Category Archives: Schools

A Final Roundup of the ‘Rowdy Randy’ Statewide Tour

Woman in Western garb in a library holding a picture book up to a group of students. A woman dressed as the Rowdy Randy character is to her left.
Casey Rislov and Rowdy Randy at Woods Elementary in Casper. (Read more about this visit.)

It may not have been a world tour, but Casey Rislov covered Wyoming pretty well sharing her book, Rowdy Randy, with elementary school students. The Wyoming State Library supported her school visits with Library Services and Technology Act funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

All told, Casey appeared at 22 different schools in 16 communities, from some of Wyoming’s smallest places to the largest cities. Her travels took her to Laramie, Rock River, Cheyenne, Chugwater, Newcastle, Basin, Powell, Lovell, Cody, Ranchester, Big Horn, Sheridan, Casper, Glenrock, Shoshoni, and Pavillion. At some schools, she brought a special guest — an actress dressed as Rowdy Randy herself! (Paradise Valley Elementary students couldn’t get enough of Rowdy Randy after the event with lots of hugs and attention.)

Woman in Western garb seated with a group of students holding up books.
Chugwater School was one of the smallest schools Casey visited. She had enough book donations that all 40 K-6 students received a book.

“I was quite thankful for this opportunity to tour our great state with Rowdy Randy and meet so many amazing librarians and their schools,” Casey said. “The librarians were wonderful at hosting and communicating and the children were excited to join the western book fun!”

About 5,000 K-6 students enjoyed Casey’s presentations and gave her their rapt attention as she read from the book and interacted with them. She distributed about 1,100 free copies of Rowdy Randy to teachers, librarians, and students. Many were funded by the WSL with federal funds — the rest she was able to provide through numerous private donations.

Not to mention, she covered nearly 4,000 miles traversing the state!

Woman in Western garb reading to students who have backs to camera.
In the library at Crest Hill Elementary in Casper.

Librarians overall went above and beyond to make the visits great. Many had large screens to place the book on for large groups to see. Here are a few of the stories Casey shared with us from her travels:

“Lovell Elem. invited my Rowdy Randy actress and I to a last day of snow cones with the kindergartners. Then the librarian, Gwen Walker, sent us on our way to see the wild horses and Big Horn Canyon near their area. It was a gorgeous spot to visit!”

She had her first auditorium experience in Glenrock Intermediate, and then Big Horn Elementary in Big Horn and Prairie Wind Elementary in Cheyenne. “It was incredible to experience this setup. All of them had large screens for the book, microphones, and plenty of stage room to move. Michelle Juschka-Faris at Prairie Wind was ready to go in her Western gear too as she is a real cowgirl.”

Woman in Western garb reading to students in gymnasium
Gymnasiums, like this one at Casper’s Paradise Valley Elementary, gave Casey and Rowdy Randy more room to move around.

Visits to gymnasiums also let her see many children at once and allowed for movement. “It was fun to move around in my Western get up and get western with the children helping to shout ‘Yeehaw!’”

Students were proud of their mascots. The Paradise Valley Tigers showed “fun and fierce” spirit. The Beitel Elementary students gave her stickers and and a big thank you with their mascot on it. It was one of many such notes.

“SO many handwritten notes!” Casey said. “I read each and every one of them. I was extra thankful that the students enjoyed these author visits.”

Woman in Western garb in a library reading picture book to students. One boy is raising his hand.
Visiting Wind River Elementary in Pavillion.

Federal funds through the Institute of Museum and Library Services fund many great projects and services that benefit residents of Wyoming. Learn more on our website.

Private donations for books that were distributed came from Walsh Drive Self Storage & Interstate Storage Solutions (Brendan & Brian Bummer); Farnham’s Furniture; Fox Ventures LLC, Fox Investments LLC (Cory Fox); Pro-Kote Engineering & Supply (Steve Holt); Rocky and Lisa Eades; Waves Web Design (Anthony Marcil and Summer Henderson); Big O Tires; Galles Greenhouse; East Casper Chiropractic; Farmers Insurance; Hilltop National Bank; R & R Rest Stops; Waves Web Design; and Casper Sinclair.

TeachingBooks Access to End This Year on September 30

The Wyoming State Library’s contract with TeachingBooks will end on September 30, 2022.

The WSL was able to purchase TeachingBooks/BookConnections for statewide access with one-time ARPA funds in 2021. It is a popular resource, and the state library reached out to potential partners to help shoulder the future cost without success. For now, without the funds needed to renew the contract, Wyoming users will have to say goodbye to this unique and robust literature database.

Constitution Day Poster Contest for K-12 Students

Student poster includes images of Constitution, Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, and red, white, and blue eagle.
2021 Grand Prize poster by Mengyang Pan, 10th Grade.

K-12 students (including homeschoolers) are invited to celebrate Constitution Day on September 17, 2022, by designing a poster showing how they benefit from the freedoms embodied in the U.S. Constitution.

The American Library Association’s (ALA) Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT), Government Information for Children (GIC) Committee and are national sponsors of the Fourteenth Annual U.S. Constitution Day Poster Contest for students. Prizes will be awarded for each grade. Each grade winner will receive a Constitution commemorative coin with the grand prize winner also receiving a $100 cash prize.

Entries must be postmarked by October 1, 2022.

  • Download the poster rules/deadlines.
  • View the GIC Committee’s Constitution Day LibGuide.

2021-22 Wyoming School Library Statistics Released

Smiling schoolgirl standing in bookshelves corner holding a book
Student at Woods Learning Center on Wyoming Snapshot Day 2021.

The numbers are in: the results of the Wyoming School Library Survey 2021-22 have been released and may be found on the Wyoming State Library statistics page.

The Wyoming State Library conducts a voluntary survey of school libraries to collect basic information on staffing, budgets, student use of the library, and other measures. A large body of research has shown that a strong school library program — with sufficient staffing, collections, and budget — is associated with higher student test scores.

Typically the Wyoming School Library Survey is conducted annually. Due to the pandemic, it was not conducted for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years. In addition, school library services changed during the COVID health emergency. For example, students were provided with laptops for distance education. Because of this, some of the data may be drastically different from prior years.

Questions about the survey, or about other school library issues, may be directed to Paige Bredenkamp, WSL School Library Consultant, at or (307) 777-6331.

Wyoming Book Awards Nominees Announced for 2022-23

The Wyoming Library Association’s three book awards committees have announced the nominees for 2022-23. Three book awards are given: the Soaring Eagle (grades 7-12), Indian Paintbrush (grades 4-6), and Buckaroo (grades K-3). These provide an opportunity for the youth of Wyoming to read and select favorite books and to honor the authors of those books.

Learn more and find links to materials for participation on the Wyoming Book Awards page.

The Soaring Eagle Committee is pleased to announce the nominated titles for 2022-2023. Stay tuned for additional resources, but here is the list.

Soaring Eagle logoSoaring Eagle Nominees

  • You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
  • Gone to the Woods by Gary Paulsen
  • I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
  • Blade of Secrets by Tricia Levenseller
  • Paul, Big and Small by David Glen Robb
  • Hold Back the Tide by Melinda Salisbury
  • You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen McManus
  • Me (Moth) by Amber McBride
  • Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer
  • The Similars by Rebecca Hanover

Indian Paintbrush logoIndian Paintbrush Nominees

  • Ban This Book by Alan Gratz
  • The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo
  • Efren Divided by Ernesto Cisneros
  • History Smashers: Mayflower by Kate Messner
  • Linked by Gordon Korman
  • My Life as a Potato by Arianne Costner
  • Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker
  • Starfish by Lisa Fipps
  • Switched by Bruce Hale
  • When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson/Omar Mohamed

Buckaroo logoBuckaroo Award Nominees

  • Dear Librarian by Lydia Sigwarth
  • Dragonboy by Fabio Napoleoni
  • Encounter by Brittany Luby
  • Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex
  • King of the Birds by Elisa Gravel
  • A Little Bit Brave by Nicola Kinnear
  • The Sequoia Lives On by Joanna Cooke
  • Snail Crossing by Corey Tabor
  • Sorry (Really Sorry) by Joanna Colter
  • This Way, Charlie by Caron Levis

Wyoming Humanities Names 2022 Letters About Literature Winners

The Wyoming Center for the Book, now operating under the Wyoming Humanities umbrella, announced this year’s winners of the annual Letters About Literature contest for the state’s youth.

In this program, students in grades 4-12 are invited to read, be inspired, and write back to the author (living or dead) of a book that changed their lives. More than 260 students from across Wyoming participated in this year’s event.

This year’s winners and their chosen books are:

Grades 4-6

  • 1st Place: Caroline Childers, Lander – “Out of My Mind” by Sharon Draper
  • 2nd Place: Arya Ghormley, Lander – “Keeper of the Lost Cities” by Shannon Messenger
  • 3rd Place: Charlotte Osborne, Lander – “Helpers” by Nate Long
  • Honorable Mention: Kimberly Weber, Lander – “Chains” by Laurie Halse Anderson

Grades 7-8

  • 1st Place: Kailee Grimes, Pinedale – “The Histories” by Herodotus
  • 2nd Place: Royce Hancock, Riverton – “All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome” by Kathy Hoopmann
  • 3rd Place: Evie Mushlock, Shell – “Refugee by Alan Gratz
  • Honorable Mention: Elsie Bott, Riverton – “Fablehaven” by Brandon Mull

Grades 9-12

  • 1st Place: Malorie Bender, Lander – “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” by Emily Danforth
  • 2nd Place: Parker Zoe Jackson, Laramie – “Throne of Glass” Series by Sarah Maas
  • 3rd Place: Ethan Cearlock, Powell – “The Stranger” by Albert Camus
  • Honorable Mention: Alexandra Tibbets, Green River – “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger

Winners received Amazon gift cards worth $150 for first place, $100 for second, and $50 for third.

For more information about Wyoming Humanities and its programs, visit Information about the Wyoming Center for the Book can be directed to Lucas Fralick at or 307.660.0729.

Wyoming Historical Society Seeks Nominations for Youth Awards

Teen girl working on homework with large stack of books on deskDo you know a young historian? A student in grades 3-12 who has done something in their school or community to add to Wyoming’s historical legacy?

The Wyoming State Historical Society and its federation of statewide chapters seeks nominations of students and teachers who have done outstanding work in preserving and interpreting Wyoming history during the last year.

Nomination postmark deadline is June 1. See the Awards Manual for details.

The Young Historian Category recognizes original projects by students in elementary, junior high and high school. Projects produced will be judged on new or previously unpublished information obtained through interviews or research or can be a creative presentation of previously known facts or information. Junior Activities Awards might include a student or group of students who have researched and explored an historic site in their county which may have led to the marking of a site. Students may have promoted educational activities that promote a better understanding of local and/or state history.

For specific information categories that honor students and/or educators, review the Awards Manual or contact Linda Fabian at to receive an electronic copy.

WLA Youth Services Interest Group Gathers in Buffalo

Group of people gathered on library steps
The YSIG meeting at the Johnson County Library drew a crowd eager to see each other’s faces after virtual meetings the last two years.

After two years of no face-to-face meetings, the Wyoming Library Association Youth Services Interest Group (YSIG) was finally able to get together in person. The YSIG Annual Spring Meeting was held in Buffalo, at the Johnson County Public Library on May 5-6, 2022. On Thursday evening, several youth services librarians met for dinner, catching up, and more than a few hugs.

Group of people standing in library
Johnson County Library Director Steve Rzasa giving the group a tour.

On May 6, 31 librarians from around Wyoming gathered for the Intellectual Freedom and Book Challenges roundtable. Sitting on the panel were Darcy Acord, Campbell County Public Library Youth Services Manager; Jennisen Lucas, District Librarian for Park County School District #6 and AASL President; and Conrrado Saldivar, Wyoming State Library Outreach and Development Librarian and WLA President. These three spoke of their experiences with recent book challenges and the organizations behind the challenges. It was an illuminating discussion and culminated with librarians sharing strategies for handling such challenges.

People at tables watching presenter with image of website on wall screen
Wyoming State Library Database Instruction Librarian Chris Van Burgh did training on resources.

There was also an update on the WLA partnership with EveryLibrary to work with Wyoming libraries on these issues. Following the roundtable was the interest group meeting. After lunch Chris Van Burgh, Wyoming State Library Database Instruction Librarian, provided training, then Janet Tharp (retired) did a session on storytelling. It was a fruitful meeting with everyone coming away not only with a better sense of the threats facing libraries but also with a better sense of the strength and resolve of our Wyoming librarians.

Two women performing clapping game with palms of both hands together
(Left to right) Becky Prelle, Youth Services Coordinator for Campbell County Public Library System, and Janet Tharp, a retired librarian, during Janet’s session on storytelling.
Group walking down a small town, downtown street with restaurants and shops
The group checking out Buffalo’s historic downtown.

UW’s Rocky Mountain Herbarium Launches K-12 Initiative

Volunteer Madison Dale, of Laramie, shows the 1 millionth plant specimen — a Wyoming Indian paintbrush — mounted at UW’s Rocky Mountain Herbarium in 2020. Phenomenon-based lessons that use the resources of the world-class herbarium are now available to K-12 educators and students in Wyoming. (UW Photo)

From UW News

The Rocky Mountain Herbarium at the University of Wyoming has long welcomed students of all ages. Now, the herbarium’s leaders are working to make it accessible to teachers and students in classrooms across the state who cannot travel to UW’s main campus.

Matt Bisk, a graduate student from Mount Laurel, N.J., in UW’s Science and Math Teaching Center and graduate assistant to the UW Biodiversity Institute, created phenomenon-based lessons that use the resources of the Rocky Mountain Herbarium. Phenomenon-based learning requires students to explore and explain an observable phenomenon.

Explicit connections to Wyoming science standards are provided for all grade levels; however, most of the lessons may be most appropriate for upper elementary and middle school students.

Resources and lesson suggestions are provided so that students can continue their explorations in multiple directions, including the information and supplies for students and teachers to begin exploring and documenting the diversity of plants in their communities by building their own herbarium.

In addition to the online resources, educators can request the loan of a kit that includes supplies to support student activities, such as full-size prints of the specimens, books, native grass seeds and even a plant press.

Find the online resources and request a kit.

The Rocky Mountain Herbarium has long been a leader in specimen digitization, and its database and images are used daily by researchers around the world. However, those resources have not, until now, been readily accessible to K-12 students and educators.

Learn more on UW News.

Free, Online Forum to Address Post-COVID School Libraries

Libraries Today logo

An upcoming Libraries.Today national forum will address the challenges and opportunities for post-COVID school libraries. The event will be held virtually May 16, 18, and 21 with daily keynotes, panel discussions, and pre-recorded videos.

The forum is free to join and registration is open now. The event was made possible in part by the Institute for Museum and Library Services.


  • May 16 – Roger Rosen – Daily Topic: Information Under Attack
  • May 18 – Amy Hermon – Daily Topic: COVID Changes/Challenges Debrief
  • May 21 – Mark Ray – Daily Topic: Looking Ahead for Solutions


Jennisen Lucas will be among the speakers and will address self censorship. Jennisen is the District Librarian for Park County School District #6 in Cody, Wyoming, and currently serves as the President of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). She has been a school librarian for 20 years, has achieved National Board Certification, and been an active member of the Wyoming Library Association and AASL by serving on a variety of committees.

While the target audience is school librarians, there is an interesting mix of speakers addressing a variety of topics. Panelists will include KC Boyd, Diana Rendina, Carolyn Foote, Leslie Preddy, Keith Curry Lance, John Silva, and many more. Pre-recorded videos for discussion will be available from Dr. Stephen Krashen, Dr. Debbie Reese, Steve Potash, and other notables.

More information

This will be a mix of synchronous and asynchronous sessions with full recordings and replay for everything so librarians can join as they are able and tune in later to catch up on what they missed.

Learn more and register.

Questions? Contact Erin Qiilu Hollingsworth at