Bob Gowans will ride his own horse from his backyard in Tooele City as he leads the 2018 Bit ‘n’ Spur Fourth of July Parade.
Gowans, an agriculture education teacher at Tooele High School, has been selected as grand marshal for the city’s Fourth of July Parade and the Bit n’ Spur Rodeo, according to Jim Harrell, rodeo chairman.
Gowans was selected for his service to youth and the community, according to Harrell.
Although he was born and raised in Tooele City, the home he was born and raised in is still on animal property. Gowans was 9 years old when he entered the Tooele County Junior Livestock Show for the first time.
The Gowans family has owned a ranch in Vernon since the 1960s. Born in 1960, one of Gowans’ earliest recollections is riding to Vernon with is grandfather, Phillip Ross Gowans, to work on the family ranch.
Gowans took vocational agriculture classes and participated in FFA while attending Tooele High School.
Inspired by his agriculture teacher and FFA advisor, Leland Beckstrom, Gowans graduated from THS in 1978 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education from Utah State University in 1982. He received a master’s degree from USU in 2000.
After his graduation from USU, Gowans started what so far has been a 37-year career working with youth in agriculture education .
Gowans started teaching in the Emery County School District. After five years, he returned to his hometown in 1987 to teach at his former high school.
He currently teaches half-time at Tooele High School and spends the other half of his time at the school district office where he coordinates agriculture education for the district.
In addition to teaching agriculture classes and advising the Tooele High School FFA chapter during the school year, Gowans works during the summer supervising over 200 students in the summer agriculture program.
As part of the summer agriculture program, Gowans said he visits students who are raising animals, working with veterinarians, doing welding and other agriculture-related skills, and running their own business.
“Ag education today is about much more than just production,” Gowans said. “I have found it best to expose students to all the facets of agriculture and then let them pursue what they find interesting.”
Gowans has been involved in the Tooele County Junior Livestock Show for a number of years. He has served as president and currently is the treasurer.
He assisted in bringing the Utah Junior Turkey Show to Tooele County in 1982. Later, he signed on as a member of a limited liability company that purchased a turkey processing plant in northern Utah to protect the future of the Utah Youth Turkey Show.
For 25 years, Gowans was the junior sheep supervisor at the Utah State Fair. He was the school advisor for the high school rodeo for six years.
A horse rider since his youth, Gowans has been involved in the Bit n’ Spur Riding Club youth riding program and served as president of the Bit n’ Spur Riding Club from 1995-96.
Gowans has led students on horse and ATV rides as well as in numerous service projects, including landscaping Deseret Peak Complex, adding 250 trees to school grounds, building a student garden, and raising poinsettias for senior citizens.
In 2005, Gowans was recognized as one of 10 teachers in Utah with the Huntsman Award for Excellence in Education.
Gowans was nominated for the Huntsman Award by his principal at the time, Mike Westover.
“Bob has definitely exemplified excellence by making a direct, positive impact on the lives of students of Tooele,” Westover said in his nomination letter for Gowans.
The local region of the Association of Career Technical Educators, which includes 16 states, honored Gowans in 2013 with its Teacher of the Year in Community Service Award. He was also one of five finalists for the National ACTE Teacher of the Year in Community Service Award.
In the community, Gowans served on the Tooele City Planning and Zoning Commission for 12 years where he was an advocate for maintaining Tooele City’s heritage, including preserving animal property.
Gowans served for two years on the Tooele County Tourism Board and on Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s 21st Century Task Force. Gowans has also served as president of the Tooele Cattlemen’s Association.
For the last 17 years, Gowans has been either the president or vice president of the Tooele Education Association.
Gowans, along with his wife Tami, raised three children in his house in Tooele City that sits on three acres of animal property near Coleman Street. His grandchildren now raise and care for steers, lambs, goats, turkeys, and horses in his backyard.
“It is an honor to be recognized by the Bit n’ Spur as their grand marshal,” Gowans said. “My biggest enjoyment through the years has been to watch and help kids to be successful.”