University of Wyo. recognizes ag spokesman
October 12, 2015
An agricultural advocate at the state and national levels and whose roots are nestled against the western flanks of the Bighorn Mountains has received the Outstanding Alumni Award from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Ken Hamilton graduated in 1982 from the University of Wyoming with a bachelor's degree in animal science. He joined the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WFBF) in 1983 and is now executive vice president.
"Every decision and action Ken makes is led by his desire to keep the agriculture industry strong in Wyoming," says Perry Livingston, WFBF president.
UW animal science Emeritus Professor Connie Kercher, who was a nominator, noted Hamilton's communication efforts.
"He does an excellent job keeping the members informed about current agricultural issues," says Kercher. "He is straightforward and honest. His most important role, in my opinion, is his lobbying efforts in the Legislature."
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Hamilton received an associate's of art degree in pre-law at Northwest College after graduating from Manderson-Hyattville High School. From 1980-1981, he participated in an exchange program between the American Farm Bureau Federation and Agricultural Investments of Australia.
Hamilton worked as a ranch hand on the family operation near Hyattville after graduation from UW, then joined the WFBF in 1983, and has been the executive vice president since 2004.
He's worked with state and national agencies and Wyoming legislators on behalf of the agricultural industry.
Legislators are used to being pressed by lobbyists, and rancher Mark Semlek, a 12-year member of the body – six as chair of the House Agriculture Committee – says he valued Hamilton's input.
"I found over the years that Ken's experience, his diligent research, and understanding of the broad issues before our committee provided us with important and useful advice for directing policy and establishing laws that were in the best interest of Wyoming agriculture," says Semlek.
He notes Hamilton's most valuable contribution at the legislature was his testimony to the committee and found him effective in working with other committee members and legislators not committee members.
"I also found Ken to be very helpful to me, and I sought his advice on how he believed legislation should be crafted that could affect the agriculture industry," he notes. "Ken has a broad base of education, experience, interest and he has been a premier supporter of agriculture in Wyoming for many years."
So also says Kermit Brown, current speaker of the House from Laramie.
"He was always well-versed on issues related to agriculture and was a strong and effective advocate for the agricultural community in general and Farm Bureau members in particular," says Brown. "Time and again, he was a timely and deep resource on issues we faced in the legislature, and I personally found him to be a great reservoir of knowledge I could call on when I needed a deeper understanding on an issue."
Former legislator and rancher John Hines credits Hamilton's professionalism and honesty in the information he presented.
"Ken is the type of individual who represents his job, the university, and Wyoming in a manner that is very respected by those he comes in contact with," he says.
Positive impacts on Wyoming
Few have served the agricultural industry as well as Hamilton, and his efforts have had strong, positive impacts on Wyoming, especially in agriculture, says Brett Moline, director of government and public affairs with the WFBF.
On state-level issues, Hamilton has ensured agriculture's views are heard and understood.
"He has made changes that have been very positive for Wyoming farmers and ranchers, working to reduce potential negative impacts of governmental rules and regulations," notes Moline.
Nationally, Hamilton has diligently worked to have national policy that works as effectively as possible for Wyoming farmers and ranchers, he says.
"Ken has done a fantastic job making sure Wyoming farmers and ranchers are up-to-date on issues affecting them," notes Moline. "He uses every form of communication available to inform people and encourages involvement from those he serves."
Here is what others say about Hamilton:
"His work with the agricultural community reflects an in-depth understanding of the issues affecting agriculture and the ranching and farming professions." Mark Marquardt, emeritus of the Mountain West Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company
"Farm Bureau's purpose is to protect, promote, and represent the economic, social, and educational interests of American's agricultural people, not only at the state level but nationally as well. Ken's life and time at Farm Bureau have been truly dedicated to these principles." Dominique Giroux, office manager, Paragon Audit and Consulting, Denver.
–University of Wyoming