Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation honors Hamilton with Distinguished Service Award
Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton was awarded the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Distinguished Service Award at the 99th annual meeting of the organization. Presented Nov. 8, the award is given to those who have gone above and beyond in their service to agriculture.
“We are proud to recognize Ken for his dedication to agriculture and Farm Bureau in Wyoming,” said Todd Fornstrom, WyFB president. “Ken is a dedicated leader who is passionate about ensuring agriculture’s voice is heard through Farm Bureau.”
Hamilton joined the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation staff 35 years ago as field staff and research assistant. He then served as the director of field services and later became the administrative assistant. In 2004, he was named the executive vice president of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation.
Growing up on a ranch and talking with family about politics and their impact on agriculture has led Hamilton to a lifetime of Farm Bureau leadership for Wyoming farmers and ranchers. According to Hamilton, he was always aware of policy discussions growing up, but notes there is a difference in having an opinion and taking the next step of carrying out policy discussions.
“It wasn’t until I started to work for Farm Bureau that I began to see how those opinions are carried out to influence public policy,” he explained. “Rather than just complain about concerns, Farm Bureau gives a whole group of people the opportunity to get behind a policy issue and do something about the concerns.”
Advocating for and leading discussions on agriculture policy issues is how Hamilton makes a difference for Wyoming farmers and ranchers. He believes strongly in Farm Bureau’s policy development process because it allows for input from a diverse group of agriculture folks. The spirited discussions at every level on resolutions ensure the policy is well vetted. When a majority opinion is reached a good foundation has been established to communicate the needs of farmers and ranchers. Policy and people drive his passion for the work of Farm Bureau.
“Farm Bureau is a really good organization; I may be a bit biased since I’ve been working for the organization for 35 years,” Hamilton said. “The whole process we go through in order to develop policies to represent our members is a very good process in my opinion.”
“Being a general agriculture organization is important as well because there will be times when policies would be beneficial to one segment of agriculture yet hurt another segment and our process seeks to address those concerns,” he continued. “And the process itself helps develop leadership that can be useful and translated across to other organizations.”
Hamilton noted it is the people he works for and with that are the heart and soul of the organization. “The relationships you have with farmers and ranchers in the counties is so valuable,” he said. “There have been a lot of really good leaders over the years and there continues to be good leaders with which we get to work.” Legislators call on him for an understanding of agriculture issues as his broad base of education, experience and interest have proven to be a strong resource.
“That is the crux of this whole process,” Hamilton said. “It doesn’t do you any good to come up with a position on issues and then not work with people on those issues. Legislators and agency staff know we have a process to develop policy that solicits input from our members on many levels before voting delegates approve the policy. That is helpful in the work we do for agriculture.”
Sheep, cattle, hay, federal lands grazing and irrigation were all a part of Ken’s upbringing. Ken grew up on the Hamilton Ranch near Hyattville with his parents, Eleanor and the late Merle Hamilton, and brother Keith. The Hamilton Ranch was recognized in 2015 as a Wyoming Centennial Ranch and is run by Keith and Linda Hamilton and family.
Ken and his wife, Kathy, just celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary. Kathy is a certified public accountant. They have one son, Ian.
Hamilton said he was surprised to hear his name called. “I’ve never felt that I was in the same league as a lot of the folks we have recognized with this award,” he concluded. “I cannot deny that I was really pleased when I received this award. To have this recognition is something that is pretty special.”
“The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation is proud to honor Ken Hamilton with the Distinguished Service Award,” Fornstrom said. “Making a difference for Wyoming farmers and ranchers by representing Farm Bureau members on agriculture policy issues is what Ken is all about. We thank him for his distinguished leadership and service to agriculture and Wyoming.”