Smith earns Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station award

Travis Smith in white cowboy hat is flanked by four student workers with expansive view from top of mountain behind them
Travis Smith (center) with student employees Orrin Kinberg, Matt Dole, Connor James, and Rian James after a day’s work setting up stock fence and hauling half-yaks and cows to the top of Jelm Mountain.

A Laramie Research and Extension Center (LREC) unit manager who ensures approximately 250 beef cows are bred, fed, grazed and remain healthy, livestock research is managed with reliable experimental controls and UW classes and student employees gain real-world experience has earned the 2018 Kathleen Bertoncelj Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) Staff Award.

Travis Smith, beef unit manager of the LREC, was recognized in December in Laramie for contributions in the three areas of the University of Wyoming Land Grant mission – research, teaching, and outreach.

In research, Smith has helped coordinate experiments for faculty investigators and graduate students, including the logistics of moving animals, synchronizing breeding protocols, supervising calving, and managing animal handling and sampling.

“Travis has a strong work ethic and has always been ready and willing to assist. He routinely works long hours and finds solutions to complex animal research logistical questions,” said nominator Derek Scasta, UW Extension rangeland specialist and UW assistant professor.

For over a year Smith has managed 14 cattle-yak crosses in a program to address high-altitude pulmonary hypertension, also known as brisket disease. Smith and crew built temporary corrals in the parking lot of the Jelm Mountain Observatory last fall, and over the course of a month, he hauled about 600 gallons of water per day and delivered about 25 tons of hay to the top of the 9,656-ft. peak.

Smith often contributes to scientific papers, which in 2015 included serving as co-author on research published in the Journal of Animal Science and Rangelands.

In his teaching role, Smith has coordinated student laboratories for UW beef production classes and taught artificial insemination and breeding exercises. Smith has served as adviser and co-adviser for the UW Ranch Horse Team, helped re-establish the UW ROTC mounted color guard, and supervises student workers.

Smith has gained notoriety for managing Pistol and Pete, the pair of Haflinger draft horses that pull the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources sheep wagon and other wagons in parades and events around the state. He helps coordinate Laramie Research and Extension Center’s annual family farm day and assists with UW Extension artificial insemination (AI) workshops.

“Travis is a true asset to UW, given his humble attitude, expertise in beef cattle management, and ability to collaborate in a meaningful way,” said Scasta.

Friends and supporters made gifts to establish the Kathleen Bertoncelj AES Staff Award last year. Bartoncelj is a former senior office associate in WAES who worked at UW for 38 years, the last 16 in WAES.

As the research unit of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the WAES funds and actively promotes investigations to increase agricultural productivity, natural resource stewardship, and community well-being. The LREC is one of four research and experiment stations WAES operates around the state.

For more information, visit or contact or (307) 766-3667.

Weston County Food Safety and Nutrition Educator receives UW Extension’s highest honor  

Headshot of Vicki Hayman
Vicki Hayman

Whether handing out recipes and food samples at farmers markets, teaching menu planning and how to read a nutrition label or team teaching food safety practices with the local health inspector, Vicki Hayman, Weston County nutrition and food safety educator for the northeast area of the state, engages with people to help them improve their lives.

Hayman was awarded the Jim DeBree Excellence in Extension Award – UW Extension’s highest honor – during extension’s annual conference in Laramie in December.

As a member of extension’s Healthy Eating Focus team, Hayman teaches food preparation skills; Dining with Diabetes and other Chronic Diseases; and the Real Food program, all with hands-on learning and resources to ensure healthy changes last after the end of class.

“Vicki includes innovative approaches and multiple teaching styles to expand her audience and increase program impacts,” said nominator Denise Smith, nutrition and food safety educator in Niobrara County.

Audiences can open a newspaper, turn on the radio or catch a podcast, blog or Pinterest post for new ideas and Hayman’s take on eating for health, fitness and enjoyment.

She prepares a biweekly column for the Weston County Gazette (Upton), The Sundance Times (Sundance) and the High Plains Sentinel (Wright). She submits a monthly column for the Newsletter Journal in Newcastle and articles for the quarterly Backyards and Barnyards magazine for small-acreage landowners.

Publications and curricula co-developed or authored by Hayman include Cooking It Up! Diabetes-Healthy Recipes Everyone Will Love, Cooking It Up! Friendly One-Pot Meals from Your Pressure Cooker, the Real Food curriculum, Calcium Science Investigation (CSI) curriculum, and the Wyoming 4-H Fabric and Fashion Manual.

Hayman promotes interaction and cooperation among agencies and organizations through a variety of roles, said Smith. These include adviser, coalition member, facilitator and liaison.

The Jim DeBree Award is named in honor of the retired Wyoming extension administrator and given each year to an extension employee who demonstrates a high level of professionalism, performance and leadership within their program areas and communities.

Hayman joined UW Extension in 1997 and is based in Newcastle.

Exercise nutrition, fetal development earn Agricultural Experiment Station research awards

A University of Wyoming professor who is advancing understanding of nutrition’s role in the performance of casual exercisers to elite athletes and an assistant professor who seeks to improve meat quality by investigating prenatal influences in livestock have received research awards from the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (WAES).

“I am always impressed by the quality of nominations we receive for these awards. I also find it interesting that this year’s winners utilize livestock species to study human health, and in both cases, their research has implications for both livestock and humans,” said Bret Hess, associate dean of research in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and WAES director. He and dean Frank Galey presented the awards in December in Laramie.

Woman holds giant fake bill as award, flanked by presenters
Bret Hess, associate dean of research in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and WAES director; Enette Larson-Meyer, professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, and dean Frank Galey

Enette Larson-Meyer of the Didactic Program in Nutrition and Dietetics in the Department of Family and Consumer Science earned the Outstanding Research Award for her investigations on how diet and exercise influence skeletal muscle metabolism, energy balance and the prevention of obesity. Her research has explored how nutrition influences the health and performance of active individuals at all stages of life and levels of performance.

She has also explored the influence of vitamin D on health and human performance and increasing the nutritional value of pork and other animal foods through sun exposure.

Larson-Meyer served on the 2011 International Olympic Committee Sports Nutrition Consensus Panel and is active in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American College of Sports Medicine. She is author of the book “Vegetarian Sports Nutrition: Food Choices and Eating Plans for Fitness and Performance.” She joined the University of Wyoming in 2005.

Wei Guo in the Department of Molecular Biology received the Early Career Research Award. A major research focus of the Guo laboratory is fetal programming or how physiological characteristics of the developing fetus can be influenced by environmental events with lasting effects. Guo is studying the life course impact of fetal programming on striated (skeletal) muscle development and function.

Man holds giant fake bill as award, flanked by presenters
Frank Galey, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; Wei Guo, assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Biology, and Bret Hess, associate dean of research and Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station director.

His long-term goals are to develop therapeutic strategies for striated muscle diseases and improve meat quality and quantity in livestock. His program has attracted more than a $1 million from funding organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Heart Association. Guo joined the University of Wyoming in 2013.

For more information, contact Hess at 307-766-3667 or

Grasshopper management team earns UW Extension Creative Excellence Award

Five men with suits and smiles; two of them hold plaques
UW Extension associate director Kelly Crane, UW Extension specialist Scott Schell, professor Alexandre Latchininsky, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources dean Frank Galey and associate dean and director of UW Extension Glen Whipple

Team members who develop innovative grasshopper control methods for public use have received the University of Wyoming Extension Creative Excellence Award.

Members of the UW Extension Entomology Grasshopper Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Team, Alexandre Latchininsky, Scott Schell, John Connett, Douglas Smith, Cindy Legg and Lee Noel, have applied entomological research to forecasting and control.

UW entomologists began to explore efficient, economical and less hazardous methods for grasshopper control in the 1990s under the leadership of professor Jeff Lockwood. Now their integrated pest management methods have been adopted in 17 Western states and in countries from Mexico and Argentina to Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Russia and Australia, said UW Extension associate director Kelly Crane, who presented the award in Laramie in December.

The team issued an early warning in 2010 for a significant grasshopper outbreak in Wyoming. They established a communication strategy and delivered training and information to more than 900 landowners and various public agencies through workshops and public meetings.

State-level grasshopper response in Wyoming was the largest in the U.S., and according to USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service-Plant Protection and Quarantine program, methods developed by the team resulted in protection of nearly six million acres. Savings to the state were estimated to be $11.6 million.

In a letter of recommendation professor Furkat Gapparov of the Uzbek Institute of Plant Protection of the Republic of Uzbekistan Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources stated, “In order to protect rangeland and crops from severe losses to locusts and grasshoppers, most countries are using tons of toxic pesticides applied to millions of hectares. This is costly, often inefficient and has enormous negative impact on human health and the environment.

“For two decades, Dr. Latchininsky’s team has provided worldwide leadership developing creative, efficient, economically viable and environmentally acceptable strategies for locust and grasshopper management,” he said.

For more information, contact Latchininsky at 307-766-2298 or

Wyoming 4-H’er wins Denver stock show catch-a-calf competition

4-H'er Kyle Despain of Laramie receives the grand champion catch-a-calf flag from National Western Stock Show CEO Paul Andrews.
4-H’er Kyle Despain of Laramie receives the grand champion catch-a-calf flag from National Western Stock Show CEO Paul Andrews.

An Albany County 4-H’er won the Catch-A-Calf competition Sunday, Jan. 7, at the National Western Stock Show, Rodeo and Horse Show in Denver.

Kyle Despain of Laramie and his market steer entry competed against 34 other 4-H’ers and entries from Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming.

Despain attends Laramie High School and is the son of Becky and Johnathan Despain. He is a member of the Critter Creek 4-H Club.

“I can tell you he is one of the nicest, most humble young men,” said Mary Louise Wood, Albany County 4-H educator. “He’s always willing to help others and is a true hard worker. He is a great representative of what the Catch-A-Calf program is all about.”

The market animals are judged on rate of gain, quality of fitting and carcass quality, according to stock show information. The exhibitor is judged on showmanship, their record book and a personal interview.

Despain caught a calf during a rodeo performance at last year’s show. He brought home a Hereford steer in May and has fed and raised the animal since then. His responsibilities included writing monthly letters to his sponsors and completing a record book. He submitted the book at the stock show and competed in an interview with judges. His sponsors were Jeff Vogel of Vogel & Associates of Denver and Rawah Ranch in Colorado.

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