LARAMIE — A Riverton native and president of Farm Credit Services of America, and the owner of a forest products company with headquarters in Hulett are this year’s outstanding alumni award recipients from the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Doug Stark and Jim Neiman will receive the alumni awards during Ag Appreciation Weekend Sept. 13-14 at UW. Victor McMurry will receive the Legacy Award; the Wyoming Mining Association (WMA) the Outstanding Research/Partner Award; and long-time professor of agricultural economics, Dale Menkhaus, the Andrew Vanvig Lifetime Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award.
Stark received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural business in 1980 and joined FCSAmerica. He became president and CEO in 2005. Stark oversees a loan portfolio of more than $18.5 billion with 60,000 producers.FCSAmerica serves Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.
A particular passion is leadership, and he collaborates with Frank Galey, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, in a leadership class each year at UW.
“It’s a passion I have,” he said. “One of the essences of being an effective leader is inspiring a shared vision. It’s really about getting people to care. Leading is not about a title or position — it’s about action and purpose that really can apply anywhere in any business and in any line or career line of business.”
Neiman received his range management degree in 1974 and heads Neiman Enterprises Inc., which is a wood products businesses headquartered in Hulett with facilities in Hill City and Spearfish, S.D., and Montrose, Colo.
The company’s sustainability practices, promoted by Neiman, draw praise from the forestry arena.
“Neiman Enterprises has been a regional and national leader in the forest products industry even during the economic downturn of 2008,” said Robert Means, Wyoming Bureau of Land Management state forester and climate change coordinator.
Neiman has a long list of service to the state — including the University of Wyoming. He served on the UW Board of Trustees for 12 years, which included two years as president.
Neiman reflected upon his volunteering for numerous boards in the state and the university.
“There is something about your alma mater,” he said. “You have to lead by example. How do you go from success to significance? How do you help others? That’s an important part of it.”
The WMA has worked directly with the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics in the college and others for many years on annual publications, major projects and reclamation technology.
“Consistent goals have created long-lasting partnerships between the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the WMA membership,” noted Roger Coupal, associate professor and head of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.
Although his father was in the construction business, McMurry chose to attend the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. He transferred to UW from Casper College in fall 1967 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in farm and ranch management in 1970.
“It was a wonderful place. I was entirely comfortable,” said McMurry. “And it’s now even more focused on trying to provide what people across the state need. The UW college of agriculture is the top in the country as far as I’m concerned.”
His is the lead gift for the Dean’s Excellence Fund in the college, said Galey.
“Thanks to Vic, the college will be able to pursue new initiatives to address important issues facing Wyoming’s agriculture, renewable resource base and rural communities,” he said.
The fund supports speaker presentations, panel discussions, guest lectures, short courses and public forums that make science-based information available to the public.
The award’s namesake — Andrew Vanvig, a long-time professor in the college — hired Menkhaus in 1973. Since then, Menkhaus has published 80 journal articles, been cited 847 times in literature, received nearly $1.5 million in extramural funding as principal investigator or co-PI, mentored 27 graduate students as committee chair, served on an additional 61 Ph.D. and master’s student committees, received numerous teaching awards, been selected as Fulbright Scholar and received national and regional awards for outreach and scholarship and has been recognized for his contributions to the Wyoming economy.
“His unassuming nature and quiet leadership have garnered him the lasting respect of countless students, administrators and colleagues within the university and the agricultural economics discipline,” said Coupal in nominating Menkhaus.