WSSP Toured the Islands at the 2021 Annual Convention

Submitted by Carmen Barkley


Farmers may like their alone time out away from people, but even we need to get together occasionally to connect with friends and share stories. With COVID cancelling the 2020 annual convention, we were more than ready to get together and talk about sheep – and the 2021 convention on San Juan Island did not disappoint! Even with the ferry system on the fritz, everyone made it to the Earthbox Inn by Friday morning for a day full of updates on all the happenings in the sheep industry as a whole and here in Washington state. We heard from our president, Dr. Jill Swannack about what she’s been seeing on her farm and in her vet practice – this year a major issue across eastern Washington was Bluetongue making rams temporarily infertile, interfering with breeding schedules and plans for lambing. We also learned what’s going on in ASI from Sarah Maki Smith, got a video update on the American Lamb Board, and heard from Dr. Nancy Irlbeck of WSU on current sheep-related research that is ongoing in the Animal Sciences Department. Cameron Lauwers of Superior Farms gave us a brief synopsis of what they are currently focusing on. After a delicious lunch of creamy squash soup, the WSDA Interim State Veterinarian, Dr. Amber Itle, gave a presentation on what the State Vet’s office does to help sheep farmers. She also focused on farm sanitation and techniques for keeping diseases out of our flocks. Saturday, our group enjoyed (mostly) beautiful weather as we visited some fun locations and farms across the island. We started at the Farmer’s Market, where we were able to find some great homemade baked goods, teas and salts from the islands, beautiful artwork, and much more! Next, we visited Amaro Farm, owned and operated by Lance and Rami Amaro. We got to see their ingenuity in action as they work to create an income through agritourism at their farm. They had a beautifully remodeled barn that had been transformed into an adorable farm shop, and their pastures were filled with cute Valais Blacknose sheep, which visitors can pay to feed and interact with. We also got the chance to see Lazy G Ranch, run by Rex and Lisa Guard, and hear about their long history farming on San Juan Island. They discussed the struggles they have faced over the years making farming work for their family and inspired us with their stories of resilience. The third farm we had the opportunity to tour was Aurora Farms, owned by artist and farmer Lori Ann David. She has a herd of purebred Katahdin sheep that she uses to produce organic meat as well as rejuvenate and maintain the soil. We also got to walk through the greenhouses on the farm where they grow a range of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and more. Finally, a last-minute addition to our tour was Oak Knoll Farm, run by Adam Greene and Sarah Pope. Everyone was impressed to see their beautiful group of North Country Cheviots up near the house that were (hopefully) bred with imported semen to improve their genetic

Industry Awards




1979    Al Rubenser                            Colfax

1980    George Hislop                         Yakima

1981    Ruth Herriford                        Olympia

1982    Ladd Mitchell                          Ephrata

1982    Sebastian Etulain                    Moses Lake

1983    Gerald  Richardson                 Moses Lake

1984    Mac McLean                           Four Lakes

1985    Vic Robert                              Sunnyside

1986     -0-

1987    Theo Caldwell                        Goldendale

1988    Chick Hubbard                       Moses Lake​

1989    - 0 -

1990    Ruth King                             Yakima

1991    Henrietta Pearson                  Mount Vernon

1992    Norman Gates                       WSU

1993    Roberta Hoctor                      Goldendale

1994    John Brewer                          Pullman

1995    Simon & Carol Martinez          Moxee

1996    Dick & Helen Appel                Endicott

1997    Fred & Timmie Blauert           Washtucna

1998    Treva Norris                          Springdale

1999    Loveta Boyce                         Moses Lake

2000    Joanne Dubigk                       Maple Valley

2001    Randy Baldree                       Colfax

2002    Nina Richardson                     Moses Lake

2003    Susan Parr                             Tacoma

2004    Jim Acuff                               Post Falls

2005    Andy Pille                              Espanola

2006    Al & Lin Schwider                   Maple Valley

2007    Art & Jill Swannack                 Lamont

2008    -0-

2009    Sam Hays                             Yakima

2010    Milt Russell                           Prosser

2011    Dave & Julie Dashiell             Hunters

2012    Linda & Jerry Kjack               Walla Walla

2013    -0-

2014    Sarah Smith                         Moses Lake

2015    Mike McWilliams                   Myrtle Point, OR

2016    Mark Martinez                       Moxee

2017    Jan Busboom                        Pullman

2018    Jami Beintema                      Ellensburg

2019    Ross Merker & Ann Roggenkamp 

sheep hook award 2019_edited.jpg

Ross Merker & Ann Roggenkamp