Recent Torrington High School graduates Quentin Meyer and Ryan Walson love Wyoming as it is. For our "Belonging" series, the childhood friends sat down to reflect on the agriculture and stories that pull them to stay while acknowledging the career possibilities that may draw their lives outside of the state they hold dear.
Quentin Myer: I wouldn't change a thing about Wyoming. I love it how it is.
Ryan Walson: Yeah, I, uh, love being able to walk outside, and I…all you…you can see for miles. There's hills, and, I mean, there's a lot of sagebrush, but every once in a while you come across some nice trees.
QM: Yeah, one of the things I always also admire is the open hayfields especially during the summer. You see the hay come, grow up and then they lay it down, and it's laid down, and you see it dry and you're like, "Oh, they've got to bail it soon." Then they bail it and the hay grows back up. I think that's cool watching that rotation, I guess you could say, of just, of growing crops and the farm and agriculture of this county.
RW: Yep. Have you ever been tempted to leave Wyoming?
QM: Yeah, yeah, and, you know, I kind of plan on doing that. Well, it's hard to say. You know, engineering, I'm going to start in Casper because one of my main goals in life is to come out of college completely debt free, and to do that, I did kind of use livestock judging as a way of paying for my college. So, I'll be livestock judging and doing engineering at Casper College, and then after that, I'm going to have find a University to finish at, whether that's UW or I also got an offer from Texas A&M. And finding an engineering job in Wyoming is going to be a lot harder than places like the metropolitan area like Denver. I mean, that would be a lot easier finding a civil engineering job or mechanical engineering job because there's so much more infrastructure and so much more building that's going on there. That's really what it comes down to for me. I would love to live in Wyoming when I'm older. I mean, that's my, kind of, my goal is to retire here and have a ranch with some sheep or cattle or something.
Have you been tempted to leave?
RW: Um, I have been a little bit because I'm going to school in Milford, Nebraska to become a John Deere tech, and, I mean, around here there are a lot of people that need tractors and stuff worked on. But you can leave and go to a bigger place or a bigger community and stuff, and you can find a job for more money, but it also does come down to - Where do you want to live? Where are you happy? - and stuff like. So, it's kind of up in the air, but definitely not moving anytime soon.
QM: Has there ever been a time that you felt like you didn't belong in Wyoming?
RW: I, honestly, don't think so. I mean, I've been here my whole life and just everything I do is pretty easy to do in Wyoming.
RW: Going out and shooting raccoons on canal roads and…
QM: [Laughing] Yep.
RW: …spotlighting coyotes and stuff like that.
QM: Yep, you can't do that in a big city. You can't go just driving on the canal roads, shooting raccoons in the middle of the night.
RW: Shoot a raccoon in town in New York, you're…
QM: Yeah, you're getting sent to jail.
RW: You're 5 feet from somebody else. [Laughing]
QM: Yeah, I gotta agree with you. I don't know if there's been a time I ever not felt like a belonged in Wyoming. It's, honestly, it's a pretty welcoming place, I think. And that might be because we were born here, and we know everybody, but at the same time, I feel like these are great people that are very welcoming. I can't count tell you the amount of times I've gone to a family branding or whatever, and we go help someone brand, and that's cool, that sense community, you know. I feel connected to that, connected to ag, connected to farming. I mean we're not huge into it, but it's still a part of my blood, a part of my family.
RW: Yeah, going and working for Dietzler Farms, going out on the ranch, and you're just fixing fence and looking, and all you see is hills and grass for miles, and it's just peaceful. It definitely clears the mind.
QM: Yeah, and you're lonely. It's only you and like your thoughts, and there's nobody else around you except for the cattle, and you can talk to him if you want. I mean, I've done that a few times.
RW: They ain't gonna make fun of you.
QM: Yeah, they ain't gonna make fun of you. They're not going to judge you. It's kind of a sense of you just being there by yourself. We have that freedom because who's going to tell you, "No," in the middle of nowhere.
RW: Yeah, Wyoming is definitely the type of place that, I mean, you can live a ways away and still have your peace and quiet and feel alone but with somebody, and you can still drive a little ways and still be able to go find the people and do the things you want in town.
QM: I think it's the balance between the two
QM: When you feel like you need to have some alone time, or you need to be with people. When you're out at the farm and you're by yourself, it makes those moments, like, with people in town even, like, sweeter, you know. You gotta love that kind of way life.
QM: I love just being a country folk. One of my most favorite things is the stories of old men and women too. I mean, old ranch women are some of the smartest people I know.
QM: Since we just graduated, and we know a lot of our classmates are not going to be sticking around here, why do you think that is?
RW: Yes, Torrington is kind of a ranch and farm community, but there are a lot of kids that are kind of wanting to move on to different things. They're just not farm and ranch type kids, and just like…even like you wanting to be a mechanical engineer. There's not really much place you can do that around here.
QM: No, yeah.
RW: So, I feel like, just for them, they find out what they want to do and, kind of, can't really stick around here.
RW: Yeah, Wyoming is definitely a place more for hunting outfits and ranches.