News and Events

Happy 90th Birthday, Raymond!

Photos from UcrossNearly 300 people gathered in Ucross, Wyoming, Population 25, on April 28, 2012, for a celebration we'll all remember for a long time. The day's festivities took place in honor of Ucross Founder and Chairman Raymond Plank's 90th Birthday (in advance of the actual May 29 date), Arbor Day weekend, the publication of Raymond's memoir A Small Difference, and the new Raymond Plank Library and Center for Land Stewardship, which is nearing completion.

Guests came from all over the United States – California, Texas, Montana, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, Louisiana, Connecticut, Florida, Arizona, New York, and of course Wyoming – as well as from London, England, British Columbia, and Ontario.

It was a typical Wyoming spring day – snow in the morning, followed by freezing rain and high winds – but good spirits kept everyone warm. Ucross Foundation President Sharon Dynak welcomed guests, and Mike Plank, who has overseen the construction or renovation of every Foundation building for over 30 years, spoke about the adventures of building the Raymond Plank Library in 7 ½ months. (Mike is truly an artist at heart!) Ucross Trustee Mark Gordon gave a talk about land stewardship and its significant place in the Foundation's overall vision and accomplishments. Finally, Raymond Plank took the microphone and personally thanked over 50 of the guests, reminiscing about how their own lives had made a difference to him, and to the world.

Among the many congratulations that day, we received this message from Matt Harris, President of the Arbor Day Foundation: "You should be very proud of the work you are doing to inspire others. From tree planting to your work with artists at Ucross, you are truly making a difference. Keep up the good work, and have an excellent Arbor Day!"

bookJacket-small.jpgDuring the afternoon, Raymond autographed several hundred copies of his book and posed for photographs with old friends, colleagues and family members. Guests enjoyed refreshments prepared by Ucross chef Cindy Brooks, and Ruth Salvatore baked and decorated a birthday cake with a replica of the new Park at Ucross, complete with the Ucross Chapel, Raymond Plank Library and figures of tree planters.

All in all, it was a day of inspiration, reflection, and revelry – and we salute Raymond Plank as he takes his place in the world as an author, at age 90. Thank you, Raymond – you have made a very big difference to all of us!

Many people came together with generosity and enthusiasm to make the event a success. We couldn't have done it without the help of numerous volunteers, including Ucross board members Eileen Donahue, Mike Hammer and his wife Francesca, and Jesse Marion, our newest Trustee. Artist Rhona Bitner donated her time to design the event invitation. Additional volunteers included Karen Webb (Executive Director of the Fund for Teachers), Deborah Isaacks Koehler, Robin Smith, Lynn Latham, Brian Bond, Sheryl Chard, Martin Lunde, Gordon McConnell and Karen O'Donnell. Other Ucross board members in attendance were Charlie Hart, Jim Nelson, Terry Johansen and Paul Zecchi. Every member of the Ucross Foundation staff participated in the day's effort – Liza Birnbaum, Sue Bond, Cindy Brooks, Sharon Dynak, Marty Jelly, Mike Latham, Carol Melver, Jeanette Roush, Ruth Salvatore, Allen Smith, Brenda Stark, and Melissa Stevens. A team effort extraordinaire!

The Raymond Plank Library and Center for Land Stewardship is a work-in-progress. It will gather together archives and memorabilia from Raymond's life, including the history of Apache Corporation and Ucross Foundation, Ucross ranch history, information on holistic resource management, art work, and, of course, many books, both those Raymond has read throughout his life and those written by Ucross writers-in-residence.

Copies of A Small Difference by Raymond Plank are available by contacting the Ucross Foundation office at (307) 737-2291 or email,

Books can also be purchased through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Proceeds from book sales will benefit Ucross Foundation.