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Online initiative shares rural Wyoming stories

Wyoming

Encana Oil & Gas Inc. granted $23,630 to the Wyoming Stock Growers Association to continue funding the RealRanchers.com initiative, which exists to share the true stories of Wyoming farmers, ranchers, energy workers and rural citizens in order to strengthen rural communities.

"We value our partnership with Encana USA and are honored by their continued support of RealRanchers.com," WSGA Communication Director Liz Lauck said. "This grant will allow us to grow our social media efforts and continue to achieve our goal of sharing 'what really happens in the meadows, mountains and Main Streets of Wyoming.'"

RealRanchers.com shares rural Wyoming stories through social media including the blog, at www.realranchers.com, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The additional funding from Encana USA allows WSGA to expand the library of stories from the agriculture, energy and rural sectors; update the website for enhanced usability; purchase strategic advertisement for the initiative; and gain visibility at local and regional events.

Most recently, the blog has launched a new section, called RealEnergy. The idea was inspired during a tour of the Jonah Field in Sublette County, Wyo.

"The partnership between ranchers and energy is invaluable," said Randy Teeuwen, Encana USA community relations advisor. "We depend on, trust and work together to find mutually beneficial solutions that focus toward our common goal to implement best multiple-use practices on public lands. This initiative helps drive and strengthen that relationship, and Encana is pleased to be a part of it."

RealRanchers.com was originally created through the Community Dialogues for Rural Wyoming program. CDRW is a partnership between WSGA and Encana USA to secure the health and vitality of Wyoming's rural communities. After conducting listening sessions in Baggs, Boulder, Kaycee, Lusk and Shoshoni, Wyo., all five rural communities expressed a desire to share truthful and positive messages to correct misperceptions and educate consumers and policy makers about rural issues. As a result, they created the RealRanchers.com social media initiative.

"Before, ranchers never needed to talk to consumers," WSGA Program Director Kosha Olsen said. "But now, there are many benefits to applying social media to tell their story and connect with the consumers of their products and land."

RealRanchers.com was launched in June 2010 and is hosted by WSGA. Wyoming rural community members contribute stories, photos and videos to post to the blog and those stories and the other rural messages are promoted through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Thousands of people worldwide take a "virtual visit" to rural Wyoming and now, RealEnergy, each year.

"The resemblances between energy workers and agriculturists are striking," Lauck said. "They are all so proud of the work they do to provide vital resources to the world and, in Wyoming, both industries are greatly intertwined. There is a lot of misinformation about both industries and our blog is the place to find truthful information about agriculture, energy and rural life straight from the folks who live it every day."

For more information about RealRanchers.com or to learn how to contribute stories to our social media efforts, contact Liz Lauck at 307-638-3942 or liz@wysga.org.

Since 1872, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association has served the livestock business and families of Wyoming by protecting their economic, legislative, regulatory, judicial, environmental, custom and cultural interests. We promote the role of the cattle industry in resource stewardship, animal care and the production of high-quality, safe and nutritious beef. Learn more at www.wysga.org or call 307-638-3942.

Date: 9/17/2012



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