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Outstanding Alumni - 2014

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Joel E. Bousman

Ag skills, you bet, but Bousman's other talents also draw outstanding alumni honor

2014 Outstanding Alumni Award - Joel Bousman

A monitor model

The Bousman's grazing allotment came under attack from the Forest Service in the 1990s.

Joel Bousman's collaborative, problem-solving skills that created a partnership between federal agencies and the university not only saved the ranch's grazing area, but also laid the path for other ranchers and agencies to follow across the West.

"We put together an initiative that actually trained the ranchers as well as the Forest Service range staff on how to monitor the impacts of grazing on public lands and furthered that effort," he says.

An active member of the Public Lands Council at the time, Bousman volunteered to chair a monitoring committee, which had promising results - memorandums of understanding with both the BLM and the Forest Service.

"(The memorandums) provided for the voluntary cooperative rangeland monitoring program that was officially recognized by both federal agencies and was made available to grazing permitees throughout the West, he says. "It's been fairly successful in different states across the West, and the university played a huge role in that."

Joel Bousman may have earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics, but it's his communication, leadership, and advocacy skills being acknowledged most as he receives the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources' 2014 Outstanding Alumni Award.

Generations of Bousmans have worked the Boulder-area land his family still operates. He decided to leave his Sublette County home after high school to attend the University of Wyoming, which he fondly refers to as "the university," and commission as an Army ROTC officer.

He focused on farm and ranch management.

"My idea at the time when I was in college was to learn the business skills and that sort of thing that I would need to be successful ranching," he says.

Life Changes Course

His dream had been to return to Boulder to ranch, but his course changed direction again after serving in the military.

"My father impressed on me - he was active and served on the school board, he served time as the county commissioner - he impressed on the entire family the need for public service," he recalls. "So, partly based on that and partly based on my prior experience, I did the school board route and now I'm running for my third term as (Sublette) County Commissioner."

Coke Landers, president of the Green River Valley Cattlemen's Association, described Bousman as, "A strong leader in each and every one of his peer groups," and went on to say, "Mr. Bousman is recognized and sought out for his expertise in public lands issues. A powerful spokesman for the ranching industry …"

The Wyoming Stock Growers Association states, "Without hesitation the public land-dependent livestock industry is stronger today due to Joel Bousman's leadership."

Cites High School, FFA

Bousman credits much of his success to the strong foundation of public speaking and social interaction during his youth. He shared his own accolades for former Pinedale High School teacher Tom Davidson, who wrote in support of his former student's nomination for the alumni award.

"I graduated in 1966, but Tom was my adviser for four years in high school. I had a great deal of respect for him," Bousman says.  "There's no question that had a lot to do with it because the leadership skills you learn in FFA during that stage of your life set the stage for realizing the necessity to communicate. Tom was adamant back in those days that we as FFA students participate in public speaking contests year after year."

His communication and problem solving skills, coupled with his passion for Wyoming's agricultural and public land issues, led to a myriad of involvement and accomplishments including but not limited to:

  • Public Lands Committee member of the National Association of County Officers,
  • Wyoming County Commissioners Association,
  • Western States County Commissioners Coalition of Local Governments,
  • Wyoming Stock Growers Association,
  • Green River Valley Cattlemen's Association,
  • Sublette County Conservation District Board of Supervisors,
  • 2005 Wyoming Game and Fish Department Pacesetter Award
  • 2003 Wyoming Stock Growers Association Environmental Stewardship Award
  • Member of the Wyoming Sage Grouse Conservation Planning Committee
  • Active member of the Wyoming Public Lands Coalition and National Public Lands Council

"I have testified several times before Congress - before committees, the House Natural Resource Committee, the Senate Public Lands Committee," says Bousman. "I guess a lot of that ability to do that goes clear back to high school and what we learned in public speaking and FFA - it's not something to be afraid of. It's something that you approach with the concept of how can you be the most effective."

Strong Collaboration Advocate

Bousman maintains that local, state and federal governments' partnerships and collaboration is what is best for the land and the people dependent upon it.

"One of the things I feel really good about - working a lot with the university and with the state government - is how county commissioners can be effective in helping to maintain the multiple use cultures of our rural communities - the different activities that occur especially in our public lands counties," he explains. "It involves working with the Forest Service and BLM to maintain public lands, grazing for example, understanding that and understanding the role that local government can play and taking maximum advantage of that role and coordinating with state government with resources through the university."

Bousman is continually called upon to voice his opinion, share insight, and problem solve. He says whenever he is asked for advice he always provides insight from how he sees "it on the ground - at ground level." The ground level is where his priorities are heading to next.

As an elected official, Bousman intends to work closely with the governor's office to further incorporate state and local governments with management of public lands. He cited hopes of involving the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and the university into the plans.

"The concept being that the best decisions are made at the local level with people working together on the ground who recognize what is truly happening on the ground, and making decisions that will benefit the land and the natural resource providers."

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College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

University of Wyoming

Department #3354

1000 E. University

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-4133

Fax: (307) 766-4030


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