Last week, Central Wyoming College’s Instructor of Agriculture and Meat Science Amanda Winchester welcomed several vehicles and refrigerated storage trailers to the CWC campus newly branded with “Grow Your Own: Food, Jobs, Communities.” The meat science workforce training equipment, supported in part by the Rocky Mountain Power Foundation, will be utilized to support education and training programs in local meat processing and distribution.
Agriculture is Wyoming’s third-largest economic sector. CWC graduates not only need ag skills for their livelihood, they also desire employment and business opportunities. Specifically, there are opportunities to process locally-grown meat into value-added food products.
“It’s a shame, but Wyoming loses over $1 billion in value-added revenues by exporting live cattle for finishing and processing elsewhere,” Tyndall said.
The importance of agriculture aligns with the State of Wyoming’s 20-year strategic initiative, ENDOW (Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming): ag economic growth is critical but is challenged by the lack of a skilled workforce and value-added ag businesses.
“We will provide the workforce needed for the State’s big visions for Wyoming Beef, not only locally, but regionally and statewide with our community college partners, Eastern Wyoming College and Sheridan College.” Instructor Winchester said. “We’re very excited.”
Tyndall explained that CWC’s ag and equine programs are unique in that they emphasize hands-on and entrepreneurial skills. The college is focusing on diversified agribusiness, heritage ag and food, ranch horsemanship and rodeo, and craft meats. Ranch horsemanship focuses on versatility training with Certified Horsemanship Association certification. The program also includes farrier science.
“The new kids on the block are craft meats and heritage ag and food,” Tyndall, who holds a Masters in Agricultural Economics and Ph.D. in economic development, explained. “We are trying to get 20% or more locally grown and processed foods into our stores. This would not only eliminate food deserts but provide jobs and support local businesses too, as I like to say, ‘beef up main street.’ Not only will we attract more tourists with fun local food in restaurants and shops, but we’ll also help stem the flow of some 60 percent of our youth who leave the state in search of employment.”
The CWC Foundation has worked with Rocky Mountain Power Foundation on several projects that have had a great impact on CWC and the community.
“We are so thankful to Rocky Mountain Power Foundation for being a part of this amazing project. Their support will help spur economic growth across our region,” Beth Monteiro, Executive Director of the CWC Foundation said.