Producers attending annual Wyoming conference tout organic benefits

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Nate Powell-Palm, who serves on the governing council of the Organic Farmers Association, was a guest speaker at the organic growers organic growers conference. He has served as vice president and president of the Montana Organic Growers Producers Co-op. He raises organic cattle and grain near Bozeman.

There was no guarantee in 1980 that farmer-by-day and songwriter-when-time-allowed Mark Jones wouldn’t be singing the bankrupt blues in just a few years.

He had taken over the family’s four properties in Nebraska when his father died. They were swirling in debt.

Jones, who was attending his sixth organic growers conference in Cheyenne last month, said he clamped down on every expense in an attempt to stay afloat.

He said switching to organic agriculture 35 years ago saved his farms.

“My wife, Marcy, is the one who got us lined up and enthusiastic about being organic. We could not have done it with Marcy,” he said.

Jones, who farms near Oshkosh, Nebr.,  is an enthusiastic organic production supporter and said he attends such conferences to lend support for others.

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EPA requires certified training for paraquat applicators

            Producers or commercial applicators using paraquat are now required to complete a certified applicator training module for the herbicide, according to the EPA.

The required online training module link is at Only certified applicators can use the herbicide.

Paraquat dichloride is one of the most widely used herbicides in the U.S. for weed control in many agricultural and non-agricultural settings and is sold under a variety of brand names.

An example of use in Wyoming is Big Horn Basin alfalfa seed producers or commercial applicators using the restricted-use contact herbicide to desiccate alfalfa prior to seed harvest, said Jeremiah Vardiman, a University of Wyoming Extension educator based in Park County.

Seventeen deaths have been attributed to paraquat misuse since 2000 and many other severe injuries have been caused by the pesticide getting on skin or in the eyes. Many of the deaths have been caused by illegally transferring the pesticide to beverage containers and being mistaken for a drink, said the USDA. A single sip can cause death.

“The risk is with the applicators and not the food supply,” said Vardiman.

Professional range organization recognizes UW Extension specialist

Man in hat kneeling in a pasture with cows
Derek Scasta (Photo Robert Waggener)

The University of Wyoming Extension range management specialist received an Outstanding Young Professional Award at the annual Society for Range Management (SRM) conference in Minneapolis, Minn., in February.

The award recognizes Derek Scasta for displaying superior performance and leadership in range-related areas, according to the SRM.

“I have many mentors involved in SRM who are working for universities, agencies and ranches across the U.S., and so I am greatly humbled by this recognition,” said Scasta, an assistant professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

While working at UW, Scasta developed two new courses – applied fire ecology and nutritional ecology and management of rangeland ungulates. He is adviser for the UW Range Club and coaches the Undergraduate Range Management Exam team, in addition to extending research from the University of Wyoming to the people across the state. The UW Range Club won the top award competing against 26 other universities in competition at the SRM meeting.

Scasta said SRM has long been his professional home and it has endeavored to improve rangelands and the people relying on rangelands – efforts he supports and pursues personally.

Scasta has contributed to SRM and has demonstrated his commitment to developing future SRM members, according to the SRM.

He dedicated the award to his three daughters, his wife, Angie, who has always supported his work on rangelands, and to his parents and grandparents, who encouraged his interests in agriculture while growing up.

Horticulture educator joins Campbell County extension office

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Meredith Hoggatt

A new horticulture program educator has joined the Campbell County University of Wyoming Extension office.

Meredith Hoggatt served from 2015 to 2018 as the greenhouse coordinator for the University of Wyoming Williams Conservatory, which combined her passion for plants, insects and outreach.

Hoggatt was responsible for over 500 plant species, educational tours and community outreach.

She said the work she did for Williams Conservatory encouraged her to pursue a position in extension to continue her outreach efforts and increase community involvement.

“I am excited to be given the opportunity to deepen my involvement within the Campbell County community while using my passion for plants and insects to educate and assist its citizens,” Hoggatt said.

Originally from southwest Virginia, Hoggatt obtained her bachelor’s degree in zoology at UW in 2012 with a concentration in ecology and a minor in entomology.

She worked in Virginia as the integrated pest management (IPM) and compliance coordinator for an international commercial vegetable company. Hoggatt was responsible for creating and implementing the IPM strategy for the 18 acres of tomatoes under glass, 12 acres grown hydroponically and 6 acres grown as organic certified.

UW Extension hosts beef AI school in Laramie

The University of Wyoming Extension is hosting a beef artificial insemination (AI) school Tuesday-Thursday, April 2-4, at the Laramie Research and Extension Center near Laramie.

The class is limited to 15 participants. Cost is $100 and must be paid prior to attending.

“AI can potentially be a beneficial practice for large- and small-scale operations,” said Brian Sebade, University of Wyoming Extension educator.

Topics include:

  • AI process and palpation,
  • Heifer development and nutrition,
  • Equipment and semen handling,
  • Sync protocols, and
  • Reproduction anatomy.

Participants gain skills by working with live cattle every day at the class, said Sebade.

Sessions are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. each day. Lunch is provided the final day.

To reserve a spot, contact Sebade at or 307-721-2571.