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Research/Outreach Partner - 2014

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Wyoming Stock Growers Association

Wyoming Stock Growers Association

Research/Outreach Partner Award recipient's roots pre-date the state

Not many state associations can claim to dip their baby boots in pre-Wyoming Wyoming.

This year's Outreach Partner Award recipient can.

Cattlemen organized the Wyoming Stock Growers Association April 4, 1872 - the first association in Wyoming Territory and the second cattlemen's organization in the United States. The University of Wyoming wouldn't open its doors until 1886, and that was only the doors on the Old Main building, which held classes, the library, and administrative offices the first years.

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources didn't come along until 1891.

The WSGA and college relationship has been beneficial since the college's inception, says executive vice president Jim Magagna.

The WSGA was supportive of the creation of UW as a land-grant institution and recognized the crucial role the college of agriculture would play in the development of the livestock industry.

"I think that continues today," Magagna notes. "Through research, through educating the majority of young people who end up back in our industry, and certainly through the interactions that take place on a daily basis with the extension personnel across the state. Our association places a high priority on our relationship with the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the university."

Handle Old Challenges, Face New Ones

Jim MagagnaJim Magagna, WSGA Executive Vice-President

Cattle and sheep ranchers are now four and five generations deep in Wyoming and face some of the same problems - range condition, production - as those first ranchers, but there are new challenges.

"We are facing so many challenges to our use of public lands and resources, both from the environmental community and federal land agencies and others," says Magagna. "We are engaged in a project with the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management to conduct surveys of producers to determine and demonstrate the importance of public lands to the ranching industry throughout Wyoming and the West. That's going to have a huge benefit to us as an industry."

That research will be conducted by master's student Philip Lavallee in the department under the direction of Professor John Tanaka, head of the department.

The Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory is an essential tool for cattle producers, he says, noting in particular brucellosis research and testing. The college has assisted sheep producers in the area of diseases, such as scrapie. The college is conducting research into ways sheep ranchers can anticipate and perhaps mitigate outbreaks of the cyclical disease bluetongue in sheep.

Skepticism Healthy

Not every idea from the college is openly embraced by all producers, "and we wouldn't expect that," says Magagna.

Certain things work for some depending upon resources and their philosophies.

"And certainly things have probably come out of the university that the industry and at times we as an organization looked at and said, "How is that helping us?" he says. "With the relationship as complex and intense between Wyoming agriculture and college of agriculture, I think that's inevitable, and it's healthy there is skepticism at times."

Another challenge seems tougher to crack - communicating information to producers about useful research information from the college, including tools a producer could use and the applied research being conducted.

"Both the college and the organization work hard to deal with it," he says. "There will always be room for improvement. We view it as important to help make the ranching community aware of what the university has to offer."

The association publishes a quarterly magazine, a monthly newsletter, and a biweekly electronic newsletter while maintaining a website directed at producers. The college publishes magazines with research articles.

"The information is out there," Magagna says. "Getting busy producers to take the time to study it and become aware of it is our ongoing challenge. Despite this being the information age, most farmers and ranchers are too busy to spend too many hours in a day to look at information. I don't think there is a simple answer."

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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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