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About the Initiative

Mission

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Our mission is to open the door to new, innovative sheep and wool projects and initiatives that will help economically sustain the fabric of the rural west.

University of Wyoming’s College of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources began the Wyoming Wool Initiative in 2022 to support and grow Wyoming’s sheep and wool industry. In the 2017 Census of Agriculture, Wyoming ranked No.1 in wool production with 2,796,792 pounds shorn. Wyoming’s wool leaves the state for military contracts or sold as an international commodity where value is added outside Wyoming. The Wyoming Wool Initiative recognizes the value and potential of the raw wool produced in our state. Wyoming Wool Initiative wants to generate processing and manufacturing infrastructures that will allow Wyoming to add and retain value to its wool. By investing in the wool industry, Wyoming Wool Initiative is utilizing a sustainable material that already exists in the state. As Wyoming Wool Initiative continually works to grow the wool industry it is also maintaining Wyoming's agricultural heritage.

To ensure this unique heritage thrives, Wyoming Wool Initiative is actively engaged in research, programming and innovations that bolster and increase Wyoming’s ability to add value to its abundant supply of raw wool. Wyoming Wool Initiative is a non-profit organization supported by The University of Wyoming, public-private partnerships, and donations.


Meet Our Team

Whit-StewartWhit Stewart

Dr. Whit Stewart is an Assistant Professor and Extension Sheep Specialist for the state of Wyoming. His interests are conducting applied research and extension education for the betterment of the commercial sheep industry. As such he has an interest in placing students in careers that support the lamb and wool industries in the U.S., either directly or in support allied industries of nutrition, lamb processing, marketing, animal health, extension, and non-profit industry groups. Whit is also the advisor for the UW Collegiate Wool Growers and UW Intercollegiate Wool Judging team.

Scott LakeScott Lake

Dr. Scott Lake is a Full Professor, Director of Laramie R&E Center, Professor, and Beef Extension Specialist. His interests are conducting research in applied research in ruminant nutrition and management. In 2013 he served as a member of the Wyoming Sheep Quality Assurance Panel where he and colleagues obtained USDA funding to develop Extension materials for sheep producers.

Lindsay StewartLindsay Conley-Stewart

Lindsay is the Manager and Project Coordinator for Wyoming Wool Initiative. Lindsay’s interests are non-profit work and entrepreneurial endeavors related to the wool industry. Prior to joining the Wyoming Wool Initiative, she launched and managed UWYO’s Blanket Project. She is a UWYO alumnus with a BFA in Visual Arts. Lindsay works to collaborate across colleges within University of Wyoming to raise awareness for the wool industry and is engaged with regional and national wool organizations.

Kalli Koepke

Kalli Koepke

Kalli Koepke is an LREC assistant manager and sheep unit manager and works alongside Drs. Cody Gifford, Whit Stewart, Hannah Hollinger, Derek Scasta, and Jeremy Block on various research projects. Kallie received a bachelor's degree from UWYO in animal science production with an emphasis in sheep production. Kalli is an essential team member in many of LREC’s programs and initiatives. She works diligently to support the annual Wyoming Wool Growers Ram Sire Tests, Lamb-a-Year Program, Wyoming Wool Initiative. Outside of work, Kalli is an active member and contributor to Wyoming Wool Growers Association and Albany County 4-H.

 

 

Graduate Students

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Courtney Newman

Courtney Newman is an M.S. Student under the direction of Drs. Whit Stewart and Cody Gifford. Courtney’s project will look at the potential use of blockchain technology in the U.S. Sheep Industry. She hopes her work will help those in the sheep industry begin to understand where they can utilize new technologies and ultimately help the entire sheep industry to continue to grow and progress. Courtney intends on continuing a career in the U.S. Sheep Industry. She is from Fort Collins, Colorado.

Dylan Laverell

Dylan Laverell

Dylan Laverell is an M.S. Student under the direction of Dr. Whit Stewart. Dylan master’s project will look at defining Calcium levels in clinical and sub-clinical ewes. Dylan finds fulfillment working in the sheep industry as he meets producers that work to produce sustainable food and fiber. He is from Big Timber, MT.

Hannah Fraley

Hannah Fraley

Hannah Fraley is an M.S. Student in Rangeland Ecology and Watershed Management under the direction of Drs. Whit Stewart and Derek Scasta. Hannah’s master’s project involves utilizing targeted grazing to control the toxic plant Geyer’s larkspur (Delphinium geyeri). Larkspur is a native perennial species, making control difficult and problematic. Sheep have a much higher tolerance to the alkaloids present in larkspur species, thus making their use in targeted grazing management effective and advantageous. Hannah will be looking into both how intensive grazing strategies affect larkspur and present desirable vegetation, and what impacts grazing a toxic plant species might have on the sheep which consume it. The outcomes of this project will be valuable to ranchers and livestock managers in areas of high larkspur abundance. As Hannah works with sheep grazing she is gaining a greater appreciation and perspective of the multifaceted benefits of sheep. Hannah is from Buffalo, WY.

Aaron Kersh

Aaron Kersh

Aaron Kersh is an M.S. Student under the direction of Dr. Whit Stewart and Dr. Derek Scasta. Aaron’s project is focusing on targeted grazing using hair and wool sheep to determine if sheep grazing will reduce larkspur abundance on rangelands. Aaron’s project will be determining changes in forage quality and comparing dietary preference and selection between dissimilar sheep breeds. Aaron is passionate about agriculture and the heritage associated with the sheep industry. Aaron believes producing sustainable lamb and fiber is a noble pursuit and is eager to be a part of the sheep industry.


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