Discussions and Special Sessions
Following is a list of discussions and special sessions  that were held during the 2014 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 27-February 1, 2014.Be sure to check the daily schedule for more information on shows and sessions!

Discussions and special sessions for the 30th Gathering included: Celebrating Nevada's Sesquicentennial, Gathering the Next Generation, Horsemanship in the 21st Century, and Sustaining the Rural Ranching West.

Celebrating Nevada's Sesquicentennial

High Times in Nevada
Elko Convention Center, Turquoise Room
Thursday, January 30, 2:45pm - 4:00pm
From haying machinery to horse wrecks, Jon Griggs, Tom Tomera and Hank Volger have done it all—and have the bruises to prove it. Join these local northern Nevada ranchers and others for tales of wild times and silly antics.

Nevada Ranch Generations

Elko Convention Center, Turquoise Room
Saturday, February 1, 11:15am - 12:45pm
Some of the best stories are told when families sit down together. Join three local families for tales of the good, the bad and the funny on northern Nevada ranches. Mother and daughter Sharon Rhoads and Shammy Rodriguez, father and son Mitch and Joe Heguy, and grandfather and grandson Floyd and Ira Slagowski will share some family anecdotes and real-life experiences from rural Nevada.

Gathering the Next Generation

Back on the Ranch
Elko Convention Center, Gold Room
Friday, January 31, 1:00pm - 2:15pm
As the average age of ranches in the West creeps towards 60, rural communities are asking themselves how to attract a younger demographic to take up the mantle. But there are new factors that might make choosing the ranch life more attractive in the 21st century...In this session, we've invited young folks from around the West who have returned to the ranch, and they'll share stories about what brought them home and how they find balance between the challenges and charms of rural life.

Living the Hybrid Life
Elko Convention Center, Gold Room
Friday, January 31, 2:30pm - 3:45pm
Sustaining a ranch has always required great flexibility and a dizzying array of skills. For the next generation of ranchers, it isn't the hard work that is the biggest challenge—it's having the time and money to keep going. These young people find themselves pulled in multiple directions so they can sustain life on the land: Jay Whaley raises cattle, sheep and hay in Routt County, Colorado, and to make ends meet, he has spent 12 years as a 4-H Extension Agent and now teaches high school agriculture; Trinity Seely balances ranch work in rural Wyoming, raising four kids under 13, and a growing musical career that takes her away from home; Leslie Hunewill has one foot in the hospitality industry and the other in raising cows, as part of a multi-generational ranch family who run both a prestigious guest ranch and a significant cattle operation. Brenn Hill will lead a discussion with these passionate young ranchers about how they balance important but colliding priorities, and what it means to be a next generation hybrid rancher in the 21st century.

Being a Cowboy in a Digital Age
Elko Convention Center, Gold Room
Saturday, February 1, 2:30pm - 3:45pm
Young people living in rural communities understand the importance of a hard day's work, loving life outdoors and getting together at the kitchen table. But in between the brandings and the trips to town, they find and create community online too. How are these digital-age buckaroos balancing their internet experiences with life in the real world? How are they bringing their ranch reality to life in cyberspace? Join songwriter, blogger and rancher Jessie Veeder, poet and buckaroo Jessica Hedges and other young ranchers to hear how our next generation uses digital media to express what is meaningful to them in rural life.

Horsemanship in the 21st Century

True Unity: The Legacy of the Dorrance Brothers
Western Folklife Center, G Three Bar Theater
Friday, January 31, 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Tom and Bill Dorrance ignited a revolution in the way we handle and train horses in the American West. Raised on a ranch in northeastern Oregon, the brothers taught themselves how to start and work horses. But the approach they eventually adopted was different, and it grew out of their desire to "get along" with the horse—to create a willing partner, rather than dominate and subdue. Lucky for us and for our horses, the Dorrances shared their horsemanship skills, fundamentally changing how we train horses and forever altering our relationship with them. The participants in this panel discussion are all former students of Tom and Bill. They will swap stories of these great teachers, and shed light on their legacy to us and to our equine companions. Read about the panelists.

Sustaining the Rural Ranching West

Balancing Ranching & Natural Resources
Elko Convention Center, Turquoise Room
Thursday, January 30, 1:15pm - 2:30pm
North American cattle ranchers strive to be good stewards of the land and natural resources that are their livelihood. In the contemporary West, they are finding this increasingly challenging when faced with severe drought, scarce resources, and shifting cultural and economic pressures. Nevertheless, ranchers are expected to continue to expand their stewardship, protecting the resources for everyone. In this session, cowboy and conservationist Kent Reeves will talk with innovative multi-generational ranchers Sofia Marquez and Joe Morris about how they are finding balance between traditional methods and new ideas, so they can be both good stewards of the natural environment and keep the ranch running. These conversations will be punctuated by short performances from Paul Zarzyski, Trinity Seely, Ross Knox, Dave Stamey and Vess Quinlan, highlighting the thread of conservation that runs throughout cowboy poetry and song. Read about the panelists.

Food Production and the WestFREE!
Elko Convention Center, Turquoise Room
Saturday, February 1, 1:00pm - 2:30 pm
The West has a unique culture of hardy and adaptable food producers who understand that underpinning it all is grass, soil and water. As the world population increases, agriculturalists will be expected to feed an additional two billion people in the next 40 years. As such, we all face the daunting task of keeping the planet within its carrying capacity—a notion very familiar to western ranchers. As people with deep experience adapting to harsh conditions and demanding environments, rural westerners are uniquely suited to meet this challenge to produce food in a renewable way: sustainably-managed grazing, efficient irrigation, and use of public grazing lands will play a huge part in meeting this goal. Moderated by Patrick and Sharon O'Toole, this roundtable discussion will address key issues.
Read about the moderators.
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See photos from prior Gatherings in our Photo Gallery.

Watch Gathering Moments on Film, short and casual "guerrilla" videos from prior Gatherings.

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1864 - 2014