The days until the sun and moon do their dramatic dance across Wyoming are lessening but that doesn’t mean economic opportunities are dwindling for Cowboy State residents, according to the agricultural entrepreneurship specialist with University of Wyoming Extension.
“This is a rare economic opportunity even if you aren’t in the hospitality or tourism industry,” said Cole Ehmke.
The moon will pass directly in front of the sun Monday, Aug. 21, providing a two-minute blackout in a 70-mile wide beltline from Oregon to South Carolina. Ehmke said the crowds provide financial opportunities for anyone in prime viewing territories.
“If you’re in the band of totality or near a travel route, I’d sit everyone down and have a talk about what you or your business could do, then I’d get moving since there isn’t much time left to prepare,” said Ehmke.
Those opportunities could be:
*Providing places to stay prior to Aug. 21, including camper and tent spaces as well as housing.
*Providing places to watch the eclipse for those arriving Aug. 21.
*Providing services to travelers, such as bottled water and snacks.
*Selling solar eclipse souvenirs, such as t-shirts, provided they could be made in time.
*Organizing anything that could benefit from increased road traffic, including farm stands, garage sales and recreational offerings.
Ehmke said potential eclipse viewers have heard negative publicity about sold-out hotels and potential traffic jams.
A sheep specialist has joined the University of Wyoming and will provide information and programming through UW Extension.
Whit Stewart began Monday in the Department of Animal Science, said Mike Day, head of the department.
Stewart previously worked as the Montana State University Extension sheep specialist.
“We’re excited to welcome Whit to our team” said Day.
Stewart will conduct research and teach senior-level sheep production and management courses in addition to his extension responsibilities.
Stewart graduated from Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore., with a master’s degree in animal science after receiving a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho.
He then worked 2010-2011 as a UW Extension educator in Campbell County before leaving to earn his Ph.D. in a joint program with Texas A&M AgriLife Research and New Mexico State University.
Hiring a sheep specialist was important because the state’s sheep industry is among the top four in the nation in almost every category.
“We have a progressive and involved sheep industry, and the industry contributes to our overall agricultural output,” said Day to the Wyoming Livestock Roundup earlier this year. “Sheep production is key to Wyoming’s agriculture industry.”
A training program to help community organizations assist members and clients with basic money management is being offered through University of Wyoming Extension.
The Master Money Manager Coach program is Aug. 16-17 at the UW Extension office on the Laramie County Community College campus in Cheyenne.
Instructors will train participants how to work with individuals to improve their financial management skills.
The program is recommended for community organizations, nonprofits and agencies that want to help their clients better understand and manage their financial lives, said UW Extension educator Juliet Daniels, coordinator of the program.
“It’s so important to be exposed to personal finance,” she said. “I look at the communities I serve, and the reality is that a lot of people could really benefit from having a coaching relationship with a trusted adviser to get themselves on track.”
The two-day training introduces coaches to the FDIC Money Smart curriculum, teaches basic adult learning principles and provides tools to use with clients to encourage adoption of positive money management behaviors.
Heavy fuel loads and dry conditions in the Big Horn Basin have prompted two preparing for wildfire sessions for rural homeowners.
The sessions are 6 p.m. Friday, July 28, at the Ten Sleep Community Center, and 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2, at the Washakie County Fairgrounds in Worland.
University of Wyoming Extension educator Caitlin Youngquist is collaborating with Karen Fenton of the Washakie County Conservation District to help landowners develop evacuation plans for livestock and pets and provide information to create defensible space.
The recent fuels and fire behavior advisory from the Wind River Bighorn Basin District of the BLM specifically targeted areas below 5,000 feet.
“We encourage everyone to think about how and where they will move their animals should fire threaten their homes,” Youngquist said. “All of the spring moisture this year contributed to exceptional growth of annual grasses like cheatgrass. The fuel loads are very high, and we have already had four rapidly moving fires in Washakie County.”
The fires, one started by a chain dragging on a highway, burned over 3,500 acres.