At an annual conference in Casper last month, the University of Wyoming Extension recognized educators across the state for outstanding service in 2022.
Hill receives UW Extension’s Highest Honor
In his 20 years with UW Extension, agriculture and natural resources educator and 2022 Jim DeBree award recipient Hudson Hill has diligently served not only his assigned counties, but the entire state of Wyoming.
“The creative methods Hudson uses for education are great examples of his remarkable teaching abilities,” writes a fellow educator. “He is always able to connect with an audience and convey information that is easy to understand.”
Throughout his lengthy career with UW Extension, Hill has consistently delivered quality programming on topics ranging from dairy production and artificial insemination to horticulture and ATV safety. He has taught safe handling practices for poultry processing in every county in Wyoming.
In 2021, Hill co-founded Wyoming Ranch Camp, a new hands-on program designed to educate young adults interested in working on, with, or around ranching operations. He also coordinates the Wyoming-Utah Ag Days program.
“People enjoy getting to know him,” says Barton Stam, president of the Wyoming Association of County Agricultural Agents. Whether it’s at a chicken processing workshop, artificial insemination class or Ranch Camp session, “people are comfortable to learn with him and grow.”
Hill is currently the longest-employed UW Extension area educator in the state.
Sheridan County educator named Newer Employee of the Year
Emily Swinyer, Sheridan County 4-H youth development educator, received UW Extension’s Newer Employee Award. This honor recognizes excellent performance in employees with no more than six years in the UW Extension.
Swinyer has “complete reinvigorated the 4-H program in Sheridan County,” writes one nominator. “One of the things I appreciate about Emily (beyond the fact that she lives and breathes 4-H in her community) is her ability to foster community support for the 4-H program.”
Her impact extends beyond Sheridan County. In addition to revamping the 4-H volunteer program in her community and establishing partnerships with local businesses, Swinyer has created virtual SPIN (Special Interest) clubs available to youth across the state.
“She is a consummate team player,” her colleagues report.
Organizer of “Heart of Gold” Livestock Show recognized for diversity and inclusion efforts
For her efforts to extend the 4-H experience to district students who might not otherwise have access to livestock events, Crook County educator Sara Fleenor earned the Diversity Enhancement Recognition Award.
The livestock show, now in its second year, connects 4-H and FFA members with students enrolled in special education programs in local public schools. More than 100 students participated in the fall 2022 event at the Crook County Fairgrounds.
Thanks to Fleenor, who coordinated logistics with various schools and FFA chapters, the event was a success.
4-H and FFA participants taught students how to move safely around livestock, how to care for them and finally, how to show them. The event culminated in an animal parade through the barn.
For student mentors experienced in livestock handling, the show was an opportunity to practice leadership skills and compassionate peer coaching. For participants, the event was a fun and educational opportunity to engage with animals and supportive peers.
“I have been amazed at her [Fleenor’s] talent to include every kid in every event! She is a natural when it comes to finding every kid a place to excel,” wrote one community member.
Ranch Camp team recognized for innovative, impactful programming
The founders of Wyoming Ranch Camp—UW Extension educators Hudson Hill, Chance Marshall, Brian Sebade and Barton Stam—received the 2022 Creative Excellence Recognition award.
The five-day program, established in 2021, provides recent high school graduates and college students with a wide range of practical learning experiences on a host ranch. Educational activities are facilitated by both extension personnel and ranch managers.
Each day highlights a different aspect of ranch management, including economics, ranch diversification, animal science, and plant and soil science. Hands-on experiences like docking sheep and implanting cattle are balanced with seminar-based learning.
As part of the critical thinking component of the camp, teams of participants collaborate throughout the week to create a ranch plan for the host ranch. Plans are presented to ranch managers and extension personnel for feedback on the last day of the program.
Regardless of the experiences they brought to the program, camp participants have reported valuable learning outcomes.
“I can really use this and apply it to life—already—and that means a lot to me,” comments one participant. Despite an extensive background in cattle ranching, she came away with new ideas for how to improve operations at the family ranch.
Another participant, who entered the program with no ranching experience, says that Ranch Camp inspired her to adopt a more interdisciplinary approach to her graduate research.
“This program is getting lots of positive feedback,” notes Sebade. He looks forward to Ranch Camp 2023.