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Women in Wyoming Podcast

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Women in Wyoming features inspiring and influential women across the state of Wyoming who are breaking boundaries and shaping the west today. Told through podcast and portrait photography by Lindsay Linton Buk of Linton Productions, Women in Wyoming features modern pioneers, rule breakers and innovative thinkers who show how it's possible to be limitless, find one's full capacity and voice, and think big presently in the state of Wyoming. Visit http://www.womeninwyoming.com to see the full project featuring each subject's portrait and interview.

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Women in Wyoming features inspiring and influential women across the state of Wyoming who are breaking boundaries and shaping the west today. Told through podcast and portrait photography by Lindsay Linton Buk of Linton Productions, Women in Wyoming features modern pioneers, rule breakers and innovative thinkers who show how it's possible to be limitless, find one's full capacity and voice, and think big presently in the state of Wyoming. Visit http://www.womeninwyoming.com to see the full project featuring each subject's portrait and interview.

iTunes Ratings

14 Ratings
Average Ratings
14
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Great podcast about the Equality State

By Pharrin2 - Oct 18 2017
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MUST LISTEN! This a wonderful and entertaining podcast about the women who make Wyoming, Wyoming. Look no farther than this for interesting perspectives on the coolest square state.

iTunes Ratings

14 Ratings
Average Ratings
14
0
0
0
0

Great podcast about the Equality State

By Pharrin2 - Oct 18 2017
Read more
MUST LISTEN! This a wonderful and entertaining podcast about the women who make Wyoming, Wyoming. Look no farther than this for interesting perspectives on the coolest square state.
Cover image of Women in Wyoming Podcast

Women in Wyoming Podcast

Latest release on Sep 29, 2019

Read more

Women in Wyoming features inspiring and influential women across the state of Wyoming who are breaking boundaries and shaping the west today. Told through podcast and portrait photography by Lindsay Linton Buk of Linton Productions, Women in Wyoming features modern pioneers, rule breakers and innovative thinkers who show how it's possible to be limitless, find one's full capacity and voice, and think big presently in the state of Wyoming. Visit http://www.womeninwyoming.com to see the full project featuring each subject's portrait and interview.

Rank #1: Jill Winger | Online homestead mentor and author of The Prairie Homestead Cookbook

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Jill Winger’s homesteading evolution began when she and her husband Christian bought a 67-acre, tumbledown property outside of Chugwater, Wyoming. Flooded with an overwhelming rush of inspiration on how she could make their land sustainable, they started a compost pile, bought a few chickens, and began delving into the homesteading lifestyle. In 2010, Jill launched her official brand, The Prairie Homestead, which started as an online blog to share what she was learning with other like-minded souls. Today, Jill has grown her brand into a global platform with tens of thousands of followers who want to live more intentional lives. She recently debuted her cookbook in partnership with Macmillian Publishers; it quickly became an Amazon best seller. Self-described as “old-fashioned on purpose,” Jill’s philosophy to return to the land is not to be trendy but because it brings her a great sense of peace and joy. An entrepreneur and influencer, Jill loves empowering others to incorporate rural arts and skills into their lives, no matter where they live, and reap the physical and mental health benefits that can result from living more simply.

Portraits and Podcast by Lindsay Linton Buk, Women in Wyoming. © 2019, All Rights Reserved.

Sep 28 2019

27mins

Play

Rank #2: Marilyn Kite | Wyoming's first female Supreme Court Justice

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Episode 02 features Wyoming's first female Supreme Court and first female Chief Justice, Marilyn Kite. Marilyn is thoroughly a Wyoming woman - she was born in Laramie, attended the University of Wyoming, and stayed in Wyoming after graduation where she’d be an influential force in developing the Wyoming branch of Holland & Hart (now a nationwide law firm). During our interview, I talk with Marilyn about how she came to serve in Wyoming’s Supreme court, why she felt a woman should have occupied that position years earlier, and how more women can follow in her footsteps.

Podcast produced by Linton Productions.

Oct 02 2017

24mins

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Rank #3: Affie Ellis | Wyoming's first Native American State Senator

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In January 2017, Affie Ellis became the first Navajo and first Native American person to ever serve in Wyoming's State Senate. Affie's adamant that her rise to politics is a job, not her identity, she's committed to doing the best possible job for Wyoming. Affie's story of success is one of self-starting and stepping up.

Podcast produced by Linton Productions.

Oct 03 2017

23mins

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Rank #4: Clarene Law | Self-made business mogul & community steward

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Clarene grew up in a blue-collar family and became a self-made millionaire through her hotel and business endeavors. Clarene doesn’t think of herself that way, though. In her mind, her greatest success is her network of relationships with others, because it’s their support that got her to where she is today. Clarene is well-known in her community and around the state for her kindness and commitment to helping people, as well as for her roles in public service. She served 14 years in state legislature, as well as on numerous boards and commissions. Clarene can still can be found most days working at the Antler - her flagship motel, which she purchased 55 years ago. At 84 years old, why does she go to work everyday? “Because it needs done.”

Podcast by Linton Productions.

Oct 03 2017

28mins

Play

Rank #5: Lori Olson | Backcountry pilot and rural airstrip advocate

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Backcountry pilot and rural airstrip advocate Lori Olson came from a flying family in Upton, Wyoming. Her father was a navigator in WWII and later, used his plane as a means to transport Lori and her siblings across the state. Growing up, Lori was afraid to fly, but after moving back to Upton with her husband and twin daughters, the urge to fly became so strong she couldn't ignore it. She took a discovery course flight and was hooked. In the five short years that Lori has pursued her dream to fly, she's become the director of the Upton Municipal airport, and leads a statewide task force to save rural airstrips around the state. A commercial pilot, Lori prefers to land in the backcountry versus on pavement. 

During our interview, Lori and I talk about her dream to fly and how her world has changed from following her heart and pursuing her dream.

Jul 08 2018

20mins

Play

Rank #6: Nina McConigley | Award-winning author & professor

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Nina McConigley is an accomplished author whose work tells a less common story of Wyoming- one of identity, race and the immigrant experience in the rural West. Nina's first book, Cowboys and East Indians, won the prestigious Pen Open Book Award in 2014, as well as the High Plains Book award and made Oprah’s List. Nina tells me what it was like growing up in Wyoming as a woman of color, her creative process and her upcoming novel.

Podcast by Linton Productions.

Oct 03 2017

29mins

Play

Rank #7: Nimi McConigley | Groundbreaking journalist & politician

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Nimi McConigley’s storied life began in Madras, India where she became an established journalist- working for India’s first and to-date, only female Prime Minister, Indira Ghandi. Later, Nimi became the first woman of color to run a television news station in Casper, Wyoming, and later, ran for office and became the first Indian-born person in the entire US to serve in state government. Nimi's story is a true tale of courage, being yourself and embracing difference as a strength.

Podcast by Linton Productions.

Oct 03 2017

33mins

Play

Rank #8: Rita Watson | The longest serving employee at the Wyoming Department of Education

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Rita Watson grew up during the Jim Crow segregated south in Durham, North Carolina. She was the first black person to work at Woolworth’s Five and Dime store in Durham and continued to advance in her career as the climate improved for African Americans in the United States. In 1965, Rita moved from the south to the rural West after her husband was transferred to F.E. Warren Airforce Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The first time she and her husband drove into Cheyenne, she asked him to show her downtown. “This is it!” he proclaimed. Certain they would only stay for a couple of years, Rita began her tenure with the state of Wyoming and became active in the community. Cheyenne’s been home for Rita and her family for over half a decade.

Rita began her employment with the state of Wyoming in November 1969 in the Department of Health, Vital Records Services, then transferred to the Department of Education in 1974. Since then, Rita has been the most constant presence within the Wyoming Department of Education, assisting the past eight Wyoming Superintendents of Education, beginning with Dr. Robert Shrader in 1974. From there, Rita worked with Lynn Simons from 1979 to 1991, Diana J. Ohman from 1991 to 1995, Judy Catchpole from 1995 to 2003, Dr. Trent Blankeship from 2003 to 2005, Dr. Jim McBride from 2005 to 2011, Cindy Hill from 2011 to 2014 and current Wyoming Superintendent of Education, Jillian Balow, since 2014. Rita also worked for two interim superintendents between the years 2011 and 2014: Dr. Jim Rose and Richard Crandall.

Rita, quite simply, loves her job; she loves to make a difference in education and in the lives of others. Rita is also active in the community, volunteering and organizing many charitable causes. She’s a founding member of the Love & Charity Club, most well-known for organizing the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march in Cheyenne since 1982.

When I asked Rita about wanting to make it a few more years at the Department of Education (Rita is almost 80), she adamantly proclaimed, “At least! I love what I do. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do. . . other than work!”

Mar 08 2019

17mins

Play

Rank #9: Aura Newlin | Wyoming anthropologist and educator on the Japanese American incarceration of WWII

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Aura Newlin is an anthropologist, educator, advocate and public speaker whose Wyoming roots run deep. A 4th-generation, Japanese American Wyomingite, Aura grew up in Riverton, Wyoming. Her parents, former peace-corps volunteers, exposed Aura and her siblings to a broader world through international volunteer work. This global imprint influenced Aura’s interest in learning about other cultures and led her to become an anthropologist. “Anthropology turns everything on its head. As anthropologists, we try to understand what it might be like to live in someone else’s shoes, to understand what their experiences are like through their eyes.” Aura loves sharing the world with her students by introducing them to anthropology and the practice of “questioning whether something is normal and natural or if that’s just seemingly normal and natural because that’s the way you were raised.”

Aura landed her dream job teaching anthropology and sociology at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, a mere 15 miles from the Heart Mountain confinement site. After Pearl Harbor, up to 14,000 Japanese American immigrants and their children were incarcerated at Heart Mountain, one of ten confinement sites established by the War Relocation Authority during WWII. Her great-grandfather made his career as a railroader in southern Wyoming, but by WWII had moved to Hollywood, California for health reasons. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, effectively placing approximately 120,000 Japanese immigrants and their American-born children in war-time camps, Aura’s great-grandfather was sent back to Wyoming, this time to Heart Mountain. Aura’s grandfather, living and working for the Union Pacific railroad in Green River, Wyoming at this same time, was fired along with all the other employees of Japanese ancestry. Later, her grandfather was offered his job back, but he declined.

For Aura, working as an educator in such close proximity to her relatives’ experience at Heart Mountain “feels like destiny.” In addition to teaching her students, she speaks around the state and to legal audiences around the country about what happened at Heart Mountain and the Japanese American incarceration.

Reflecting on why she continues to educate her students and speak to various audiences, she says, “We need to embrace the bad along with the good, because it’s part of what makes us who we are. I don’t see Heart Mountain as something that belongs to Japanese American history. It is American history, and it is Wyoming history. As I go around the state talking with different communities about this, I hope to instill some of that passion and hope that I feel about this history. I would like to continue to have a voice at the national level and to be heard because we have an important story that needs to be told, and I like telling it.”

Mar 08 2019

25mins

Play

Rank #10: Megan Grassell | Founder & CEO of Yellowberry

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Megan Grassell is a teen founder and the CEO of Yellowberry- a bra, underwear, activewear and loungewear company for girls ages 8-14. Megan grew up in Pinedale, Wyoming and later in Jackson as a competitive ski racer. She founded Yellowberry when she was 17 years old after discovering the only option for her younger sister's first bra was a leopard print push-up or a sports bra. Determined to create a non-sexualized, stylish first bra option for young girls, Megan launched Yellowberry to national acclaim. At 22, Megan's partnered with American Eagle, has been featured on Good Morning America and the Today Show, and been named to Time's 25 Most Influential Teens, Yahoo's 24 Millennials to Watch and Forbes 30 Under 30 lists.

During our interview, Megan and I talk about how growing up in Wyoming influenced her entrepreneurial journey, her mission to become the brand that girls grow up with, and her passion to help other girls realize their ambition and own their unique strengths and talents.

Jul 03 2018

20mins

Play

Rosie Berger | Former Wyoming legislator and community leader

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The eldest of seven children, Rosie stepped into leadership at an early age. Growing up on a dairy farm in Daleyville, Wisconsin, Rosie determined by age 13 to get a good education, learn French, and travel. She worked in Switzerland and studied art history at the University of Wisconsin. On a road trip out West, Rosie fell in love with the Rocky Mountains and eventually settled in Sheridan where she’s lived since 1978. She managed and co-owned Sheridan’s Brittain World Travel for 18 years, and served as President of the Sheridan Chamber of Commerce. As a community leader, Rosie worked with the Wyoming Film Commission, Sheridan Arts Council, Wyoming Theater Board, State Parks and Cultural Resources Commission, and the Dog and Cat Shelter, among other organizations. During her seven terms in Wyoming’s House of Representatives, Rosie worked with four Governors and was involved in almost every aspect of state government. Most notably, she helped institute legislation for the judicial system, landowner rights, economic development, health industry, and the prevention of animal cruelty. She served as chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Speaker Pro Temp, and Majority Leader. Rosie was chair of the Council of State Governments-West, and on the executive board of the National Conference of State Legislatures. She is a 2002 graduate of Leadership Wyoming and a founder of the Leap Into Leadership event and of the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus, both of which encourage women to rise up and pursue leadership positions. Rosie continues to be involved in several Wyoming affairs, which fulfill her mission to build up and serve her community.

Portraits and Podcast by Lindsay Linton Buk, Women in Wyoming. © 2019, All Rights Reserved.

Sep 29 2019

27mins

Play

Ann Simpson | Wyoming steward, mental health advocate, and champion for the arts

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Ann Simpson grew up on a small farm in Greybull, Wyoming. As the wife of former United States Senator Alan Simpson, she had the opportunity to travel and experience the world. The exposure to people and cultures here and abroad informed and inspired Ann’s many projects across the decades. Throughout her years in politics, first with father-in-law Milward Simpson and continuing with husband Al in the Wyoming State Legislature and the U. S. Senate, Ann learned that by extending oneself to people of all types, they respond in kind. This realization has been a guiding force throughout her life and is at the heart of her good works. Time spent in Germany as part of Al’s army career led Ann to start the first American Field Service study abroad program in Cody. This program allowed Wyoming youth to travel abroad, while bringing students from around the world to Wyoming. A mental health advocate, Ann was passionately involved in the Congressional Wives Mental Health Group and the Lab School of Washington for Children with Dyslexia. As a champion of the arts, Ann was spurred to create the University of Wyoming’s most successful art outreach effort: The Ann Simpson Artmobile. Named in her honor, the Artmobile has traveled the state for more than 30 years showcasing pieces from the University of Wyoming Art Museum’s collection, exposing Wyoming communities to the arts, and engaging students with hands-on activities.

Sep 29 2019

22mins

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Jessie Allen | Manager of Allen's Diamond 4 ranch, yogi, outfitter, and former Miss Wyoming

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Jessie Allen is a sixth-generation Wyoming outdoorswoman whose mission is to create connection and community in the mountains. Living off the grid for half the year at 9,200 feet, Jessie manages Allen’s Diamond 4 Ranch, located in the heart of the Wind River Mountains and Wyoming’s highest elevation guest ranch. A multifaceted woman, Jessie served as a state officer for Future Farmers of America (FFA) while she was attending the University of Wyoming, which sparked inspiration to compete for (and win) the title of Miss Wyoming in 2014. Now the full-time manager of her family’s guest ranch, Jessie leads a variety of folks into the wilderness for horseback adventures. Each summer, she guides week-long women's wilderness yoga retreats. She also brings families and groups into the mountains to ride, fly fish, and hike. In the fall, she guides archery and rifle hunters. During her off-seasons, she leads students into the wilderness for National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). She’s an avid adventurer and lives life with curiosity and an explorer’s mindset. Jessie pursued her yoga teacher training in Thailand, worked as a handler for the Yukon Quest (a thousand-mile dog sled race in Alaska), and spent four months traveling solo in New Zealand, working on dairy farms, horse-trekking operations, and sheep stations. As a guide, teacher, and leader, Jessie creates transformational opportunities in the mountains where her clients learn to bridge gaps, find common ground, and overall, build a broader human connection.

Portraits and Podcast by Lindsay Linton Buk, Women in Wyoming. © 2019, All Rights Reserved.

Sep 29 2019

37mins

Play

Lauren Gurney | D.U.S.T.O.F.F. MEDEVAC pilot and owner of Jackson Hole Cake Company

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Wyoming’s only female Army MEDEVAC pilot, Lauren “Lolo” Gurney’s mission is to fly and save lives. Piloting UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, Lauren’s flight journey had humble beginnings, first inspired by watching the movie Dumbo as a child. Between the ages of 9 and 19, she raced cars with her dad and worked as a mechanic in his pit crew; when she was 16, the Sport Car Club of America honored her with the title of “Mechanic of the Year.” Her grandfather, a veterinarian, Korean War paramedic, and former NASA Valkyrie project technician, pushed Lauren to pursue her flight, outer space, science, and medical interests. Enlisting in the Army at 17 years old, she graduated from military college in pre-medicine and, five years later, graduated from flight school. Lauren has served multiple deployments abroad, including combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, where she served as the officer-in-charge (OIC). She’s an active member of the Wyoming National Guard as a UH-60 test pilot and pilot in command. When she’s not flying helicopters, Lauren lives in Moose, Wyoming where she’s the owner and head baker of Jackson Hole Cake Company. A self-taught professional baker and chocolatier, Lauren’s baking business is her creative outlet and joy where she builds relationships around love and connection. She’s baked in every country in which she’s been deployed and loves baking for her local community the most.

Portraits and Podcast by Lindsay Linton Buk, Women in Wyoming. © 2019, All Rights Reserved.

Sep 29 2019

40mins

Play

Elizabeth Fernandez | Executive and Artistic Director of RMSA and RMDT

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Dancer, teacher, and choreographer Elizabeth Fernandez creates a space for performing artists in Cody, Wyoming as the Executive and Artistic Director of Rocky Mountain School of the Arts (RMSA) and Rocky Mountain Dance Theatre (RMDT). After graduating with honors from the University of Northern Colorado in Dance Teaching/Movement Analysis and Dance Kinesiology, Elizabeth moved home to open her own dance school and performing arts company. Under her direction, RMSA and RMDT train students of all ages in the arts of dance and theatre, focusing on building dancers with strong foundations in the technical and performance aspects of ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, and musical theatre. In addition to teaching full-time, Elizabeth creates and choreographs; projects include The Nutcracker Ballet and an original musical, the Wild West Spectacular, which is about Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. She is a lifelong learner and certified at the highest level through the Russian American Foundation’s Bolshoi Ballet Academy. Through her work cultivating opportunity for young people in the performing arts, she inspires young dancers and actors to strive for excellence in technique, self-discipline, self-confidence, individuality, and artistic expression, while promoting the performing arts as a vital force of reflection and perspective in Wyoming.

Portraits and Podcast by Lindsay Linton Buk, Women in Wyoming. © 2019, All Rights Reserved.

Sep 29 2019

30mins

Play

Hillary Walrath | Wildlife biologist and founder of the Seedskadee Women’s Fly Fishing Float

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Hillary Walrath grew up on a remote ranger station in northern Idaho where the Lochsa River flowed through her backyard. That experience instilled an intrinsic connection to water, wild places, and rivers, which have remained a constant presence in her life, and which she has translated into her career. As a Wildlife Biologist and Outreach Coordinator for Trout Unlimited, Hillary’s mission is to find creative, smart solutions that work for both wildlife and landowners. With increasing populations, pressures on natural resources, and the value of water in the West, creative problem solving is called for on a daily basis. She’s also an avid outdoorswoman and founder of the Seedskadee Women’s Fly Fishing Float, an annual fly fishing event that empowers women to get on the water and learn to fish. As a mother of two daughters, Hillary noticed she was often the only woman on the river; she created the float to inspire more women to feel confident getting outside with their families. Her goals with her recreational and conservation outreach efforts are to instill value and appreciation for Wyoming’s wild places and to inspire more people to utilize public lands so they care about the preservation of land for future generations.

Portraits and Podcast by Lindsay Linton Buk, Women in Wyoming. © 2019, All Rights Reserved.

Sep 29 2019

24mins

Play

Jill Winger | Online homestead mentor and author of The Prairie Homestead Cookbook

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Jill Winger’s homesteading evolution began when she and her husband Christian bought a 67-acre, tumbledown property outside of Chugwater, Wyoming. Flooded with an overwhelming rush of inspiration on how she could make their land sustainable, they started a compost pile, bought a few chickens, and began delving into the homesteading lifestyle. In 2010, Jill launched her official brand, The Prairie Homestead, which started as an online blog to share what she was learning with other like-minded souls. Today, Jill has grown her brand into a global platform with tens of thousands of followers who want to live more intentional lives. She recently debuted her cookbook in partnership with Macmillian Publishers; it quickly became an Amazon best seller. Self-described as “old-fashioned on purpose,” Jill’s philosophy to return to the land is not to be trendy but because it brings her a great sense of peace and joy. An entrepreneur and influencer, Jill loves empowering others to incorporate rural arts and skills into their lives, no matter where they live, and reap the physical and mental health benefits that can result from living more simply.

Portraits and Podcast by Lindsay Linton Buk, Women in Wyoming. © 2019, All Rights Reserved.

Sep 28 2019

27mins

Play

What's Ahead... Chpt IV: Rising, a preview of Chpt V: The Cowgirl State & the Women in WY exhibit

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What's Ahead ... Chapter IV: Rising, exploring themes of creativity, imagination, and leadership, a preview of the fifth and final chapter, Chapter V: The Cowgirl State, addressing evolution and owning it, as well as the multimedia Women in Wyoming exhibit at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
Image credit: “The Awakening: Lady Liberty stands astride the states that had adopted suffrage. She holds aloft her torch, bringing enlightenment to women in those states still in the dark. The faces of these women are turned up to the light, and some reach out in hope.” Puck Magazine, February 20, 1915. Illustrator: Mayer, Henry. From the Persuasive Maps: PJ Mode Collection, Cornell University. ID Number: 1176.01.

Aug 29 2019

1min

Play

Aura Newlin | Wyoming anthropologist and educator on the Japanese American incarceration of WWII

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Aura Newlin is an anthropologist, educator, advocate and public speaker whose Wyoming roots run deep. A 4th-generation, Japanese American Wyomingite, Aura grew up in Riverton, Wyoming. Her parents, former peace-corps volunteers, exposed Aura and her siblings to a broader world through international volunteer work. This global imprint influenced Aura’s interest in learning about other cultures and led her to become an anthropologist. “Anthropology turns everything on its head. As anthropologists, we try to understand what it might be like to live in someone else’s shoes, to understand what their experiences are like through their eyes.” Aura loves sharing the world with her students by introducing them to anthropology and the practice of “questioning whether something is normal and natural or if that’s just seemingly normal and natural because that’s the way you were raised.”

Aura landed her dream job teaching anthropology and sociology at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, a mere 15 miles from the Heart Mountain confinement site. After Pearl Harbor, up to 14,000 Japanese American immigrants and their children were incarcerated at Heart Mountain, one of ten confinement sites established by the War Relocation Authority during WWII. Her great-grandfather made his career as a railroader in southern Wyoming, but by WWII had moved to Hollywood, California for health reasons. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, effectively placing approximately 120,000 Japanese immigrants and their American-born children in war-time camps, Aura’s great-grandfather was sent back to Wyoming, this time to Heart Mountain. Aura’s grandfather, living and working for the Union Pacific railroad in Green River, Wyoming at this same time, was fired along with all the other employees of Japanese ancestry. Later, her grandfather was offered his job back, but he declined.

For Aura, working as an educator in such close proximity to her relatives’ experience at Heart Mountain “feels like destiny.” In addition to teaching her students, she speaks around the state and to legal audiences around the country about what happened at Heart Mountain and the Japanese American incarceration.

Reflecting on why she continues to educate her students and speak to various audiences, she says, “We need to embrace the bad along with the good, because it’s part of what makes us who we are. I don’t see Heart Mountain as something that belongs to Japanese American history. It is American history, and it is Wyoming history. As I go around the state talking with different communities about this, I hope to instill some of that passion and hope that I feel about this history. I would like to continue to have a voice at the national level and to be heard because we have an important story that needs to be told, and I like telling it.”

Mar 08 2019

25mins

Play

Rita Watson | The longest serving employee at the Wyoming Department of Education

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Rita Watson grew up during the Jim Crow segregated south in Durham, North Carolina. She was the first black person to work at Woolworth’s Five and Dime store in Durham and continued to advance in her career as the climate improved for African Americans in the United States. In 1965, Rita moved from the south to the rural West after her husband was transferred to F.E. Warren Airforce Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The first time she and her husband drove into Cheyenne, she asked him to show her downtown. “This is it!” he proclaimed. Certain they would only stay for a couple of years, Rita began her tenure with the state of Wyoming and became active in the community. Cheyenne’s been home for Rita and her family for over half a decade.

Rita began her employment with the state of Wyoming in November 1969 in the Department of Health, Vital Records Services, then transferred to the Department of Education in 1974. Since then, Rita has been the most constant presence within the Wyoming Department of Education, assisting the past eight Wyoming Superintendents of Education, beginning with Dr. Robert Shrader in 1974. From there, Rita worked with Lynn Simons from 1979 to 1991, Diana J. Ohman from 1991 to 1995, Judy Catchpole from 1995 to 2003, Dr. Trent Blankeship from 2003 to 2005, Dr. Jim McBride from 2005 to 2011, Cindy Hill from 2011 to 2014 and current Wyoming Superintendent of Education, Jillian Balow, since 2014. Rita also worked for two interim superintendents between the years 2011 and 2014: Dr. Jim Rose and Richard Crandall.

Rita, quite simply, loves her job; she loves to make a difference in education and in the lives of others. Rita is also active in the community, volunteering and organizing many charitable causes. She’s a founding member of the Love & Charity Club, most well-known for organizing the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march in Cheyenne since 1982.

When I asked Rita about wanting to make it a few more years at the Department of Education (Rita is almost 80), she adamantly proclaimed, “At least! I love what I do. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do. . . other than work!”

Mar 08 2019

17mins

Play

Wyoming Latina Youth Conference | A leadership program centered around “The Power of Choice”

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A two-day creativity, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics), and leadership conference, the mission of the Wyoming Latina Youth Conference (WLYC) is to raise the aspiring wealth of Wyoming Latinas ages 5-12th grade through mentoring, education and awareness. Attendees hear from a successful, nationally renowned keynote speaker and participate in various workshops held at the University of Wyoming. The conference encourages attendees to own their ambition and to gain the confidence to better themselves and their lives.

“I believe that we can defy the odds and go against the statistics. We are exposing young Latinas to all aspects of achieving aspiring wealth. It’s about confidence, self-esteem and fostering an attitude of ‘I CAN DO IT!’ It’s giving these girls the skills and ability to think beyond their urgent needs of everyday living.” -Dr. Cecelia Aragon, Executive Director of the Wyoming Latina Youth Conference.

In addition to building confidence and leadership skills, WLYC also places a major emphasis on wellness. From developing healthy relationships to managing one’s nutrition and mental well-being, WLYC takes a complete approach to successful life-building. Additionally, the conference is a fun and energizing event, where Latina girls from every corner of the state get to connect with each other and forge new friendships.  

In this multi-subject interview, I met with several attendees and alumnae, as well as founder Ann Esquibal Redman to learn about their collective hopes, dreams and philosophy towards the conference’s theme, “The Power of Choice.”

Mar 05 2019

24mins

Play

Mickey Thoman | Ranching matriarch of the W&M Thoman Ranch

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A cowgirl, mentor and genuine leader, Mickey Thoman epitomizes the true grit that defines the spirit of the American West. A living legend and ranch matriarch, Mickey and her three daughters operate the W&M Thoman Ranch, a fifth-generation family ranching business in Sweetwater County, Wyoming. The Thoman women raise fine-wool Rambouillet sheep, a uniform herd of Hereford cattle, and spirited Thoroughbred-Quarter horses. Throughout personal and business hardships, Mickey and her family have remained relevant in the ever changing and ever challenging world of agriculture with a spirit of tenacity and togetherness. Over the years, Mickey has lost her husband and ranching partner, Bill Thoman, as well as two of her seven children. When asked if she would give up her operation after her husband passed, she said, “Why would I sell it? This has been my whole life. I’m still here, and I’m still enjoying it. I think that’s what he would have wanted.“

Mickey is one of the 33 founding members of the Green River Valley Cowbelles. She has also been a member of the Wyoming Stockgrower’s Association Board of Directors and Guardians of the Grasslands. She’s been an integral part of 4-H and a continuous 4-H key leader for half a century, with nearly 60 years of service and dedicated leader awards. Mickey was inducted into the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2018.

I learned about Mickey’s deep love for her family, animals and the land she’s called home her entire life when I joined Mickey and her family at their sheep camp at the base of the Wind River Mountains and on their homestead by the Green River in the fall of 2018.

Mar 05 2019

18mins

Play

Climb Wyoming | A statewide nonprofit helping low income single moms discover self-sufficiency

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Single mothers and their children experience the highest rates of poverty among families in Wyoming. Climb Wyoming is a statewide non-profit helping to alleviate poverty by providing free job training, life skill development, mental health counseling and guaranteed job placement to low-income, single mothers living in six communities around the state of Wyoming.

In 1986, Climb’s founder and Executive Director, Dr. Ray Fleming Dinneen, and her mother, a widely sought-after psychologist and consulting forensic expert, were approached by the federal government to develop job training programs for populations most at risk for living in poverty. Speaking about her mother, Dr. Ray recalls, “So much of my mom was working with those who didn’t have a sense of themselves. She had so much hope for everyone and could see the potential in everyone.” Together, they began building Climb’s transformative model to recognize and unlock the potential of Wyoming single mothers.

Climb’s model is immersive, intense and demands the full attention of participants and staff. Programming takes place over a three-month period with groups of ten moms at a time. The basis of Climb’s programming is career training and placement, but there’s more to permanent life change than getting a job. Climb accomplishes long-term self-sufficiency through life skill training and mental health counseling through group and 1:1 sessions.

Poverty is cyclical and passed down from one generation to the next. Over the 30+ years of Climb’s evolution, they’ve developed one of the nation’s most successful models for moving families out of poverty and have supported more than 2,000 women and their families. The result is a collective force of empowered, self-sufficient women who are confident, upwardly mobile and have created a better life for themselves and their children.

In this multi-subject profile, I talk with Climb’s founder, Dr. Ray Fleming Dinneen, Climb’s leadership staff and the incredible moms who share their journeys of self-sufficiency and vulnerability as a pathway to living more courageously.

Mar 05 2019

20mins

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Lori Olson | Backcountry pilot and rural airstrip advocate

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Backcountry pilot and rural airstrip advocate Lori Olson came from a flying family in Upton, Wyoming. Her father was a navigator in WWII and later, used his plane as a means to transport Lori and her siblings across the state. Growing up, Lori was afraid to fly, but after moving back to Upton with her husband and twin daughters, the urge to fly became so strong she couldn't ignore it. She took a discovery course flight and was hooked. In the five short years that Lori has pursued her dream to fly, she's become the director of the Upton Municipal airport, and leads a statewide task force to save rural airstrips around the state. A commercial pilot, Lori prefers to land in the backcountry versus on pavement. 

During our interview, Lori and I talk about her dream to fly and how her world has changed from following her heart and pursuing her dream.

Jul 08 2018

20mins

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Megan Grassell | Founder & CEO of Yellowberry

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Megan Grassell is a teen founder and the CEO of Yellowberry- a bra, underwear, activewear and loungewear company for girls ages 8-14. Megan grew up in Pinedale, Wyoming and later in Jackson as a competitive ski racer. She founded Yellowberry when she was 17 years old after discovering the only option for her younger sister's first bra was a leopard print push-up or a sports bra. Determined to create a non-sexualized, stylish first bra option for young girls, Megan launched Yellowberry to national acclaim. At 22, Megan's partnered with American Eagle, has been featured on Good Morning America and the Today Show, and been named to Time's 25 Most Influential Teens, Yahoo's 24 Millennials to Watch and Forbes 30 Under 30 lists.

During our interview, Megan and I talk about how growing up in Wyoming influenced her entrepreneurial journey, her mission to become the brand that girls grow up with, and her passion to help other girls realize their ambition and own their unique strengths and talents.

Jul 03 2018

20mins

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Dr. Diane Noton | Rural medicine practitioner and emergency room physician

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Dr. Diane Noton has dedicated her life to serving small towns in Wyoming. First, as a family medicine physician in Saratoga, Wyoming and later in Meeteestse, Wyoming. Most recently, Dr. Diane has served rural Wyoming as an emergency room physician in Worland, Wyoming. After years in private practice, she found she loves the structured timeframe of emergency room medicine, while still retaining autonomy and a high-intense pace that rural medicine demands.

During our interview, Dr. Diane and I talk about when she knew she wanted to become a doctor, realizing her dream to serve small towns in Wyoming, and her personal journey to find more balance between work and life.

Jun 04 2018

26mins

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Lynette St. Clair | Shoshone linguist & cultural preservationist

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Lynette St. Clair grew up in Ft. Washakie, Wyoming on the Wind River Reservation. A linguist, cultural preservationist, former educator and education consultant, Lynette is passionate about preserving and sharing the Shoshone language with the next generation and with the world. Lynette was awarded the National Johnson O'Malley Teacher of the Year distinction in 2015 for her implementation of technology to enhance language instruction to the children of the Wind River Reservation. She's been involved with statewide standards initiatives to address how the contributions of American Indians are taught in Wyoming classrooms, representing an authentic voice for indigenous people in the re-writing of history. Lynette's cultural projects include Shoshone Bingo, Art for the Sky, HOPA Mountain Cultural Exchange and Five Buffalo Days.

During our interview, Lynette and I talk about her journey to becoming an educator and program consultant, as well as her mission to preserve and implement Shoshone language and culture as a means to instill pride and sense of self within the next generation on the Wind River Reservation.

Jun 04 2018

26mins

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Rev. Bernadine Craft | Episcopal priest, former state senator & community steward

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Rev. Bernadine Craft is an Episcopal priest, former state representative, psychotherapist, and the Executive Director of Sweetwater BOCES in her hometown of Rock Springs, Wyoming. In her multiple community service roles, Bernadine's primary concern is being a voice for the voiceless. As a state senator and representative, having served in both Wyoming's House and Senate, Bernadine pushed forward legislation concerned with human services issues, including domestic violence, animal abuse, and advocating for the rights of children, the elderly and disabled. As a priest, Bernadine's faith belief is open, inclusive and pledges to respect the dignity and worth of every human being.

During our interview, Bernadine and I talk about her journey home to Rock Springs, the importance of being open to change and life's possibilities, and her passion for representing underserved voices in her community and across the state.

Jun 04 2018

22mins

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Behind-the-Scenes with WW Project Director/Photographer Lindsay Linton Buk

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A behind-the-scenes interview about the Women in Wyoming series featuring Project Director/Photographer Lindsay Linton Buk by Isa Jones, Entertainment Editor with the Jackson Hole News & Guide. Learn about why Lindsay created the Women in Wyoming series and what's next for Chapter 2.

Apr 24 2018

22mins

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Nina McConigley | Award-winning author & professor

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Nina McConigley is an accomplished author whose work tells a less common story of Wyoming- one of identity, race and the immigrant experience in the rural West. Nina's first book, Cowboys and East Indians, won the prestigious Pen Open Book Award in 2014, as well as the High Plains Book award and made Oprah’s List. Nina tells me what it was like growing up in Wyoming as a woman of color, her creative process and her upcoming novel.

Podcast by Linton Productions.

Oct 03 2017

29mins

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Great podcast about the Equality State

By Pharrin2 - Oct 18 2017
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MUST LISTEN! This a wonderful and entertaining podcast about the women who make Wyoming, Wyoming. Look no farther than this for interesting perspectives on the coolest square state.