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# Wyoming History Day: Skill-building for Statistics

Wyoming State Board of Education Content & Performance Standard:

• Social Studies--Production, Distribution, and Consumption
• Social Studies--Time, Continuity, and Change
• Social Studies--People, Places, and Environment
• Social Studies--Processes and Skills

Learner Outcomes:

• Students will be able to understand statistical information and trends presented in graph format.
• Students will also be able to understand the relationship of historical events to fluctuations in the graph.

Related Points of Discussion:

• What are other kinds of statistics and graphs that can provide valuable historical information?

Suggested activities:

The appendix to this exercise has a chart containing national statistics for sheep and lamb production, as well as a bar graph and statistical information illustrating values of production in Wyoming during a comparable period. Have students do the following:

Create a bar graph reflecting the production statistics for three of the crops included in the statistical data for Graph 3. Research Wyoming weather data for the years 1990 to 1999. Does any of the information contained in the weather data account for the crop fluctuations illustrated in the student’s bar graph?

Compare the data regarding national sheep and lamb production in Graph 2 with the Wyoming statistics provided for Graph 3. Is Wyoming’s sheep industry faring better, worse, or on average when compared to national production statistics?

Research available information regarding trends in Wyoming’s sheep industry during a period comparable to Graphs 2 and 3. Newspapers, industry publications and State of Wyoming Internet listings are all possible sources. Does the information students locate support the information contained in Graphs 2 and 3?

Historical Background:

Statistics, graphs, and charts can be found in research sources. You can also gather information to make your own. Graphs can very useful in comparing historical trends of things that can be measured or counted.

The graph in this activity is a compilation of data that shows the number of farms and ranches in Wyoming in the period from 1910 to 1990. Read the following information on the historical background from 1909 to 1960 to determine what effect, if any, these events may have had on the number of farms and ranches in Wyoming.

 Year(s) Event 1909-1913 Dry-Farming increases in Wyoming 1916 Grazing Homesteads of 640 acres made available in Wyoming 1917 United States enters World War I; approximately 12,000 Wyoming men entered military service 1918 Deadly Spanish Influenza epidemic spreads to Wyoming, 780 fatalities reported 1919 Wyoming suffers severe drought; Census figures indicate15,748 farm and ranch units in Wyoming with an average size of 749.9 acres 1920-1926 Thousands of homesteaders gave up and either abandoned their lands or sold them to more successful neighbors 1927 Unusually wet year results in bumper crops in Wyoming 1929 Census figures indicate16,011 farm and ranch units in Wyoming with an average size of 1,469 acres; 3% of Wyoming’s total acreage used for farming 1930-1936 Wyoming suffers from a nearly continuos drought 1939 - 1945 Crop prices increased by 131% 1940 Wyoming’s rural population reported at 72,674; Number of Wyoming farm and ranch units 15,018, with an average size of 1,866 acres 1941 United States enters World War II 1945 "The greatest industry in the State of Wyoming is agriculture and its kindred activity, the raising of livestock, " Governor Lester C. Hunt reported to the legislature 1950 Wyoming’s rural population reported at 56,704 1951 Number of Wyoming farm and ranch units 9,705, with an average size of 3,715 acres 1960 Wyoming’s rural population reported at 48,132

Graph 1

Follow-Up Questions:

• What events between 1909 and 1920 might account for the increase in the number of farms and ranches in Wyoming. Why?
• Did the number of farms and ranches in Wyoming increase, decrease or remain about the same between 1921 and 1925? What might account for this?
• Did the number of farms and ranches in Wyoming increase, decrease or remain about the same between 1926 and 1930? What might account for this?
• In 1929, which was more important to Wyoming’s economy, the livestock industry or farming? What data supports this conclusion?
• Between 1930 and 1936 did the number of farms and ranches in Wyoming decline or increase? What data supports this conclusion?
• What might account for the decline in the number of farms and ranches in Wyoming after 1940?

Statistics Activity – Appendix