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Wyoming Women In Ag Symposium

Tiffany Schwenke
for Tri-State Livestock News

Not only was Wyoming Territory the first government in the world to pass a law allowing women unrestricted voting rights—the territory and state can claim a lengthy number of other firsts as well in women’s rights. Wyoming is a vast rangeland with men and women tending to crops and livestock in all types of weather and challenging circumstances.

Wyoming Women In Ag is a group of these hard working women who come together to support, educate, and encourage each other.

Wyoming Women In Ag’s mission is: To recognize women’s important role in agriculture, their unique interest and needs, thereby building a network of support.

The 2019 Wyoming Women In Ag Symposium focused on encouraging women to be involved in agriculture, educating all people about agriculture in real life as well as through social media, and celebrating 150 Years of Wonderful Wyoming Women. The event was held in Casper, WY Friday Nov. 14 and Saturday Nov. 15.

Friday evening was a fun, well attended, event at Guner Brothers Brewery where Carrie Portal shared her life changing story of how she was hit by a drunk driver and has persevered to be a very high functioning partially disabled person by making her farm work her physical therapy and her family and animals as motivation. With videos from first responders of her wreck to videos of her taking her first steps again after over a year being wheelchair bound, her story of tragedy and triumph was inspirational. Following Carrie’s presentation, Laci Nelson stepped up and entertained with her original lyrics and some reworked classic songs that she bedazzled with her own country /bluesy sound.

Saturday morning keynote speaker Peggy DesEnfants spoke with real life experiences of learning about ranch life in a trial-by-fire sort of way as she had always lived in town until she married her rancher husband. Peggy made many laugh with her comedic view about learning some of the ranch terminology and ways of doing things. Peggy spoke of how no matter how hard the job gets or heartbreaking circumstances, we must always keep trying to find the good in the situation or as Peggy says, “Looking For Diamonds.”

Also featured at the symposium were breakout speakers, The Beef – Dr. Steve Paisley, The Dirt – Marlon Winger, The Crime – Cole Ehmke, The Weeds – Matt Jolivet, The Dogs – Cat Urbigkit, The Emergency – Jennifer Straight. All the talks were well attended and interactive with informative question and answer sessions at the end.

After lunch, a panel of three women ranchers who all have different types of operations answered questions on a variety of topics ranging from day to day operation challenges to healthcare options for self employed rancher and farmer families. The panel was made up of Tina Graham-Avery who has a multi generational cattle operation; Lindsey Wood, who is a first generation cattle rancher with an husband who is in a non-ag profession but learning the ways of ranching quickly by necessity; and Cat Urbigkit who has a large sheep with guardian dogs and several published books about them.

When asked about challenges in cattle ranching Avery-Graham stated, “We had a multitude of challenges in 2019. Everything from low cattle prices, unstable cattle market, making us weigh options of going to an all yearling operation. We had bitter cold months early in the year. We were digging calves out of snow drifts in the spring. Then we had a lot of rain which caused washy grass, which caused not as good for gains on our calves. Also, because of heavy rainstorms it was hard to get brandings done. Day-in and day-out of hard ranch work is good character building, so I’d say, we are all a bunch of characters.”


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