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UW College of Agriculture to Honor Contributors
August 31, 2009 — Wheatland and Big Horn Basin natives, a Cody manufacturer and a retired faculty member who taught more than 35 years in the College of Agriculture will be honored during Ag Appreciation Weekend at the University of Wyoming.
The College of Agriculture's outstanding alumni, research partner and legacy winners will be recognized Sept. 25-26 during a celebration of the importance of agriculture to Wyoming's history, culture and economy.
Keith Geis, a 1975 UW graduate and president of Platte Valley Bank in Wheatland, and Steve Tharp, who graduated from UW in 1976 and established a veterinary practice in Worland, will be honored as outstanding alumni.
Leroy Maki of Laramie, who taught microbiology, is the legacy award winner, and Y-TEX Corp. of Cody, which manufactures identification and insecticide ear tags and other products, is this year's outstanding research partner.
The honorees will be recognized during the Dean's Ag Appreciation Dinner Friday, Sept. 25, and during the UW vs. University of Nevada, Las Vegas football game Saturday.
Keith Geis was uprooted to Laramie as a high school junior from the dairy he grew up on southwest of Wheatland and then was sidetracked to Alabama and Iowa before returning to his hometown.
Crisscrossing the country, raising a family, and returning to the Wheatland area haven't seemed to alter the ideals Geis was taught when young.
"I'm an advocate of being the very best you should be and giving back to the world around you," said Geis about what he would say to UW freshmen. "Pay your dues forward. Do something for someone else, and don't expect anything in return. If you do, you will be successful no matter what you do."
A cowboy creed hangs on his office wall. Spurs rest in a cubby hole not far from his desk.
"Anyone who knows Keith knows he loves Wyoming and the University of Wyoming," wrote Billie Addleman of the Hirst Applegate law firm in Cheyenne. "He wears that passion on his sleeve, and I cannot think of a better ambassador of our state and university than Keith Geis."
Dennis Sun, publisher of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup in Casper, has served with Geis on several nonprofit organizations. "The values and passion he has in helping others is unequaled in Wyoming," noted Sun.
Worland veterinarian/author Steve Tharp carries on the legacy of veterinarian/author James Herriot but with a pronounced Wyoming flavor, said those who nominated him.
Tharp might not have a pen name, but he has a collection of writings, a reputation as an outstanding veterinarian, good humor, and admirable character - just like the late James Alfred Wight, who practiced veterinary medicine in England and became widely known for his semi-autobiographical short stories under the pen name James Herriot.
"Many times while visiting Steve's clinic, I am reminded of the James Herriot series of books beginning with The Lord God Made Them All," stated Worland resident and former state legislator Jane Wostenberg in her nomination letter. "Steve could easily have been the main character in these stories, and I often think of him as the James Herriot of the Big Horn Basin."
College of Agriculture's Department of Veterinary Sciences Professor Donal O'Toole added, "Steve is something of a Wyoming character. He enlivens veterinary meetings with his wisdom, humor and common sense. He is an important part of his community, and he plays this part with good humor, generosity, civility and grace."
Research Partner of Year
A direct response by taking a swat at biting insects that pummeled Wyoming sheep with bluetongue disease and the sheep ked is one of many reasons Y-TEX Corp. of Cody is the recipient of the Research Partner of the Year award.
The company, established in 1967, manufactures identification ear tags, insecticide ear tags, and other animal health products such as dusts and pour-ons that target livestock insects. The company created its first impregnated ear tag for control of the Gulf Coast ear tick on cattle in southern states, and it now manufactures insecticide cattle ear tags for various pests. These tags are marketed in the U.S. and exported from Cody to 12 countries.
"Since then, Y-TEX has become a national leader in developing insecticide ear tags and other specialty insecticide formulations for the livestock industry," said Jack Lloyd, professor emeritus in the College of Agriculture's Department of Renewable Resources. "They have been particularly instrumental in developing products to prevent and control insecticide resistance."
Leroy Maki was a longtime College of Agriculture faculty member who helped launch the microbiology program, established a scholarship fund for students, and was considered an exceptional teacher.
"Dr. Leroy Maki has made a lasting difference in the microbiology program both in terms of teaching and financial support," said Anne Leonard, college relations officer for the College of Agriculture.
Added Department of Veterinary Sciences Professor E. Lee Belden, who had Maki as a teacher and then became a colleague: "Teaching was clearly a very strong point of Dr. Maki's. He was well prepared, very well organized, and as honest a person as you could find. He taught life lessons, and one way he did that was by having a genuine concern for his students."
Maki taught microbiology from 1955 to 1990.
"I most enjoyed the association with the students," Maki said. "I enjoyed teaching them, and I was always in the laboratories helping them."
Posted on Monday, August 31, 2009