Feb 20, 2013 By Steven R. Peck

Future farmers founded our city, and today's FFA members strengthen it

One of the many things to like about National FFA Week is the fun old practice of painting business windows to help celebrate the participation and effort by local youth. We're in FFA Week through this Sunday.

As you drive around Riverton this week, you'll notice some painted windows displaying the unmistakable enthusiasm of young people doing something they care about -- and have cared about since our county's infancy.

Almost 107 years have come and gone since Riverton was staked out as a townsite in the summer of 1906. Much has been made since then about uranium, oil, natural gas and tourism. But let's all remember that the reason Riverton exists at all is because of an irrigation project.

The reason people took a chance, the reason they staked out their tents in the sagebrush, was agriculture. They thought a crop could be raised. They thought a herd could be started. They thought a flock could be nurtured. They thought they could find a place, secure a market, earn a living and raise a family because of agriculture.

Long before there was a gas well or a paved road to Yellowstone, before anyone knew what uranium was or had heard of a severance tax, the lure of agriculture sparked the settlement and turned eyes, shovels and muscles to the Wind River and ways to bring the water where we needed it.

Back in 1906, everyone who came here could have laid claim to honorary membership in Future Farmers of America. More than a hundred years later, a great many of us still could.

One of the supportive advertisements in our five-page FFA Week coverage Sunday came from Fremont County Sheriff Skip Hornecker. Next to his name -- and a picture of a calf -- were these words: "Past FFA member, Vice President 1970."

That was 43 years ago, but to the sheriff the FFA experience still holds a strong place in mind and memory. He still values it, still draws on it, still wants today's FFA members to know that despite the passing years he is still one of them.

Rest assured, he is not alone. The roots are deep, and the ties still bind.

So take notice of those windows and the businesses that host them, and thanks again to the many local firms that helped sponsor our FFA Week pages, and to the young people who make that support easy to give. You are our community's bedrocks, and you will continue to be so long as people need to eat.

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