SHERIDAN — The Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee, a subcommittee under the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce, is encouraging more community participation in the upcoming year.

The committee, which promotes and supports businesses in the sectors of agriculture, natural resources and public lands, is described by Khale Century Reno — chair for the subcommittee and the executive director for Wyoming Wilderness Association — as a rising star for Sheridan County that continues to have a commendable and consistent performance on a statewide level for several years. Despite supporting Wyoming’s three largest economies as one of the longest standing committees in the Chamber of Commerce, it is one of the few subcommittees in the state to focus specifically on these sectors, Reno said.

The committee gives an opportunity for the businesses to grow at roundtable talks held at the end of the Chamber of Commerce’s monthly meetings and open conversations with the community.

In 2020, the committee started Lunchtime Conversations, holding only two events and attracting 155 participants before organizers shuttered the doors following COVID restrictions. While the event was put on hold, the Chamber of Commerce flourished in reaching out to local businesses and maintaining a retention rate of more than 90%, one of the highest in the state, according to statistics provided at the annual membership event Wednesday.

Lunchtime Conversations, which are open to the public, are being given new life in February. The first conversation will discuss private working lands and public lands. According to the Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming has 18 million acres of wide-open land and viewing vistas with an additional 43 million acres of federal mineral estate

“This conversation will focus on how open spaces are important to the community and culture, especially as we go through changes as a community,” Reno said.

Following 2020, people are needing to connect and meet their neighbors, new or old, Reno said. Conversations are one way the community stays involved and informed about state and local news.

There will be five panelists at the event to jumpstart and guide the community conversation.

The following conversation in March will focus on outdoor recreation, that according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, ranked Wyoming fourth out of 50 states for its share of the economy driven by this sector.

“It’s good to have a variety of viewpoints from different types of people who use the mountain differently,” Karen Myers, the administrative and finance director at the Chamber of Commerce and liaison for the Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee, said.

Reno said more information for upcoming conversations is being worked on and will be available on the Chamber of Commerce’s website and flyers throughout Sheridan.

Reno and Myers said the best way to support the committee’s initiatives is to participate.

“Come be engaged. Come to our meetings. Come discuss,” Reno said.

Lunchtime Conversations will be held at Luminous Brewhouse, 504 Broadway St., Feb. 22 at noon. Additional information can be found at sheridanwyomingchamber.org.

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