Ag involvement earns honors for ThalerWritten by Saige Albert
LaGrange – Dennis Thaler’s family started ranching in southeast Wyoming in 1916, and today, Thaler continues the ranch as the third generation on the property.
“What started as a 320-acre homestead has grown into a 20,000-plus acre farm and ranch,” says Wayne Tatman, a former University of Wyoming Extension educator. “Dennis took the reins of the operation in 1965, when the ranch’s goal changed from buying more land to improving what they had and optimizing their natural resources.”
Thaler, his wife Sandy and his daughter and son-in-law Brandy and Kevin Evans, run the ranch, which will celebrate its centennial this year. The ranch runs a cow/calf/yearling operation, along with a backgrounding feedlot.
They also raise small grains, oats, millet, wheat and alfalfa-grass hay.
Lex Madden of Torrington Livestock Auction adds, “Dennis has been a leader and mainstay in many ways in Goshen County throughout his lifetime.”
In recognitition of his leadership and service to the agriculture industry, Thaler will be inducted into the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame Aug. 17 during the Wyoming Ag Hall of Fame picnic, held in Douglas.
“Dennis has been a driving force for agriculture in Goshen County and the state of Wyoming for more than 28 years that I have worked with him. He has been involved in many different aspects of agriculture,” adds Steve Brill, retired supervisor of Goshen County Weed and Pest.
“Dennis, like his uncle and father, has been an agriculturalist, innovator, conservationist and top-notch manager in every sense of the word,” Tatman comments. “He has improved his natural resource base several fold by his efforts to implement integrated management systems to both improve the production of the land base to run more cows while also improving the land resource, enhancing wildlife habitat and conserving and improving the environment.”
Thaler has utilized a variety of available programs to improve water resources and implement new grazing systems that encompass a holistic grazing management philosophy.
Madden adds, “Dennis and Sandy have worked to improve the genetics of their cattle and consistently top the market with their livestock.”
In his ranching career, Tatman says that Thaler has worked with a variety of organizations to improve his operation, including the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Weed and Pest and more.
“Maybe one of the most impressive aspects of his management philosophy is that he practices a systems approach, whereby his management team consists of everyone involved in the operation, in addition to other stakeholders,” Tatman explains. “A teamwork approach is truly practiced and utilized to plan and implement management decisions.”
In recognizing his work on the land, Thaler and his family were awarded the 2006 Environmental Stewardship Award, a regional and national award, and he is a member and co-chair of the Goshen County Coordinated Resource Weed Management Program.
Example for the community
While he spends much of his time on the ranch, Thaler is also actively involved in the community.
“In looking at the size and scope of the Thaler operation, one of the most amazing impacts it has on the community, county, state and region is that the family is readily willing to share all their experiences with everyone – from school kids and teachers to fellow producers, agency officials, research personnel, commodity groups and others,” Tatman says.
Robert Ward, a LaGrange rancher who grew up with Thaler, continues, “Dennis is definitely one of the most civic-minded people I know. He has set the bar pretty high for the rest of us on more than one occasion, and his commitment is highly evident throughout his ranch.”
The Thalers host tours, field days and workshops on their operation regularly to inform others about their practices.
At the same time, Thaler has been involved on a number of community boards and is a member of county, state and national organizations, including the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts, Wyoming Stock Growers Association and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. He was also instrumental in founding the Wyoming Private Lands Grazing Team.
Tatman and others also recognize that at the same time he improved the ranch, Thaler also worked to pass it on to his family.
“Dennis has worked tirelessly to improve the graze-ability of the ranch to be able to pass it on to future generations,” says Madden. “He is working to do this by bringing in his son-in-law Kevin Evans to take over the ranching operation.
Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts Executive Director Bobbie Frank says, “Dennis is one of those quiet guys who makes a big difference.”
She continues, “He is an example of a thoughtful leader and a true conservationist. He is dedicated to the industry through and through.”
“He is an innovative, sound thinker, as well as a risk taker,” Tatman comments. “A manager on the cutting edge that readily accepts challenges and risks, Dennis is a mover and shaker, a solid businessman and an exceptional manager of natural resources, livestock, crops and human capital.”