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Thorne Selected for Sheep Heritage Scholarship

A California native living in Texas plans to put the 2020 Sheep Heritage Foundation Scholarship to use in Idaho. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Associate Jake Thorne was selected for the $3,000 scholarship and will spend the money working toward a Ph.D. remotely through the University of Idaho.

“I’m just incredibly thankful for this scholarship,” Thorne said. “Cost is always a big concern when continuing your education, so this scholarship is much appreciated.”

Raised on a sheep operation in California, Thorne relocated to Texas to compete with Texas A&M’s livestock judging team in 2008. He earned a bachelors degree two years later and went right to work on his masters, which he finished in 2013.

“When I finished my masters, I thought I was done with school at that point,” said Thorne, who got married in 2015 and welcomed a daughter to the family in 2018. “I was definitely kind of tired of school and needed a break. But then I got involved here at San Angelo, and that sparked my interest. We have both research and extension here, and I was working on both sides. There are definitely some challenges and benefits of going to school while working and having a family. But my family is a source of motivation for me to work hard.”

Even before his masters degree was finished, Thorne accepted a position as a research associate and farm manager for Texas A&M AgriLife in San Angelo, Texas. He served in that role for six years before moving to the extension side of the operation in January 2019. He continues to serve in that role while pursuing his doctorate.

As for working with the University of Idaho, Thorne said he was excited about the university’s Flock54 Program and contacted Dr. Brenda Murdoch at Idaho about joining her team.

Thorne was one of several scholarship candidates in 2020 who has life-long ties to the American sheep industry.

“I’m a sheep guy and I’m passionate about this industry,” he said. “I think there are some industry problems that we can continue working on. There are so many production issues that I know we can solve with a little time and hard work. Parasites and reproduction are huge issues in the sheep industry here in Texas. I want to be a part of the leadership, a part of that core group in the industry that is working to solve these problems.”


Penn State Offers Online Sheep Production Course

Penn State Extension’s online Sheep Management and Production course has recently been completed and is now available online. The course was partially funded through a grant from the Let’s Grow Program of the American Sheep Industry Association.

The course offers eight sections – 25 hours of instruction – suitable for beginner and intermediate sheep producers. Learn the basics of sheep production and how to manage your operation, including breeds and selection, nutrition, health, grazing and marketing.

“In this self-paced course, you’ll use a combination of readings, videos and handouts to learn about the basics of sheep production,” reads the course description. “Readings will be your primary source of information. The course begins with looking at production facilities and how to design a handling system that meets your needs. Videos will teach you how to select the breed of sheep best suited for your goals and operation, how to meet the nutritional needs of your sheep, and how to manage pasture and forage. This course covers breeding and managing sheep through the reproductive cycle, as well as how to identify and correct sheep health problems. You’ll also learn effective ways to market your sheep and lamb products, and how to handle the financial planning for sheep production. Videos will teach you about pricing practices, identifying a market and direct marketing.”

The course offers a certificate of completion for those who earn 70 percent or better on the five-question quiz at the end of each chapter. Penn State is offering the course at a 50 percent discount ($49.50) for students who register through July 31. Once registered, you’ll have 60 days of access to the course material.

Click Here for more information.


NEPA Modernization Rolled Out

On Wednesday, President Donald J. Trump unveiled the Council on Environmental Quality’s final rule to modernize the National Environmental Policy Act. The American Sheep Industry Association and its affiliates have worked with the administration to provide input and comments throughout this effort, and it is clear that the administration heard those comments and made a tremendous step toward cutting through red tape that is holding back the economy.

For the American sheep industry, NEPA has held up the approval of grazing permits and been the constant source of frivolous litigation against the activities of Wildlife Services, the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station and public lands grazing generally. This well-intended law has been tortured by the courts and was desperately in need of an update to provide regulatory clarity and certainty for federal agencies and those that rely on their decisions.

The final rule imposes a presumptive page limit for Economic Impact Statements and Economic Analyses under NEPA and a presumptive time limit of two years for an EIS and one year for an EA. This alone is a significant improvement, as currently a grazing permit renewal takes an average of four-and-half years to complete, and in some cases as many as 10 years.

Additionally, the final rule provides federal agencies’ direction in determining if NEPA applies to a project and, if so, what level of environmental review is appropriate. Moreover, it allows agencies to establish procedures for the use of categorial exclusions where appropriate. The sheep industry has long argued that for many grazing projects, where the use hasn’t changed and the environmental impact has been known for years, if not decades, a categorial exclusion should be used to avoid adding to the NEPA backlog. This rule should allow for that outcome.

The NEPA modernizations do not remove the need for a NEPA review or weaken our nation’s stringent environmental reviews, but they bring a much-needed update to what is the most litigated environmental law in the country.


Texas Sheep & Goat Expo Expands Format

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has announced changes to the 2020 Texas Sheep and Goat Expo.

The annual event, originally slated to take place at the 1st Community Federal Credit Union Spur Arena on the San Angelo Fairgrounds on Aug. 14-15, will now be both at the arena and online.

“With everything going on right now with COVID-19 and rules and associated recommendations continuously changing, the planning committee wanted to ensure the event could go on,” said Robert Pritz, AgriLife Extension regional program leader, San Angelo. “As of now, we plan to hold the event both online and at Spur Arena Aug. 14 and online Aug. 15.”

He said this combined format will allow more people to participate from across the state and give participants the option to experience the Texas Sheep and Goat Expo in whichever format feels more comfortable to them.

“We will be following all state and county guidelines and look forward to bringing together the leaders in the field,” Pritz said.

Business and Technology is the theme of this year’s event and will cover many different segments of the industry and address the concerns and challenges facing producers today. The expo is the largest event of its type in Texas and one of the largest sheep and goat industry educational programs in the world, said event organizers.

Those interested should periodically check the Texas Sheep and Goat Expo Facebook page for updates and before traveling to the live event. Once details are finalized, registration will be available on the Texas Sheep and Goat Expo website.

Registration fees are as follows:

  • Live and Virtual Expo: $40, includes lunch Aug. 14 for in-person participants.
  • Virtual Only Expo: $40, includes virtual access both days.
  • Virtual Youth Skill-a-thon: $15 for the event on Aug. 15.

Source: Texas A&M AgriLife


Trailing of the Sheep Festival Cancelled

The Board of Directors of the Trailing of the Sheep Festival has announced cancellation of the 2020 Festival.

“We made this decision with great thought and heavy hearts, but we have a moral obligation for the safety of everyone involved to cancel this year’s event due to the COVID-19 public health pandemic,” said Board President John Peavey. “But we will be back, better than ever, to celebrate our milestone 25th Anniversary, October 6-10, 2021.”

The festival board, staff and team are aware of the implications of this decision, including the inability to celebrate, gather together or educate as well as the loss of the annual $4.5 million economic impact the event has on the community.

“It is our hope that you support the local community any way you can and celebrate the sheep in your own way as you see them passing through town,” said Peavey. “The sheep trailing tradition has been going on in the Wood River Valley for over 150 years and since we can’t formally celebrate this 24th year of the festival in our typical grand style, we hope you will capture your favorite photos and create your own memories.”

Details on the festival’s plans for its 25th anniversary event, Oct. 6-10, 2021, will be posted at

Source: Trailing of the Sheep Festival


ASI Photo Contest Deadline is Aug. 3

Mark your calendars now, as the deadline for the 2020 ASI Photo Contest is Aug. 3. All entries must be submitted by 5 p.m. mountain time on that date. The top three finishers in each category will receive a cash prize and be featured in the October issue of the Sheep Industry News.

ASI made a change in adding a working dog category in 2019 and it was well received. This year, the association would like to invite those with other protection animals (llamas, donkeys, etc.) to submit photos in that category, as well.

Otherwise, rules and prizes for the 2020 contest are the same as last year. Photographs entered in the contest will be judged on clarity, content, composition and appeal. More than $1,000 will be awarded, with awards of $125 going to the first-place photographer in each of the five categories; $75 for the runner-up in each category; and a $50 prize for third place in each of the five categories. Again, entries must be received in the ASI office by 5 p.m. mountain time on Monday, Aug. 3, to be considered. Only the top three photographers in each category will be notified of their winnings.

Click Here for complete contest rules.


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