Publication: University of Wyoming
Lingle Mayor Pinky Walter may have been attending a dedication ceremony of the University of Wyoming’s Sustainable Agriculture and Research Center (SAREC) near Lingle Sept. 7, but he was also visiting his father’s birthplace.
About 200 feet northwest of the existing TH Ranch barn, his father, Adam, was born with the assistance of a minister’s wife in a house that no longer stands. The ranch was part of the Swan Land and Cattle Company. Walter noted his grandmother, Elizabeth, cooked for 23 hired men at the ranch.
“I attended for a couple reasons,” said Walter. “I grew up on the land right across from the center. I’ve known that place (TH Ranch) all my life, and I’m here as the mayor of Lingle. I think it’s necessary in this day and age to do research and get the various results back to producers so they can make decisions.”
That belief was echoed several times during the ceremony attended by about 150 people, including UW Trustees Warren Lauer of Laramie, Chuck Brown of Wheatland, and Taylor Haynes of Cheyenne, UW President Tom Buchanan, College of Agriculture Dean Frank Galey, Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station Director Steve Miller, and many others, including producers.
“This state is built on farming and ranching, and UW recognizes the large number of people and businesses that rely on a strong and vibrant agriculture economy,” said Buchanan, who also mentioned UW’s other research and extension centers (R&E) in Powell and Sheridan. “As a land-grant university, the mission of UW is tied directly to agriculture. SAREC is one more commitment UW has to the fundamental Wyoming industry.”
He also paid homage to the late Jim Hageman of Fort Laramie, who died Aug. 23. Hageman was a rancher and state representative.
“Jim Hageman was a true son of Wyoming,” Buchanan said. “He was dedicated to the state’s tradition of agriculture, education and service. He was devoted to sustainability in higher education and also devoted to the sustainability of the land. He was a lifelong rancher, vitally involved in the UW College of Agriculture and the UW School of Environmental and Natural Resources. His voice was prominent in legislation supporting SAREC. Jim was a true friend of UW and he will be missed.”
The process to create SAREC started in 1999. A year later, a review committee of farmers, ranchers, agribusiness representatives, political leaders and UW faculty members recommended the university build the SAREC facility to replace the existing Archer and Torrington R&E centers and to complement R&E centers in Powell and Sheridan.
Proceeds from the sale of the Archer and Torrington R&E centers and property in Afton were used to purchase the property for SAREC.
SAREC comprises 1,522 acres of dry land cropland, 349 acres of irrigated cropland, 1,880 acres of rangeland, 19 acres of irrigated organic cropland, 40 acres of dry land organic cropland, a feedlot and a livestock research laboratory. A dormitory for researchers and a wet lab are planned additions.
The dry land, irrigated land and livestock systems in one location will allow insights into how best to use resources, said Haynes.
“SAREC is a necessity not a luxury,” he said. “This is the most important thing we can do for the ag industry, academics for their careers, and for the fund of scientific knowledge in general. I’m very excited about this.”
Miller, whose office oversees the R&E centers, recognized the review committee’s work. “This dedication has been a long time coming,” said Miller. “It’s really here. This dedication ceremony should serve as a reminder of their hard work and dedicated efforts.”
He recognized Larry Cundall, a Glendo rancher who was chairman of the review committee, and who helped cut the ribbon.
Cundall said SAREC will be successful only if research results get back to producers.
“We didn’t see the old stations providing the integrated research we thought was needed,” said Cundall. “There was a lot of good research going on, but the researchers weren’t always getting that information out. And producers need to give input into what research is being done.”
If research at SAREC is done the way the review committee envisions, SAREC can have a great impact, he said.
“The proof will be if we follow through with the research and get the information out in a way producers can use it, the researchers can gain recognition for their work, and those companies that provide money for research get back results, too,” he said. “I’m an optimist. But I’m a rancher. I have to be optimistic.”