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University of Wyoming Alumni Association

Jim Nielson

Jim Nielson

2016 UW Distinguished Alumnus

Photo of Jim Nielson Distinguished Alumni

Jim Nielson believes in sharing his resources—time and finances—and he’s given both to the University of Wyoming.

“I like to help with education,” says Jim. “It helped me. I like to give some of that back. I’m a strong believer in our University of Wyoming.”

He grew up on a farm near Cody where they had sheep, cows, and horses and raised hay, grain, and one year, peas. There are stories about how Jim and his family would rush every summer to harvest their crops so that they could receive peak prices from a Cowley vegetable cannery. Today, the farm site is the Olive Glenn Golf Course, which is named for his mother and father. It is one of many philanthropic endeavors that Jim and his family have supported to benefit Cody. The others include Boy and Girl Scouts camps, Mormon churches, various ranches, plus involvement in medical facilities, museums, housing developments, and the Yellowstone Regional Airport. But his giving extends well beyond the city limits of Cody.

Jim graduated from UW in 1954 with a degree in business administration. He credits his education for preparing him for his life and career, and he appreciated that the university was small enough to get to know his instructors and other students on a personal level. He formed many lifelong friendships with people he met at UW and throughout the state.

“It’s still small in comparison to most of the state universities in this country,” explains Jim. “You can still be an individual and you can still know your instructor and be able to sit down and talk with them. It’s more personal.”

He continues, “My education hasn’t just stopped with the time spent in Laramie. I have been able to go back and talk with instructors and have personal contacts with the university to this day.”

After graduation, he spent three plus years in the U.S. Navy as a commissioned officer in the Supply Corp, then joined Husky Oil, a company that was founded by his father. He did everything from roughneck to marketing, exploration, refining, and eventually serving as executive vice president of exploration and production and president and CEO. Husky Oil’s Nielson family interest was sold in 1979 to the national oil company PetroCanada. After this, Jim was the president and CEO of JN Oil and Gas Company, a partnership with the principals and founders of Winn-Dixie (1979 to 1992).

In 1992, Jim became the founder and president of Nielson & Associates, Inc., an oil and gas company in Cody, Wyoming. He served as a board member for the Wyoming Pipeline Authority for 28 years, serving under four governors and is a former director of the Denver branch of the Kansas City Federal Reserve. He has also served as president of the Rocky Mountain Oil and Gas Association in Denver and has been involved in many other boards in Wyoming, Colorado, and Houston.

Jim is a strong advocate for the state of Wyoming. Aside from the energy industry, he believes in tourism as a major industry, and feels the state can do a better job of marketing itself to visitors. Wyoming has a lot to offer, with Yellowstone National Park 96% in our state, Teton National Park 100% in Wyoming, Devil’s Tower, the various Native American personalities, and rich history. He wants tourists to visit so they can appreciate and experience the year-round beauty of the state he calls home.

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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