston of Cheyenne is one of two recipients of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup’s 1994 Wyoming Agricultural Citizen of the Year award. Born and raised on a ranch near Sheridan, Rolston earned an ag degree from the University of Wyoming and taught ag in Sundance for four years. He also served in Extension for over 25 years. After serving as Executive Vice President for the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Rolston returned to Wyoming to serve as Agriculture Commissioner from 1987 until April 1994.
1995 – Hubert Haas
A Torrington area rancher, Hubert Haas continued the legacy of his father, Geo F. Haas, in his registered cattle business. Their operation, known as Haas Farms, Inc. raised registered Angus cattle, which formed the nucleus of the G Bar H Cattle herd. Haas has had a tremendous influence on the cattle industry in Wyoming. Haas is active in the Wyoming Angus Association, and he has set up a number of tours to exhibit Angus seedstock breeders.
1995 – Lloyd Snider
Lloyd Snider homesteaded on the Ralston Bench in the Bighorn Basin. His reputation as an innovator who was always willing to try new things led to many developments on their operation. In 1950, he began developing his homesteaded land by removing sagebrush and transforming the land into a productive farm. Snider also conducted experiments with UW Extension involving lamb feeding and sugarbeet production. Snider had a profound influence on the agriculture industry in the Bighorn Basin and around the state. Snider was also an ag banker in Worland and Powell.
1996 – Robert McClurg
Hudson's Robert McClurg represents Wyoming agriculture through many avenues. His involvement in the Little Popo Agie Irrigation Distrct, Soil Conservation District, Fremont County Weed and Pest, Wyoming Wool Growers Association, Wyoming Stock Growers Association and others allows him to positively influence the industry. As a rancher in Lyons Valley, McClurg continues the traditions he learned growing up and advocates for the industry that he is an active part of. McClurg has also served as president of the National Rural Electric Association and is heavily involved in the state association, as well.
1996 – George and Herschel Griffin
George and Herschel Griffin ranch in Fremont County, where they faced a number of challenges head on. With challenges such as wild horses and other public lands grazing issues, the Griffins were active in working to address problems for grazers. Hershel served on the Wyoming State Grazing Board for many years, and the brothers also operated a farm near Hudson.
1997 – Stephen Miller
Steve Miller, a professor of Weed Science at the University of Wyoming, is an all-around researcher and educator. Miller’s research in weed science has helped many producers, not only in Wyoming but around the nation. He is also a strong teacher in the classroom and keeps students enthralled with his approach to weed management.
1997 – Ron Micheli
As Director of Agriculture, Ron Micheli has found a place to fully protect and make agriculture a top priority for the state of Wyoming. Micheli has spent countless hours protecting our state’s brucellosis-free status. His desire to design innovative predator management programs, create marketing opportunities, address water quality and wolf management and more have been a top priority for his tenure. Micheli also maintained his ties to ranching during the duration.
1998 – Stan and Mary Flitner
Stan and Mary Flitner of Shell received the Wyoming Agriculture Citizen of the Year award in 1998. Stan and Mary were born, raised and educated in Wyoming, and both attended the University of Wyoming. Stan and Mary are a team that has made a lasting impression on Wyoming agriculture. Their modesty and willingness to set personal gratification aside for the good of the industry and state is unsurpassed.
1998 – U.S. Sen. Craig Thomas
U.S. Sen. Craig Thomas started his leadership in the U.S. Senate in 1995. He repeatedly shows loyalty and support for Wyoming agriculture. Sen. Thomas was a leader in Wyoming Farm Bureau before he was elected to the U.S. Senate. Since his election, Sen. Thomas has championed ranchers. He readily recognizes the importance of agriculture in the state, noting the industry is necessary to meet economic needs while maintaining the state’s unique values.
1999 – Quentin Skinner
Quentin Skinner, professor of Rangeland Ecology and Watershed Management in the Department of Renewable Resources at UW of Laramie was co-recipient of the 1999 Ag Citizen of the Year Award. While he has focused his efforts in watershed management for two decades, he is equally recognized for his interests and accomplishments in grass taxonomy, rangeland plant ecology, grazing management and water quality.
1999 – Lois Herbst
Lois Herbst was one of two recipients of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup’s 1999 Wyoming Ag Citizen of the Year award. Herbst and her son Frank co-manage the Herbst Lazy TY Cattle Company near Shoshoni. Herbst is an outspoken advocate for agriculture and ranching. For a number of years, Herbst has divided her time between working on the ranch and focusing on western land management issues.
2000 – Doug Hixon
Doug Hixon of the University of Wyoming was honored for his impact on Wyoming’s cattle industry. Hixon was instrumental in starting the Wyoming Beef Cattle Improvement Association and has done a great deal to improve its activities since that time. He has judged livestock shows both nationally and internationally and is known worldwide for his knowledge about the livestock industry.
2000 – Bobbie Frank
At the Outstanding Agriculture Reception in 2000, Governor Jim Geringer introduced Bobbie Frank and thanked her for doing a phenomenal job as executive director of the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts. Frank has been instrumental in fighting the Clinton Administration’s Clean Water Action Plan. She also organizes the activities of Wyoming’s 23 conservation districts and serves as a voice for the agriculture community.
2001 – Frank Falen and Karen Budd-Falen
Frank Falen and Karen Budd-Falen, owners of Budd-Falen Law, were honored as Outstanding Ag Citizens on Aug. 17, 2001. Budd-Falen Law has been instrumental in protecting livestock permit renewals and made significant strides in protecting landowners from Endangered Species Act ramification. The firm, since inception, has been instrumental in protecting the rights of ranchers in Wyoming and the West.
2001 – Larry Bourret
Larry Bourret received the Outstanding Ag Citizen award on Aug. 17, 2001. Bourret, who serves as executive vice president of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation, is a highly respected agriculture leader in the state. He has been with Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation for 20 years. In that time, he has been a voice for Wyoming agriculture on several issues affecting the industry.
2002 – Jim and Marion Hageman
Jim and Marion Hageman were honored on Aug. 14, 2002 as Outstanding Ag Citizens. The Hagemans ranch near Fort Laramie, and Jim had served in the legislature for nearly 30 years at the time. During Hageman’s 30-year tenure in the legislature, he’s been instrumental in passing pro-agriculture legislation. One such piece of legislation ensured that Wyoming agriculture would be taxed on productivity, a measure protecting ag from ever-increasing land values.
2003 – Bill Taliaferro
Rancher Bill Taliaferro was honored for his outstanding contributions to the agriculture industry. Taliaferro is honest, straightforward and willing to listen to everyone’s opinion. He has served in a variety of capacities, including on the Wyoming Livestock Board, Wyoming State Grazing Board and Wyoming Wool Growers Association. Taliaferro also advocates for the sheep industry and for water rights issues.
2003 – Dan Hansen
Lusk rancher Dan Hansen was recognized for his work as a community leader, excellent rancher and educator. His contributions to the agriculture industry are far-reaching, spanning from a strong commitment to stewardship to providing an opportunity for Wyoming youth to receive hands-on agriculture education. Hansen uses holistic management to improve the condition of his land and maintain a profitable operation.
2004 – Jim Schwartz
As Deputy Director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, Jim Schwartz can be seen at nearly any gathering where decisions are being made that might have an impact on Wyoming agriculture. It’s no surprise he’s been described as “Wyoming ag’s biggest advocate.” That advocacy has earned Jim recognition as one of the people honored as an Outstanding Ag Citizen at the 2004 State Fair.
2004 – Doug and Cindy Thompson
If we had to describe Doug and Cindy Thompson using only two words, “civic minded,” would be an obvious first choice. The Thompsons were described as “one of the most outstanding ranch families when it comes to their knowledge on federal grazing land. They are the role model of how ranches should participate in federal land issues that affect them.”
2005 – Earl and Jewell Reed
Earl and Jewell Reed of Douglas were announced as 2005 inductees into the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame. The couple has spent all day working on the ranch only stopping long enough to change clothes and run to town for a meeting or to help the local 4-H Club. They’ve been untiring in their service and are role models for the rest of us working to improve Wyoming agriculture.
2005 – State Senator Gerald “Gerry” Geis
Sen. Gerald “Gerry” Geis of Worland was inducted into the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2005. Sen. Geis has demonstrated his commitment to Wyoming agriculture time and time again during his service in the Wyoming Legislature as Chairman of the Senate Ag Committee and has been a true friend to Wyoming agriculture.
2006 – Olin Sims
McFadden’s Olin Sims says one of the things he likes best about ranching is looking back at the end of the day and seeing what he’s accomplished. To really see the full scope of Sims’ accomplishments, one would need to see beyond the hayfield to Cheyenne to Washington, D.C. and back to the family farms and ranches where his work has made a difference. Sims’ efforts have earned him entrance into the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame.
2006 – Pat Litton
Campbell County rancher Pat Litton describes her and her late husband Bob Isenberger’s entry into ranching 50 years ago as a dream come true. Through hard times and challenges, Litton managed to grow the operation while also volunteering for Wyoming youth and the agricultural industry. That contribution to the industry was recognized during the 2006 Wyoming State Fair when Pat was inducted into the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame.
2007 – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi
Wyoming’s agricultural community honored U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi Aug. 15, 2007 in Douglas. Enzi is the only accountant in the U.S. Senate. His background comes as no surprise when one considers the business-minded approach he’s brought to the nation’s capitol. It’s an approach Wyoming and the nation have benefitted from.
2007 – State Representative Frank Philp
Frank Philp was first elected to the Wyoming Legislature in 1993 and was also a member of the Legislature’s Select Water Committee, the Rules and Procedures Committee and the Select Committee on Legislative Process and the Select Committee on Tribal Relations. His work in the legislature was broadly recognized as highly beneficial for the agriculture industry.
2008 – Jim Magagna
Jim Magagna was selected in 2008 to join the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame. Magagna, whose family has been ranching in western Wyoming for over 100 years, serves as executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. He’s served as president of the Wyoming Wool Growers Association, the National Public Lands Council and the American Sheep Industry Association.
2008 – Del Tinsley
Long-time Wyoming Livestock Roundup publisher Del Tinsley was inducted into the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2008 and has long been known for his willingness to take a stand on behalf of the state’s agricultural industry. Serving as state director for USDA Rural Development in Wyoming, Tinsley has brought increased awareness to opportunities for the state’s agricultural industry to grow and prosper.
2009 – George Salisbury
Ladder Livestock is one of Wyoming and America’s premier sheep operations. Its founding tale, a story shared by ranch patriarch George Salisbury, is laced with work ethic and a commitment to remain on the land. He and his older brother, five years his senior, began picking up bum lambs from area sheepherders who historically trailed 30,000 sheep a year through the mountain country around Ladder Livestock.
2009 – Rob and Leslie Hendry
Robert “Rob” and Leslie Hendry live about as far from Casper as is possible while still living within Natrona County. Distance, however, hasn’t deterred this ranching couple from volunteering their time to improve their community and the agricultural industry. Rob and Leslie often attend meetings or volunteer their time. The Hendrys’ efforts on behalf of their community resulted in their nomination and subsequent selection for the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2009.
2010 – Grant Stumbough
Grant Stumbough has spent most of his time working with Wyoming State Government, helping in the areas of drought, watershed improvement, public grazing issues, water quality, mediation, local empowerment, wild horse issues, endangered species issues, range management, carbon sequestration, wind energy development, to name a few.
2010 – Peto and Don Meike
Peto and Don reside on the Meike Ranch south of Kaycee, where they run cattle and sheep both on the ranch and on the south end of the Bighorn Mountains during the summer months. Between the two of them, Don and Peto have served every position available in the Johnson County Cattlemen’s, Wool Growers and Farm Bureau in addition to a number of other local and state positions.
2011 – Harriet Hageman
Harriet Hageman’s list of accomplishments on behalf of agriculture include such notable court cases as Nebraska v. Wyoming, State of Wyoming v. USDA and USES and Anderson v. Two Dot Ranch. Hageman is committed to education and is always willing to share her knowledge with producers, students and the public.
2011 – Neils Hansen
Credited with continuously challenging government agencies’ policies and collaborating to find practical solutions, Rawlins-area rancher Niels Hansen is also known for working with the energy industry on issues including reclamation, noxious weed control, dust control and roads. He is also widely recognized for working cooperatively with a variety of agencies.
2012 – Joel Bousman
Joel Bousman has been an integral part of the Wyoming ag industry. He is a recognized community leader in Sublette County in addressing issues related to extensive mineral development and wildlife habitat. He also runs his own ranch, Eastfork Livestock, and has served in leadership roles in many organizations across the state.
2012 – Gene Hardy
Gene Hardy is no stranger to the agriculture industry. The rancher runs sheep and cattle in northern Converse County, continuing the traditions of his family. He continually works to develop his herd and the genetics of the Wyoming sheep industry. Hardy’s involvement in Wyoming’s agriculture industry extends beyond his own operation, and he has taken an active role in a number of state organizations.
2013 – Dick Loper
With a focus on rangeland management, public lands planning and policy analysis, Dick Loper has been committed to Wyoming agriculture for his entire life. His background in range science, his knowledge of BLM policies and regulations and his relationship with the range science community across the West have enabled him to effectively assist Wyoming BLM permittees in addressing the challenges of public land grazing.
2013 – Jw and Thea Nuckolls
Since the 1950s, Jw and Thea Nuckolls have influenced Crook County and Wyoming agriculture through their leadership and dedication to the industry. They have long been associated with agriculture in Crook County and are well respected throughout the region and state for their many and varied contributions, and they are also incredible community leaders, consistently exhibiting honesty and strong work ethic in all they do in their business and personal lives.
2014 – Frank Moore
Converse County rancher Frank Moore’s continuing responsiveness to the needs of the agriculture industry have allowed him to make a lasting impact in Wyoming. Moore was intimately involved in the formation of the Mountain State Lamb Cooperative (MSLC) and has continued to be a pivotal leader in the sheep industry since.
2014 – Mary A. “Mickey” Thoman
A role model, mentor and a genuine leader, Mary A. "Mickey" Thoman is a Wyoming gal straight out of Western folklore. She brings unwavering guiding principles of determination and continuing commitment to every event that life places in her path. Thoman manages the daily operations of the fifth generation family ranching business in the Green River Valley below Fontenelle Reservoir, where they raise sheep, cattle and Quarter horses.
2015 – Shaun and Lacee Sims
Shaun and Lacee Sims have served in a wide array of capacities in the organizations that support Wyoming production agriculture, and they are also active in their community. They have served as educators, mentors and leaders on a variety of important issues affecting Wyoming’s agriculture industry, and their example of true leadership serves as a model for others.
2015 – Wayne and Kathy Tatman
Wayne and Kathy Tatman have a long history of service in the Wyoming agriculture industry and in their community of Lingle. They have strong roots in Wyoming agriculture and have both served in important educational roles through the University of Wyoming throughout their careers. The couple has worked as a team within their faith to raise a family and work with others within their respective professions – both in-state and out.
For 2016, the Wyoming Livestock Roundup is seeking nominations for your friends and neighbors who have contributed to the agriculture industry. Nominations are due May 20.
Visit wylr.net to download a nomination form.