Visions, Agriculture Visionary

Keeping the family farm alive is difficult in this era of low prices, government regulation and increasing taxes, but Mark Voloshin wasn't ready to see his ancestors' dreams die in the face of adversi

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In 1925 a homestead was claimed outside the town of Craig. Two Russian immigrants, a husband and wife, escaped the bondage of their Motherland and braved their way across the Atlantic Ocean and the static oceans of the American plains to homestead a plot of land. They were chasing a dream, the American dream, the Voloshin family dream.

Today the land, larger than the original homestead, still is the Voloshin dream in the hands of the youngest of the Voloshin line, Mark. Mark is the grandson of the Russian immigrants who settled the land in the 20s, and has ensured its survival for at least one more generation.

"My grandparents didn't get the land right away," Voloshin said. "They ended up mining coal in Pennsylvania to get money to come out here, but this is what they wanted land. This is the reason they left Russia."

Voloshin was born and raised on the homestead that his grandparents claimed and had several chances in his life to leave the family ranch.

A star wrestler at Moffat County High School, he earned a scholarship to the University of Wyoming. He spent his time working on his moves on the mat and in the classroom, finishing up the bulk of his industrial education degree in three years.

With an undergraduate degree in hand, Voloshin pursued his master's in school administration, but there was one thing that could and did pull him away from his academic disciplines, the homestead.

"The homestead had been passed down for generations, it was my turn and I wasn't going to pass it up," he said. "It was the opportunity to be independent, to strive for personal achievement I think it all ties into the attitude I gained in wrestling, an attitude to be self-sufficient."

That independent attitude is why Voloshin was nominated as this year's agriculture Visionary. He turned to tradition, instead looking for what may lie outside Moffat County. He chose a profession which many now turn their backs on, especially after earning a college degree.

Voloshin has taken the road less traveled and it has made all the difference.

"I felt that it was my responsibility to take care of what my family has built. It has not always been easy, but that's to be expected in a ranching lifestyle," he said. "I take my responsibility as guardian of my family's heritage seriously, as well as my responsibility to the land."

Like many ranchers and farmers in Moffat County, Voloshin sees his role as a rancher as more than just raising livestock. He bears the responsibility of caretaker of the land.

"The grass, water and air are all renewable resources; each spring they rejuvenate themselves," he said. "As a rancher, it is my obligation to ensure that this happens. The land doesn't only depend on me, I depend on the land, so I have to safeguard it to safeguard myself."

Voloshin represents a new generation of rancher, one who answers the call to duty. As rancher or as president of the Moffat County Cattlemen's Association, Voloshin is a man who has put certain pursuits on hold, or canceled them all together, to keep a few acres of American land productive. He has led the way for others to follow and is a true visionary.

"The ranch lifestyle can not be broken down to dollar signs, it is more than that. Ranching is lifestyle of independence, of self-worth, of aspects that can't have a price put on them" he said. "This is not something that should slip away, it should be guarded so that generations to come won't be denied the chance to experience what made the west, the west."

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