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King Ranch’s Eisele ‘proud and lucky’ to be involved in calving season

in Agriculture/News
1188

By Becky Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Mark Eisele smiled as he watched the calves gather close to their mothers.

Although the newborns in the open pen were just one or two days old, they already had formed a bond with their mothers and their mothers with them.  Some contented calves nursed, others napped and a few explored the pen on wobbly, unsteady legs. Their mothers kept their eyes on them, nudged them lovingly or licked their offspring’s shiny coats.

“They recognize their babies by sound and smell,” he said. “They can pick them out of a herd with a cry.”

It’s calving season at King Ranch, Eisele’s family-owned cattle operation five miles west of Cheyenne. The annual season of birth that unfolds here is happening or soon will occur at ranches across Wyoming. 

“I’m proud and lucky I get to do this,” Eisele, 62, said of his lifelong career.

He helped out at his first calving when he was 14 and has been integrally involved for more than 40 years. And yet, he never tires of it. 

“The miracle of life and how that has developed through nature is a spectacle that people should witness and appreciate,” he said. “The frailty of life is so in your face. It is very powerful. When that calf shakes his head and looks up at you and he’s breathing, it’s a wonderful feeling. Every one of them is special to me.”

Eisele and his family own the historic ranch, which was started in 1904 as a sheep operation and became a cattle ranch in 1968. Eisele’s immediate family includes his wife Trudy, daughters Kendall Roberts (who basically is second in command) and Kaycee Eisele; son, Colton Eisele; Kendall’s husband James and Colton’s wife Miranda. All help out with the calving duties.

The calving season at King Ranch starts around Feb. 20 and lasts for 75 days. It is the most intense time for ranchers who must keep in close and constant watch on their cows and calves. There are many sleepless nights for ranchers with 2 a.m. checks and around-the-clock monitoring.

“I literally live at the barn for two months,” he said, adding the barn is about 400 yards from the main house. “I have a trailer down there and eat and sleep down there. You get tired; you get a little worn out. But when you have a calf hit the ground and he’s alive and you saved him, you get the support to hit the ground running and go save another one.” 

When calving season rolls around, everything else in a rancher’s life – from birthday parties to family commitments – are put on hold. 

“The calves come first. And everybody understands that,” he said.

Eisele and his immediate family raise about 400 black Angus and red Angus cows on the main ranch and another 600 to 800 yearlings and pasture cattle at the west ranch. His parents raise 150 cows on their ranch nearby.

So far, about 350 calves have been born this season at the ranch with about 50 cows still to give birth.

“Things are winding down,” Eisele said.

Across Wyoming, up to 900,000 calves will be born during the calving season at the state’s 2,500 to 3,000 commercial cow operations, according to Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.

At King Ranch, most calves are born in the barn where they are tagged and numbered and get a shot to protect them. They spend at least 12 hours bonding with their mothers in the pen. Cow and calf then move to an open pen, which has a wood side for protection from the elements, fresh hay and an automatic heated water supply.  After a few days, they move to the main pasture.  The calves in the pasture are full of energy and jump across the land. Eisele keeps a small notebook in his shirt pocket that contains hand-written records of all the calves. 

“As the calves are born, we write down the cow’s number, the calf’s number, the date, the sex, the weight, how easy the birth was and if they nursed,” he said.

They then transfer the information to their cell phones and create electronic records.

A circle drawn beside the number of a calf in the book means the calf died. Typically, calves are born without problems, but about 2 percent to 3 percent die despite the best efforts of Eisele and his family.

“We will struggle to keep everything alive,” he said, adding that “it’s heartbreaking for me” when a calf dies.

Some calves die after being accidentally stepped on by other cows. The animals also can contract pneumonia. 

“Cattle are really an interesting critter. They are tougher than all get out,” Eisele said. “They can survive so many things. But a simple thing like the change between day and night and the temperature swings will trigger pneumonia – respiratory distress – and it will kill them.”

Cows also are quite social. For example, they frequently take turns babysitting several calves so their mothers can graze, he said.

Ranchers wear many hats and the job of calving means they need to wear almost every one at the same time. They need to be medics, business men, weather men, and bit of a psychologist to better read and understand the cows, he said.

Eisele and his family help in the birthing process, including pulling a calf’s legs to get it through the birth canal. He tries to be at every birth he can, but can’t make all of them. 

“I need to see if the cow had problems or if the calf was sluggish,” he said.

He said he also needs to know if the cow can give birth or if the calf is so large that a veterinarian is needed to perform a Caesarean section.

“There is a lot of animal husbandry that goes on. We use stethoscopes, thermometers and we do a lot of stuff to analyze these calves,” he said.

The knowledge doesn’t happen overnight. 

“It’s an acquired education,” he said, one where he said he is still learning every day.

Eisele is at ease with his herd and loves to watch the cows go after the cow cakes made from grains that he dumps from back of his truck.

He recognizes cows in the pasture and pets many as he chats with them. He too, has formed a bond.

“One of the saddest things I have to do is put calves on a truck and ship them away to the feeders knowing that is the last I’ll see of them. That is hard to do. I understand that is the way things work, but I revel in the births,” he said.

Mixed Martial Arts finds home, big-name sponsorship in Wyoming

in Community/Recreation
1185

By Ike Fredregill, Cowboy State Daily

Pain shot across Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor Devin Henry’s face as he disengaged a grapple Monday with one of Cheyenne Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s students. 

“Hang on a sec,” Henry calmly told the student. “I think I broke my finger.” 

The 42-year-old’s purple belt cut a sharp contrast against his black gi, a lightweight, two-piece garment worn by several martial arts participants, as he cradled the injury and paced the training mats.

Within minutes, he returned to his student, and the duo continued to drill a series of subdual techniques.

“It doesn’t hurt now,” Henry said. “But I’m going to be in pain tomorrow, for sure.”

The Jiu Jitsu academy’s primary coach and owner Matt Cano nodded, acknowledging his junior instructor’s tenacity.

“It’s a rough sport, and you do get hurt from time to time,” Cano said. “But we bounce right back and keep at it.”

About 30 students and instructors sparred in pairs during the night’s training session, guided by Cano’s quiet directions.

Most of the time, he was on the ground with them, explaining and demonstrating Jiu Jitsu techniques simultaneously. But occasionally, he walked among the combatants, offering praise and critiquing the students’ moves.

“Jiu Jitsu is about human intelligence over brute strength,” Cano explained. “It’s human chess. It’s all about strategy.”

Japan to Brazil to America

After learning the Japanese martial art of Jiu-Jitsu from traveling instructor Mitsuyo Maeda, Carlos Gracie started a legacy by opening his family’s first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1925, according to the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu association Gracie Barra.

In the decades to follow, the Gracie family refined and adapted the fighting style until 1993, when Rorion Gracie put together the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) as a way to test his family’s techniques against other popular martial arts like Karate, Judo and Tai Kwan Do.

The sport exploded across the globe, and by 2006, even the U.S. Army used moves inspired by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in its Modern Army Combatives, hand-to-hand combat training.

Although backyard wrestling and bareknuckle boxing enjoyed a modicum of popularity among young fighters in Wyoming around the turn of the millennium, combat-centric training centers remained sparse around the state, Cano said.

“Growing up, I was really into watching the UFC and all that,” he recalled. “But, there weren’t any real high-quality trainers for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. You got some good wrestlers around here and good boxers, but for the longest time, we didn’t have high quality trainers that strictly focused on (mixed martial arts).”

‘Homeless’

After a stint in the U.S. Army, Cano trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu throughout the Rocky Mountain region, fought in both amateur and professional MMA bouts, then decided to focus on bringing Wyoming to the forefront of the growing global martial arts trend.

“It was around 2015, and I had one more pro fight, but I always had one foot in, one foot out with teaching,” Cano said. “I wanted to spread my love for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and it did — it spread like wildfire.”

Cano’s academy began with three buddies in a two-car garage. He quit his full-time job as a diesel mechanic and dedicated himself solely to the art.

“I had no income the first couple of years,” Cano explained. “I was homeless — just living in the academy.”

Nowadays, Cano’s academy is located in downtown Cheyenne with nearly 5,000 square feet of training space.

“We’ve got about 135 students here at the academy now,” he said. “That’s between our kids’ classes, advanced Jiu-Jitsu, beginning Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing classes.”

Name recognition

The academy owes its success to several factors, including the nearby U.S. Air Force base, the instructors’ determination and Cano’s passion for teaching.

But the 32-year-old coach said one of the tipping points for Cheyenne Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was an off-the-cuff friendship with Kurt Osiender.

“We’re the first major academy in Wyoming to be sponsored by a big name,” he explained.

Osiender is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who trained under Ralph Gracie before starting his own academy in California. Referred to as a professor in the sport, Osiender met Cano during a series of seminars. 

“I kept asking him questions about different techniques, and after awhile, we just hit it off,” Cano said. “He comes and puts on seminars here at the academy throughout the year. He loves Wyoming. He loves guns and whiskey and Frontier Days. He says it’s his kind of state.”

In a sport where training lineage can hold as much weight as the color of a combatant’s belt, having a Gracie-trained instructor sponsor your gym is a huge honor, Cano said.

“Kurt certified my brown belt in 2016,” he remembered reverently. “That was a really big deal for me. Some people use stripes on the belt to indicate degrees, but Kurt’s old school and doesn’t do stripes.”

As much the student as the teacher, Cano said despite the growth of his own academy, he’s got a long way to go.

“I’m in no hurry to get my black belt,” he said. “Kurt will give it to me when he feels I’m ready. As long as I learn something every day, that’s all that matters.”

As the academy grows, Cano said he hopes to see Wyoming earn a place on the MMA map, but until then, he plans to keep rolling with his students and sharing his love for the sport.

“Spiritually and mentally, you’re in the zone with that training partner,” Cano said. “We share blood, sweat and tears on these mats. We’re all brothers and sisters here.”

To learn more about Cheyenne Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, visit https://CheyenneBJJ.wixsite.com/cbjj

State checkbook reveals $1.2 billion in out-of-state expenditures

in Government spending/News/Transparency
State checkbook reveals $1.2 billion in out-of-state expenditures
1183

By Ike Fredregill, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming state government spends millions of dollars in other other states and Connecticut companies get more money than any other state, according to data released by the Wyoming State Auditor’s Office.

In calendar year 2018, Wyoming spent at least $1.2 billion out-of-state, nearly $247 million of which was spent in Connecticut on health care, alcohol and data for grant proposals.

The information is contained in what has been dubbed “Wyoming’s checkbook,” a list of 4.9 million state expenditures made over the last six years.

The data was released in January by state Auditor Kristi Racines, ending a years-long battle between the state auditor’s office, American Transparency, which operates “openthebooks.com,” and the Equality State Taxpayers Association.

“It’s critical this information is available to the public,” Racines said.

The list does not contain every tax dollar spent, Racines said, because some expenditures are confidential. 

“There are a lot of dollars that are confidential such as benefit payments to direct recipients,” she said. “Those are all confidential, and we’re talking big dollars.”

The information released shows about 21 percent of total state spending occurred outside of Wyoming.

“When you look at the expenditures as a whole,” Racines explained, “that 21 percent comes down.”

Without all of the data — confidential and otherwise — on hand, she said it was impossible to compare Wyoming’s out-of-state spending to other states.

Health Care

Health care for state employees was Wyoming’s largest out-of-state expenditure — $229.8 million — in calendar year 2018.While the State Employees Health Insurance Group is based in Wyoming, Ralph Hayes, the insurance group director, said a large portion of the healthcare checks are funneled through CIGNA, a global health service company with offices in Connecticut.

“A lot of the reason we need CIGNA is expertise,” Hayes explained. “We run this system with nine people. We’re providing health insurance for 37,000 members. We do not have the staffing, systems or expertise to review the medical claims, make sure they are appropriate them, adjudicate them and make payments to the providers.” 

The insurance group is self-funded, but CIGNA writes checks on its behalf, he said. The state then covers those checks by writing its own to CIGNA, Hayes added.

“Most of those are being sent to the medical providers back here in Wyoming,” he explained. 

Health care costs have inflated exponentially in the last two decades, and Hayes said the trend will likely continue.

In 1999, the state spent about $37.7 million on health care for state employees. By 2018, the state’s employee health care costs were approximately $284.4 million, Hayes said.The state’s sparse population spread thinly across a large geographical area also plays a role in increased medical bills.

“We don’t have multiple hospitals in any given area to compete against each other,” Hayes said. “Basically, we’re seeing cost increases from our medical providers. You can charge what the market will bear.”

Despite its name, he said the insurance group also provides insurance to University of Wyoming employees, community college employees and Natrona County School District employees, which inflates the number of checks being written to CIGNA.

Booze

After healthcare, alcohol is Wyoming’s second largest expenditure in Connecticut.

When the U.S. ended the prohibition in 1935, the federal government put the responsibility of regulating alcohol purchases in the states’ hands, Wyoming Department of Revenue Director Dan Noble said.

“Wyoming is a control state, which means we control the sale of alcohol in Wyoming,” Noble said. “(The Department of Revenue’s) Liquor Division is the sole wholesaler of alcoholic spirits and wine in the state of Wyoming.”

The state sent about $15 million to two companies — Diageo North America and Diageo Americas — in Connecticut for spirits in 2018.

“They are the largest supplier of alcohol in the world,” Noble said. “Diageo sells things like Crown Royal, Johnny Walker, Captain Morgan and just about any other major alcohol brand.”

The global corporation might be one of the state’s biggest suppliers of alcohol, but they are far from the only one.

“We will special order from virtually anybody that sells a product that can be brought into the country legally,” Noble said. “We buy product from within our state as well, like Wyoming Whiskey and Backwards Vodka.”

Once the state purchases the alcohol, he said the liquor division then sells it to about 1,200 licensed distributors throughout Wyoming at a markup of 17.6 percent.“

That money goes covering our costs and the state also utilizes that for general fund money as well,” Noble explained.

What’s left?

Once alcohol and health care are subtracted from the checks Wyoming sent to Connecticut in 2018, the remaining expenditures are scattered all over the board: The Wyoming Department of Transportation spent about $25,000 with Whelen Engineering Co., a manufacturer of audio and visual warning equipment for automotive, aviation, and mass notification industries; the Wyoming Department of Corrections spent about $2,700 with Al Hannah Clothing, an Islamic clothing supplier, and The Wyoming Department of Health spent about $44,000 with On Target Health Data LLC, a company whose website lists a single employee and conducts survey research, behavioral risk factor surveillance system research, program evaluation and health risk appraisal.

Based on the data provided in the checkbook, Wyoming spent the second largest portion — $121 million — of its 2018 out-of-state expenditures in Missouri. Alaska received the least amount of Wyoming’s money in 2018 — a total of about $5,000 for companies in The Last Frontier state.

The checkbook is dense, but Racines said she is working on a website to help Wyoming citizens understand how the state spends their tax dollars.

“We want this data out there in some kind of a digestable format,” she said. “What we envision for the website is any citizen can go on there and see what agency is spending what and where.”

The auditor she said she hopes to have the website up and running before the end of the year.

“We’re spending public funds,” Racines said. “We are stewards of the taxpayer dollar — all of them — and it’s important to understand where that goes.”

Research assistance for this story was provided by Kevin Lewis of the Equality State Taxpayers Association.

Proposal to set toll for I-80 revived

in News/Transportation
Wyoming State Senator proposes toll on 1-80
1177

hBy Cowboy State Daily

A state legislator is proposing another attempt to set a toll for travel on Interstate 80 as a way to pay for improvements to Wyoming’s busiest interstate highway.

Sen. Michael Von Flatern, R-Gillette, is proposing the toll as a way to widen I-80 and add a third lane in each direction that could be used by cars and other passengers vehicles.

Money raised by the toll would be dedicated to improvement and maintenance of the highway. 

Under Von Flatern’s plan, tolls would be collected for all vehicles traveling the highway, but the toll of Wyoming residents would be paid from federal mineral royalties that go the Wyoming Department of Transportation. Such a plan would avoid charges of discrimination against out-of-state drivers

“If you want to toll somebody that lives in Nebraska, you have to toll somebody who lives in Wyoming,” he said. “But in this case, they will just take it out of the federal mineral royalties.”

The cost to the state in mineral royalties would not exceed the revenue collected through tolls, he added.

“Eighty percent of the traffic on I-80 does not start or stop in the state of Wyoming, other than maybe to get fuel,” he said.

Von Flatern noted that this past winter, every day saw some segment of the interstate closed because of bad weather.

But Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, said an extra lane would not solve problems caused by the weather.

“Having an extra lane doesn’t correct Mother Nature,” he said.

Bouchard said he is worried the toll could eventually be paid by Wyoming residents.

“Everything that I see, when it talks about a tax or a fee or in this case a toll, it’s framework legislation,” he said. “Meaning that once they get it in, sooner or later we’re all going to pay this toll.”

A toll would have to be approved by the Federal Highway Administration before it could be considered by the Legislature.

Pine Bluffs distillery a destination for adventurous whiskey fans

in Agriculture/Community/Tourism/Travel
Pine Bluffs Distilling local community gathering place
1171

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Out on the high plains near Pine Bluffs, one can spot what looks like a barn off in the distance north of the Union Pacific rail line.

But instead of livestock and equipment, if you step inside this barn, you’ll find whiskey, vodka and a building full of people who love to experiment with spirits.

“Why not (experiment)?” asked Pine Bluffs Distilling co-owner Chad Brown. “We’ve got all these different barrels. Why can’t we release 10 products a year?”

Brown and his co-owners in the distillery, aunt Kathy Brown and cousin Gene Purdy, launched Pine Bluffs Distilling in 2017 with the idea of using different corn and grains from around the area to produce different spirits.

“We can grow any small cereal seed,” Brown said. “The traditional distilleries, they make one product. Why can’t we do what breweries do and make 20 different whiskeys?”

Welcome to Pine Bluffs Distilling in Pine Bluffs Wyoming
(Photo credit: Mary Angell)

Brown is a California native who lived in Nevada before his cousin Gene, a grain farmer near Pine Bluffs, convinced him to move to Wyoming in 2014. Brown, an avid home beer brewer, and his cousin shared an interest in how to add value to locally raised grains and how using those grains differently might result in different flavored spirits.

While Brown worked with Purdy on his farm, the family drew up plans for two businesses, Wyoming Malting and Pine Bluffs Distilling.

“We kind of came up with the plan for Wyoming Malting Co. and after doing some number crunching … we needed more revenue,” Brown said. “We were either going to go brewery or distillery. There’s a lot of breweries in the country. In 2014, there weren’t nearly as many distilleries.”

Wyoming Malting creates the malt from grains used in the brewing of beer and in distilling spirits. The malting operation, headed up by Mike Davidson and Glenn Sisson, processes about 660,000 pounds of barley, rye, oats and other grain every year.

Much of the malt is sent to area breweries, such as the Open Barrel Brewing Co. in Torrington, the Accomplice Beer Co. in Cheyenne and Square State Brewing in Rock Springs.

About 220,000 pounds of grain and corn is used by Pine Bluffs Distilling, where distillers Jon Unruh and Aaron Mayer create the company’s best-known spirits, Rock Ranch Vodka, Lodgepole Creek Bourbon and Muddy Creek Bourbon, a blend of bourbon and rye.

Lodgepole Creek and Muddy Creek both recently won bronze medals in a competition by the American Distilling Institute. Earlier this year, Rock Ranch Vodka received a bronze medal from the American Craft Spirits Association. 

But the distillers aren’t stopping with these spirits. They’ve already created a white whiskey, a corn whiskey and a limited release rye, just to name a few.

Still more spirits are in barrels aging, including an oat whiskey and several single malt whiskeys. In addition, the distillers are preparing seasonal spirits such as a peppermint whiskey for winter and a hibiscus-honey whiskey for spring.

“We’re going to show the same grain malted or treated differently, how different the final product can be,” Brown said. “And then our distillers, once again to change things up, they came and said ‘Hey, we’d like to do seasonal whiskeys.’”

The distillery itself and attached tasting room opened in November of 2017. Since then, more than 500 gallons of Pine Bluffs Distilling’s spirits has been released, but thousands more gallons are in barrels to be aged for a few years.

In the meantime, the tasting room has become a community gathering spot of sorts for the people of Pine Bluffs. The distillery regularly hosts events such as painting parties, board game nights and yoga.

The concept is similar to what is seen in breweries, Brown said.

“They hang out,” he said. “It’s a community gathering.”

And through it all, Pine Bluffs Distilling remains committed to its local grain producers.

“If we can lift up everybody at the same time, it just benefits the whole town,” Brown said.

The distillery and tasting room are open from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays.

Visitors can sample the distillery’s various spirits, take part in special events or even tour the distilling operation itself.

Pine Bluffs Distilling is on 322 N. Beech St. in Pine Bluffs, just north of the Frenchman Valley Coop.

For more information, visit the distillery’s website at PineBluffsDistilling.com.

First Lady launches support for food security at Friday Food Bags

in Community/News
1168

Both Jennie Gordon, First Lady of Wyoming and Governor Mark Gordon worked alongside Cheyenne volunteers Monday evening to fill 925 food bags for area children who may not have access to nutritious meals when school is out for spring break.

Wyoming’s First Lady decided to spotlight food security after a visit with a friend in Sheridan opened her eyes to the number of children in Wyoming communities who go hungry or don’t know when their next meal will come.

“…if you have food in your stomach, you can learn, you can do better in school. Just a lot of things in your life improve,” said Gordon.

Gordon added growing up in a big family, with lots of mouths to feed, made clear how a good meal is foundational for kids.

The event was put on by Element ChurchOneReach, and Friday Food Bag Foundation.

Element Church Associate Pastor Steve Doolin said the church partnered with area non-profits to tackle the issue head on.

“Well, I believe it’s an epidemic,” said Doolin. “It’s not just in Cheyenne, it’s all over the country but lack of food is very prevalent in Cheyenne, Wyoming and Friday Food Bag, One Reach, Element Church are making a huge difference in trying to combat that.”

Wyoming congressional delegation welcomes end of Mueller probe

in News
1167

By Cowboy State Daily

The end of the special investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign by Special Counsel Robert Mueller should free members of Congress to focus on important issues, according to members of Wyoming’s congressional delegation.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso and Rep. Liz Cheney both said that in the wake of the finding that the president did not work with Russians to sway the outcome of the 2016 election, it is time to move past the issue.

“Now, it’s time to move on,” Barrasso said in a prepared statement. “My focus will continue to be on growing the economy, expanding opportunities and improving the lives of people in Wyoming.”

Cheney singled out members of the Democratic Party for raising the allegations that were ultimately dismissed by Mueller’s investigation.

“They have peddled falsehoods about the president, making one scurrilous claim after another,” she said. “As we go forward, it’s time for Democrats to put aside their partisan agenda of attacking this president and instead focus on addressing the real issues facing the American people.”

U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi joined Cheney and Barrasso in welcoming the outcome of the investigation, but he pointed out that the report did conclude that Russia did attempt to interfere with an American election.

“It is important we do not get distracted from what has always been the true issue at hand,” Enzi said. “Russia’s egregious efforts to interfere with our electoral process … are a serious threat to our country, and I am committed to continuing to work with my colleagues to address this.”

Barrasso and Enzi also both indicated they would welcome the release of as much of the report as is possible.

Driskill: DC judge’s ruling on Wyoming oil & gas permits “idiotic… a tragedy”

in Energy/News
1163

By Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming Senate Vice President Ogden Driskill for Senate District #1 has strong words on the ruling from Washington, D.C. judge Rudolph Contreras.

The federal district court judge ruled in favor of environmental activists, finding that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to consider climate change when issuing permits on 300,000 acres of federal land in Wyoming.

The ruling blocked further development on those lands until climate change’s impacts are assessed.

Rachel’s Challenge leaves lasting impact on students

in Education/News
1143

By Cowboy State Daily

Last month, Cowboy State Daily visited Cheyenne East High School as Rachel’s Challenge was presented in a series of assemblies and workshops to East High School students.

Rachel’s Challenge, created by the family of 17-year-old Rachel Scott, is based on the “Code of Ethics” the Columbine High School student wrote a month before her death in the Columbine school shooting of 1999.

We went back to East to check in and see if the Rachel’s Challenge message of kindness, inclusion, and dreaming big had a lasting impact on students.

Gift to LCCC will help business students

in Education/News
business students benefit from gift to LCCC
1137

By Becky Orr, Cowboy State Daily

CHEYENNE – Longtime Cheyenne resident Lois Mottonen appreciated the value of education and the doors it could open.

Mottonen, who died in December 2017 at the age of 88, left an education legacy that will benefit generations of Laramie County Community College students and help them share in her appreciation.

A $2.4 million gift from Mottonen will provide new scholarships and education programs at the college.

An honors graduate from Rock Springs High School, Mottonen earned a tuition scholarship to the University of Wyoming, where she was the only woman in her class when she majored in accounting. She was also the second Wyoming woman granted a certified public accounting license.

The gift from Mottonen is really about her own story and Wyoming’s story, said LCCC President Joe Schaffer. Mottonen “pulled herself up by her bootstraps” on her own and overcame barriers, he said. “She should be an inspiration to students.”

Lois C. Mottonen Scholarship

LCCC will use $1 million of the gift to create the Lois C. Mottonen Scholarship, said Lisa Trimble, the college’s associate vice president of Institutional Advancement. Scholarships will provide up to $15,000 per student.

“Her gift will continue to open doors, provide opportunities and inspire others to make an impact,” Trimble said.

The endowed fund will provide scholarships for students who are 25 years old or older and who enroll full-time in identified programs that are part of the Rediscover LCCC.

Rediscover LCCC is a pilot scholarship program that will pay for students’ tuition and fees in high-demand degree and certificate programs for up to two years.

Scholarships will be for students who want to return to college to get a degree and who don’t qualify for most traditional scholarships, Trimble said. Endowed funds from the Mottonen scholarships will be available in the fall of 2020.

For business students, programs available in Rediscover LCCC include accounting, financial services concentration, business and finance, business management, business management supply chain concentration and entrepreneurship. These are designed for a student to complete and find a job or transfer to a university to obtain a bachelor’s degree and then enter a career.

Students who apply for the Mottonen scholarships:

  • Must be a Wyoming resident 25 or older, have lived in the state for three or more years and have a demonstrated financial need;
  • Cannot previously have earned an associate, bachelor or graduate degree, and;
  • Must choose one of the identified business programs and attend as a full-time student who maintains a B averages or above.

Center for Essential Student Experiences

Another $982,900 will be used by the college to develop a Center for Essential Student Experiences and establish the Lois C. Mottonen Student Experience Fund. The goal is to make students more marketable when they enter the workforce by giving them access to hands-on learning experiences such as internships or studying abroad, Trimble said. 

“Essential experiences are opportunities designed to provide LCCC students with real-life experiences prior to completing their degrees,” she said.

 This fund will be available in fall 2020.The college also will contribute $200,000 of Mottonen’s gift to Rediscover LCCC to help support students who take part in its business programs.

LCCC will use $300,000 of Mottonen’s gift to help develop and design a new innovative business program for students and provide scholarships to the first participants, Trimble said.

The gift will help jump start the college’s efforts to create an applied baccalaureate or bachelor’s degree of applied sciences in applied management, Schaffer said.

Endowed funds means that Mottonen’s legacy will extend into perpetuity, Schaffer added.  

“LCCC is lucky to have community members such as Ms. Mottonen, whose planned giving support will impact generations to come,” he said.

For more about how to apply for scholarships, call LCCC, 307-778-5222.

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