Crook County 4-H educator receives UW Extension honor

Photograph of Sara Fleenor
Sara Fleenor

Increasing the depth and scope of Crook County 4-H and building the program through nontraditional ways has helped Sara Fleenor earn the University of Wyoming Extension’s Newer Employee Recognition Award.

Fleenor was recognized during the organization’s training conference Nov. 6-8 in Casper.

“Sara strives for excellence in her 4-H programming with a keen interest in developing leadership skills in youths,” said Mary Kay Wardlaw, associate director of UW Extension. “She is often behind the scenes making sure the youths are supported and successful.”

Nominators cited her work in providing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math lessons in local classrooms and in afterschool and summer recreation programs. She has also revitalized the Weston-Crook County 4-H Summer Program since joining UW Extension in 2012. The number of campers has grown from 15 to over 50 in 2017.

Fleenor is also credited for helping the success of the 307 Livestock Judging Camp in northeast Wyoming. The camp rotates between Weston and Crook counties year-to-year. The livestock judging series builds skills and increases participation in statewide contests by presenting scholarships and awards to the top 4-H members.

Colleagues also noted her fundraising efforts. She has grown the shooting sports program through grants and donations and has raised nearly $5,000 a year through community fund drives and competitive grant writing.

UW coach announces top 4-H’ers in 307 Livestock Judging Series

Group photograph
Junior All-State Team from left with Tyler Bauer, University of Wyoming intern; Emmy Hornecker, Natrona County; Riley Lake, Albany County; and Caleb Boardman, UW livestock judging teach coach. Not Pictured, Paiyzli Baker, Sublette County.

A summer series of livestock judging camps designed to boost skills among 4-H’ers – and increase opportunities for college scholarships – culminated at the state fair when the top scorers in three divisions were recognized.

University of Wyoming livestock judging team coach Caleb Boardman presented 307 Livestock Judging Series certificates to five senior, five intermediate and three junior participants.

4-H’ers could compete in twelve 307 Livestock Judging days and camps. They had to attend at least three and then compete at the Wyoming State Fair and Rodeo, noted Boardman.

“We are trying to give students interested in judging more opportunities to compete,” Boardman said. “The more experience you get, the better you will be.”

All-State Award recipients in their divisions and their counties are:

Juniors (ages 8-10) – Riley Lake, Albany; Emmy Hornecker, Natrona; Paiyzli Baker, Sublette.

Group photograph
Intermediate All-State Team from left with Tyler Bauer, University of Wyoming intern; Kymber Stinson, Albany County; Emma Gonzalez, Laramie County; McKinly Hepp, Johnson County; Garrett Burkett, Natrona County; Haidyn Hornecker receiving award for her brother, Brekken, Natrona County; and UW livestock judging coach Caleb Boardman.

Intermediate (ages 11-13) – Kymber Stinson, Albany; McKinly Hepp, Johnson; Emma Gonzalez, Laramie; Garrett Burkett, Brekken Hornecker, Natrona.

Seniors (ages 14-18) – Kemsley Gallegos, Alexis Lake, Saige Ward, Albany; Emma Mercer, Big Horn; Logan Mehling, Park.

There are sports camps in summer, why not livestock judging camps, asked Boardman, who noted the camps have aided student recruitment to UW.

“I don’t want to take anything away from sports, but the majority of students from Wyoming, if they get scholarships, will be academic or agricultural scholarships,” he said. “If you look at the ag industry, UW Extension and the college of agriculture, all of these students are working toward gaining a scholarship and being on a collegiate competition team.”

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Baby goats reign over Lander yoga classes

Kinsley McClung has a visitor pass by while she and her mother, Jennifer, participate in a goat yoga class.

Let’s get the 800-pound gorilla out of the barn first – the 25-pound-or-so baby Boer goats ruled the yoga classes.

The white-and-brown smile makers were snatched up before and after the two goat yoga classes west of Lander in April and hugged and caressed, with yoga goers closing their eyes during the snuggles and then the goats closing THEIR eyes and drifting to sleep – or at least into a pretty high level of being centered.

Goat yoga was new to Lander – maybe to most of Wyoming – with University of Wyoming Extension educator Laura Balis proposing goat yoga as a fundraiser for the Fremont County 4-H Program. The sessions raised $686 ($250 from sponsors and $436 from participants).

Baldwin Creek Boers provided its barn.

Each baby goat was hoisted over a gate from the corral into the barn area converted into the yoga site, and participants brought their own mats to lie on the large blue tarp covering the dirt floor. Yoga practitioners followed session leader Jackie Lauer as inquisitive baby goats nibbled hair (smiles), walked between limbs (smiles), nuzzled against faces (smiles), and generally made themselves available to anyone (more smiles).

Baldwin Creek Boers’ Terrill Weston said they volunteered the facilities to help 4-H’ers. “I’m a UW grad and want to help out the extension folks anyway we could,” he said.

Becca Cross of Lander had just finished the first session and like many others stood holding a pretty-relaxed-looking baby goat.

“I feel lighter and giddier,” she said. “This is the most I’ve laughed in a yoga class. This was perfect. Just really light, a good class but entertaining, too, just to watch the goats. The baby animals make you smile.”

One woman with a friend was snuggling a baby goat (the baby goat, eyes closed, absorbing the hug) prior to the start of the first class. “I want one,” she soundlessly mouthed to her friend.

Cory Daly of Riverton liked the addition of goats to yoga.

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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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Diversity efforts earn Crook, Weston County 4-H educators extension honor

Stacy Buchholz

4-H educators in Crook and Weston counties were recognized by the University of Wyoming Extension for their diversity education efforts.

Stacy Buchholz in Weston County and Sara Fleenor in Crook

Sara Fleenor

County received extension’s Diversity Enhancement Award during the organization’s training conference in December on the Laramie campus.

The two worked with teen 4-H leaders to create workshops and menu ideas that incorporated cultural diversity at the Crook-Weston County 4-H Summer Camp.

4-H’ers were able to experience different countries and learn about cultures, global challenges and participate in hands-on activities while they learned.

Buchholz joined extension in 2008 and Fleenor in 2012.