Lusk, Wyoming’s, loved Tracy Alger remembered during FFA fundraiser
Tracy Alger left her brand on Wyoming’s agriculture community during her time and in turn her family and friends honored her with an event to benefit local FFA chapters.
The Tracy Alger Memorial Match Bronc Riding, Western Art and Tack Auction took place Sept. 10 in Kaycee, Wyoming.
More than $25,000 was raised to benefit the Kaycee and Lusk FFA chapters and will be placed in an endowment. Students may apply for project scholarships, which will be funded by interest generated on the funds.
The Forbes family’s last rodeo of their summer series opened Saturday’s event, followed by a match bronc riding hosted by Alger’s brother, Chet Johnson, four-time National Finals Rodeo qualifying saddler bronc rider. A calcutta of participants added to the funds raised.
“Our son Chet pro rodeos and he got some of his good buddies to be in the match saddle bronc ride. That went over really, really well,” said Susan Johnson, Alger’s mom. “The guys were really good to come, and they all knew and loved Tracy. That meant a lot to our family.”
After the rodeo and match bronc riding, an auction of donated items and dinner followed.
“The art and tack auction was amazing. The donations given for this auction, included a handmade bed, tack and custom artwork,” said Jennifer Womack, Alger’s longtime friend and business partner. Alger’s dad Gary made a pair of spurs that wound up topping the sale. “I’ve never been to another auction like it. Everyone brought stuff they made, gifts from the heart,” said Johnson.
Susan said the spurs made by Gary held a special meaning. Gary always hoped his daughter, who inherited his artistic gene, would engrave silver with him.
“Gary has made bits and spurs for years, actually he supported us one winter when we had cattle but the cash flow was not the best,” Susan said. “He said he would make a pair of spurs for the memorial. Tracy and him were really close. He was hoping someday she would be his engraver. That didn’t happen. That was his contribution; that was a big one.”
The spurs were paired with a set of spur straps donated by Dona Vold Larsen, of Casper, Wyoming. The set sold for $2,400 to Stan Rennard, of Lusk, Wyoming, whose granddaughter Peyton Kottwitz is in the newly-renewed Lusk FFA Chapter.
It is estimated that 250 to 300 people attended the dinner and auction.
“The auction was pretty neat to see. Tracy was very artistic and she did a lot of graphic design for the Wyoming Pioneer Association and the Converse County Tourism Board,” Womack said. “A lot of auction items had her touch to them. I was proud to call Wyoming home Saturday night. People came together for a great cause and to memorialize a wonderful person in such a fitting manner.”
After passing unexpectedly in May of 2014, Alger was nominated for an Honorary American FFA Degree, which has two recipients from each state annually. The honor was definitely earned. She was active in Wyoming Ag in the Classroom, Wyoming Cattlewomen and Johnson County Cattlewomen, and the Ag Seminar in Buffalo, Wyoming.
“Tracy really impacted the state of Wyoming. I don’t even know how much. She was so humble about it, so I don’t know all that she did,” Susan said.”There were over 1,000 people at funeral. That speaks volumes. She was a loved little lady.”
When Alger was recognized at the National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, Susan and Womack concurred that they wanted to do something to honor her further.
“We visited and decided we wanted to do a scholarship of some kind. It started small and just got bigger and better. Jennifer knows what she’s doing; she’s the executive director of Wyoming FFA Foundation and worked for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup with Tracy,” Susan said. “While we were sitting there this whole memorial started there at the FFA Convention. Jennifer took it and ran with it.”
Susan said she appreciates Womack’s efforts in the event and knows she still misses Alger.
“We gave Jennifer a pair of spurs. She has done so much for our family. She finished up some projects that Tracy started. She said she needed to do that,” Susan said. “The spurs aren’t made yet, so however she wants to design them she can. That’s from our family.”
As for Lusk restarting the FFA program, Susan said Tracy would be happy for the benefits students will receive from participation in the association.
“There are so many facets to FFA and agriculture. There are kids that are not even from farms and ranches that have participated in FFA and have those kids go on to do some cool stuff,” Susan said. “With Lusk being a ranching community it’s a shame they haven’t had an FFA program for a while.”
Susan still considers Lusk home and she and Gary run cattle north of Lusk.
“Tracy grew up in Lusk. Kaycee is where she lived, and they’re both smaller schools. It’s harder for them to get money for different things,” she said. “A scholarship is at least something for the kids to work for. Ag is a really good industry it would surprise people how many doors FFA opens for them.”
Alger’s dedication of time and effort will continue within FFA and the agriculture community, though now through the scholarships in her name.
“For us to give back to Lusk and agriculture is neat, and for us to give it in Tracy’s name is her legacy. Her kids may have a chance to get it when they’re older if they stay in Kaycee,” Susan said. “Tracy was so passionate about ag and kids, what better way to honor her than doing this. We lost her so young, but instead of being bitter, we’d like to be positive. What better way than giving kids a foothold in college.”