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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

Email: agrdean@uwyo.edu

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Outstanding Alumni - 2019

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Jason Fearneyhough

Wyoming forged foundation to leverage life’s opportunities

Jason Fearneyhough

An internship in Washington, D.C., during Jason Fearneyhough’s undergraduate career for former Wyoming Rep. Craig Thomas set the course of his life.

“That opportunity opened my eyes that I could be involved in agriculture in a way that I never thought possible through policy and helping agribusiness do the things that they do in a broader sense than they were aware of,” said Outstanding Alumni Award recipient, Fearneyhough.

Fearneyhough graduated from the University of Wyoming with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and then a master’s in business administration.

Fearneyhough said many of the professors went out of their way to ensure their students had opportunities.

“They were interested in what you had to say and what you thought about issues,” Fearneyhough said. “Moving forward, that gives you confidence.”

Fearneyhough said he believes Wyoming people often feel as if they are at a disadvantage coming from such a small state, but he believes the opposite.

“Because you come from a small place like Wyoming and you have the interaction with great people in the university and throughout the state in the industry, you get opportunities you can take advantage of that you don’t see at a larger place,” Fearneyhough said. “That’s something really unique and wonderful about our great state.”

Agricultural positions of influence

Fearneyhough has served as deputy director and director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA) and currently serves as the deputy commissioner of agriculture for Texas.

During his time as WDA director, Fearneyhough was appointed by two governors with different political affiliations, led an agency consisting of six divisions and about 100 employees and was a cabinet-level official directing an agency with a $35 million budget.

“While here in Wyoming, he led numerous efforts to tear down existing ‘silos’ and build truly lasting, impactful management on the ground,” said nominator Bob Budd, executive director of the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust.

Elevating the influence of WDA’s Natural Resources and Policy Division was one of his most significant contributions, according to Budd. This division is considered a bench mark in the Intermountain West for other state departments of agriculture, according to Budd.

In Texas, Fearneyhough is managing a global-scale agency with more than 650 employees with an annual budget surpassing $1 billion.

“In his current role, Jason actually leads the Department of Agriculture in one of the nation’s most productive and diverse natural resource landscapes,” said Budd.

Texas ranks sixth in the world in agricultural exports, is first in the nation in cattle, cotton, hay, sheep and goats, and leads the nation with 250,000 farms and ranches covering over 130.2 million acres.

Maintaining an active role in international agricultural trade issues has allowed Fearneyhough to triple the number of international markets from 10 to 30 for Texas producers during his tenure. He also created the Texas Global Initiative, which is collaborative between other agencies and universities to increase international trade opportunities not just for farmers and ranchers but for all businesses.

Commitment to youth programs

Fearneyhough volunteers as the executive board chairman for Wyoming Future Business Leaders of America.

“As a student, those extracurricular activities really shaped my life, and it’s important to me now to support them at every level,” Fearneyhough said.

While serving in WDA, Fearneyhough saw a need to create a program for students to voice their opinions in the agricultural arena. This led to the development of the Agri Future Program.

Agri Future connects upper-level undergraduate and graduate students with influential leaders in the agriculture industry. This was a way to ensure students could have a seat at the table to voice their opinions and ideas related to agriculture.

There were a few Agri Future conferences in Wyoming, and it grew into central Nebraska, and New Mexico took the idea as well. There were international, high school, and college students, professors and industry leaders of all ages.

While the program is not currently active, it was a way to get everyone together and talking about potential agricultural action items, said Fearneyhough.

Fearneyhough has received many notable awards, such as:

Wyoming Department of Agriculture: Pacesetter Award, 2015

United States Department of Interior: Partners in Conservation Award, 2011

Wyoming Wool Growers Association: Compadre Award, 2010

Wyoming Future Business Leaders of America: Business Person of the Year, 2009

“You would not suspect Jason of his accomplishments because in his Wyoming way, he is someone who gets the job done while giving credit to others and deflecting praise with a level of humility that is unsurpassed,” said Budd. “Jason is someone who truly ‘rides for the brand,’ and his brand is Wyoming and agriculture.”

Contact Us

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

Email: agrdean@uwyo.edu

Find us on Facebook (Link opens a new window) Find us on Twitter (Link opens a new window) Find us on YouTube (Link opens a new window)

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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