CWC debuts new ag complex

By Marit Gookin

Staff Writer

Central Wyoming College (CWC) is well-known for its experiential education opportunities, ranging from internationally-recognized environmental research to its nursing program to building bike trails around the Lander area. Its research and programs are often deeply embedded in the local history, culture and economies of Fremont County – perhaps none more so than its agricultural and equine-related majors.

Photo courtesy of CWC

“This building is much more than an academic facility … Fremont County is number three in [the] state in terms of our cattle industry and number one in horses,” pointed out CWC President Dr. Brad Tyndall, who holds a Ph.D. in economics. “From the $81 million in agricultural supplies that we import each year into Fremont County, we can work to produce much of that ourselves.”

CWC’s new Rustler Ag and Equine Complex, which will host its grand opening this coming Saturday, will not only offer students an exciting expansion of the college’s existing agricultural facilities; it also, Tyndall explained, can offer the Riverton area economic development opportunities. “In a nutshell, we are working to support farmers and ranchers to process and sell more food locally to reap much more of the value chain,” he remarked.

Photo courtesy of CWC

The college has been talking about a building like this since at least 2000, noted Dr. Kathy Wells, CWC vice president of academic affairs. “The benefits the building will give us for our agricultural students and equine majors are just incredible,” she explained. “This does provide space” for equine students and students involved in rodeo to both be able to board their horses, which the smaller size of the college’s previous facility didn’t allow for, “and brings a facility for our agricultural students to have a lab.” 

The $18-million building, which took approximately 18 months to complete once construction began, was partially paid for by the state legislature. Senator Eli Bebout in particular was a vocal advocate for the state helping to support the construction of the facility, Wells said. “He was instrumental in moving this project forward; we would not have it without him.” In recognition of his key role in making the facility possible, Bebout has been invited to speak at its grand opening.

Other speakers at the grand opening will include Dr. Tyndall as well as Kall Mayfield, an agricultural major and captain of the CWC men’s rodeo team, and Jadyn Buckley, an equine major. Mayfield and Buckley are both second-year students, and will be able to speak to the contrast between the new facility and the old one and the benefits the new building will bring students.

Photo courtesy of CWC

The grand opening isn’t all speeches, though; it is also slated to include demonstrations of the facility in use, with students and faculty on hand to speak with the public about its various elements and students practicing their rodeo and equestrian skills. CWC has also invited the public to bring in brands of their own – current or historical – to contribute to a community-sourced art installation. During the grand opening, the ferrier science lab will be set up so people can imprint their own brands on a piece of barn wood provided by the college. Once all of the brands have been added, the wood will be put on display in the facility to showcase the brands of Fremont County.

“The community is truly going to be a part of this building,” Wells commented. In the future, CWC hopes to continue inviting the public into the building with an array of events.

The grand opening has also been combined with the fourth annual Rendezvous City Beef Roundup, which showcases exceptional beef production throughout the region and is quickly becoming one of the area’s premiere beef events. The roundup will kick off at noon, which Wells pointed out means that people can attend the Ag and Equine Complex’s opening ceremonies and then transition straight to the festivities of the roundup. 

“This is a huge building, and people have been watching this building go up, and now they get to see what it looks like,” Wells said. “We’re just excited for the public to come see it.” 

The Rustler Ag and Equine Complex’s grand opening will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and the facility will be open for tours by the public until noon – at which point the Rendezvous City Beef Roundup will start up, putting the facility to use for its first non-college event just a short time after cutting the ribbon.