New UW Extension Educator Bolsters Local Food Efforts

head photo of a woman
Jennifer Faulkner

University of Wyoming Extension welcomes Jennifer Faulkner as a local foods coordinator in UW’s Department of Agricultural and Applied economics.

Faulkner grew up on a Wyoming cattle ranch and managed a ranch operation in Riverton for three years. As a rancher, she was highly active in the local foods movement and sold meat, dairy and produce to local customers.

Faulkner’s experience with agriculture and passion for local foods serve her well in her new role.

“Jen rolled up her sleeves and hit the ground running, finding creative solutions to grow and strengthen Wyoming’s producers and food entrepreneurs,” says Anders Van Sandt, UW Extension specialist and assistant professor of regional economics in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. “She brings a unique blend of thoughtful determination and innovation emblematic of her Wyoming ranching roots.”

Faulkner’s position is funded by the Northwest Rocky Mountain Regional Food Business Center grant, which is led by Oregon State University and Colorado State University. Members of the food business center team work within their individual states as well as across a six-state region to develop a robust regional food system.

Those funded by this grant serve underinvested communities and small- to medium-sized food businesses. Their aim is to help small food businesses grow and connect food entrepreneurs to resources; support investment in effective infrastructure; and build meat supply chain capacity and resilience.

Over the first eight months of this grant, which launched in summer 2023, the food business center team has already impacted Wyoming’s food landscape. In particular, it has connected Wyoming food businesses to wholesalers and other resources.

Last month, the team sponsored a workshop at the statewide Wyoming Food Coalition conference, which is dedicated to bringing together food system leaders from across the state. The workshop showed participants how to move from a home kitchen into a shared commercial space.

Faulkner is excited to keep improving Wyoming’s food system infrastructure.

“I’m especially eager to connect local food producers with resources and technical assistance to promote successful operations,” she says. “I want to help foster a sense of community around the state of Wyoming.”

Faulkner assumed her new position in early 2024. She can be emailed at

About University of Wyoming Extension

Since 1914, UW Extension has provided lifelong learning opportunities to Wyoming citizens across the state. With roots in agricultural education, UW Extension supports rural communities facing contemporary challenges and changes. UW Extension brings the university’s resources to each of the state’s 23 counties and the Wind River Indian Reservation. To learn more, visit or call (307) 766-5124.

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