We have welcomed another intern into the WSGA office in the last week. Katherine Merck, a law student who also happened to be Miss Rodeo America one year ago at this time, has joined us as a legal intern.
Hello, everyone! My name is Katherine Merck and I am thrilled to be joining the Wyoming Stock Growers Association this summer as the legal intern. I am a native of Spokane, Washington and current law student at Gonzaga University School of Law who fell in love with Wyoming – since my first trip to Cheyenne Frontier Days in 2014 I’ve made a trip back to the Cowboy State every year and I find a reason to stay a little longer each time!
The sport of rodeo inspired both my love of Wyoming and my passion for agriculture. I held the titles of Miss Spokane Interstate Rodeo 2014 and Miss Rodeo Washington 2015 before becoming the first Washingtonian to wear the Miss Rodeo America crown in 2016, an opportunity that allowed me to travel all over the country to represent rodeo and advocate for our Western way of life and the agriculture industry. I continue to be actively involved in the rodeo industry and I love any reason to be outdoors, whether it is riding my horses, fly-fishing, skiing or snowboarding.
Before pursuing my law degree, I earned a double major in finance and medieval studies from the University of Notre Dame (our WSGA Executive Vice President Jim Magagna is also a Notre Dame graduate – Go Irish!). After graduating from Gonzaga this coming December, I hope to further my goal of promoting ethical justice in the areas of land use, water rights and agricultural estate planning. I plan to help famers and ranchers protect their land and way of life by assisting in the succession of land to the next generation and ensuring a viable future for our agricultural industry.
I have already learned more about these areas of law and their practical application in my first two weeks in with the Stock Growers than in two and a half years of law school! My first day on the job was spent on the Garrett Ranch outside of Casper setting up for the Environmental Stewardship Tour. The Garretts were awarded the 2017 Leopold Conservation Award for their active stewardship of their land and I enjoyed learning about the various projects they have implemented in conjunction with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to combat cheat grass and prevent significant erosion into the North Platte River as well as the opportunity to meet members of our ranching community and discuss some of the legal issues that they face in their operations. I finished up the week diving headfirst into Wyoming’s statutes to analyze several brand inspection and transfer issues with Jim’s guidance before heading back to Casper this week for the Select Federal Natural Resource Management Committee and Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee meetings.
The dedication of the Stock Growers to protecting agricultural interests in Wyoming inspires and encourages me to dedicate myself to this industry. I am looking forward to learning more about public land use and the statutory and political issues that ranchers face. I enjoy the financial and practical aspects of estate planning and I am excited to learn about the University of Wyoming’s Wyoming Agriculture & Natural Resource Mediation Program. I have a newfound passion for advocacy, administrative law, and lobbying already and I am thrilled to be able to learn from Jim’s expertise in these areas and expand my understanding of Wyoming ranching and the law. I am so grateful and excited for the opportunity to learn and work in my chosen field as the Wyoming Stock Growers Association legal intern and I am looking forward to a productive and educational summer!