Friends, neighbors and supporters of the Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Land Trust gathered to celebrate another year of protecting working ranches at the Annual Roundup Barbecue Aug. 27 at the Hat 2 Ranch near Meeteetse, Wyo.

Hosted by Hat 2 Ranch owners Kasey & Ondi Shepperson, the Roundup Barbecue highlighted the value of ranchland conservation with a tour of their conserved property. The Shepperson Family completed an easement in 2010 on nearly 14,000 acres to protect their cattle ranch for their children Shawn, Lauran & Shanan and future generations.

The Roundup Barbecue included a steak dinner by High Country Catering, dessert donated by the Meeteetse Chocolatier and dance music by Dave & Ian Munsick. Our guests heard remarks on the critical need for conservation of Wyoming’s working ranchlands and open spaces by U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis and Governor Matt Mead. We were also joined by State Auditor Cynthia Cloud and many state legislators.

As in years past, the highlight of the evening was the announcement of the 2011 Kurt Bucholz Conservation Award recipient, a closely held secret each year. This year’s award was presented to the family of the late Jim Chant, a rancher from the Little Snake River Valley who passed away in March 2011. Jim was a well educated man who took pleasure in spending time with his family, showing his cattle dogs, ranching on Wyoming’s open ranges and serving his community.

A surprise award was also presented to long-time land trust supporter and the late Kurt Bucholz’s beloved wife, Laura. Dr. John Lunt presented a bas-relief plaque of the Bucholz Conservation Award in recognition of Laura’s dedication to ranchland conservation.

The Shepperson Family was also presented with belt buckles, which the Stock Growers Land Trust awards to landowners who complete a conservation easement with us, and a lovely photograph taken by renowned photographer and local legend Charles Belden.

The mission of the Stock Growers Land Trust was also generously supported through bidders in the silent auction, live auction with auctioneer Joe Thomas, and Conservation Acres pledges. The unrestricted revenue raised will strengthen our effectiveness as a statewide organization and dramatically increase our ability to promote land conservation throughout the coming year.

This successful event was made possible by Annual Roundup Barbecue Committee members Dianne & Jon Kirkbride, Alan & Gayle Barnett, Shari & Patrick Baird, Trudy Eisele, Nancy Prosser, Echo Renner and Lili Turnell. Thank you to our many generous sponsors and auction donors and to the Meeteetse community for your tremendous support and hospitality.

Read Ondi Shepperson’s account of the 2011 Roundup Barbecue on her blog.