Partners in Resource Excellence: A Meeting with Three of Wyoming’s Natural Resources AssociationsWritten by Windy Kelley
By Windy K. Kelley, Wyoming Society for Range Management Past
President and UW Extension Regional Extension Coordinator
The Wyoming Society for Range Management (SRM) held their annual meeting Nov. 3-5 in Laramie. The theme of this year’s meeting was “Partners in Resource Excellence” – an appropriate theme, as the meeting was in partnership with the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts and the Wyoming Weed and Pest Districts, and partnerships are at the core of work in natural resources and agriculture.
Participants had the option to attend a tour on the first day, including a tour of X Bar Ranch west of Laramie. The Office of State Lands and Investments acquired the ranch in December 2007 and manages it for the benefit of the common school, or K-12, permanent land and income funds. The current lessee manages the ranch as a yearling operation, and they produce hay. Additionally, the ranch is enrolled in the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Hunter Management Area program. It was great to learn about the effort and to meet the ranch manager.
The second day included a presentation from retired University of Wyoming professor and author Dr. Dennis Knight as the keynote speaker. Dr. Knight shared a wealth of information and updates in the second edition of the Mountains and Plains: The Ecology of Wyoming Landscapes. Dr. Knight shared ecological implications of a changing climate in Wyoming and touched upon changes such as the role of the Greater sage grouse in land management today compared to when the first edition of the book was published. It was evident that Dr. Knight had an influence on a number of Wyoming’s current ranchers and organization professionals who attended this year’s meeting.
Each of the associations organized and hosted a concurrent session the third morning. Wyoming SRM organized the session titled, “Rangeland Research On-the-Ground with Private and Public Land Managers,” which Dr. Justin Derner of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service moderated. The session included a number of great presentations, starting with Joe Hicks of USDA Forest Service, followed by Wyoming rancher Scott Sims sharing about their on-the-ground applied management and research and needs from academic research.
The morning continued with researchers sharing how they are working to scale-up their research to be more relevant and true to how land managers and ranchers manage lands, including an adaptive grazing management experiment in northern Colorado. More about the experiement can be found at ars.usda.gov/Main/Docs.htm?docid=24218.
Additionally, state of Colorado Climatologist Nolan Doesken shared climate tools for ranchers and emphasized the need for more local precipitation data. The data can be collected by citizens and reported into the CoCoRaHS database. Dr. John Ritten of the University of Wyoming (UW) continued and wrapped-up the conversation about the importance of local precipitation data in his talk about economic impacts of increasing seasonal precipitation variation on cow/calf enterprises.
Thank you to all of the speakers and participants for an excellent session!
It’s a great pleasure each year to celebrate rangeland stewards in Wyoming. Wyoming SRM received a number of nominations for groups and individuals from throughout the state.
The following were awarded and recognized at this year’s meeting. The Uinta County Conservation District received the Award of Merit, and Piney Creeks Restoration Project received the Outstanding Achievement Award.
Jessica Crowder and Mae Smith were presented with Young Range Professionals awards, and D. Terrance Booth and J. Daniel Rodgers received Sustained Lifetime Achievement awards for 2014 and 2015, respectively. Lastly, Rick Dunne was honored with the Trail Boss Memorial.
Congratulations to all of you, and thank you again for your hard work, and dedication to the stewardship of rangelands.
Youth activities are at the center of the Wyoming SRM annual meeting. Activities include a student-professional mixer and events such as the High School Youth Forum and Rangeland Cup. Student events and competitions prepare the next generation of rangeland stewards through testing their knowledge and giving them the opportunity to develop their skills.
In Extemporaneous Speaking, Lacy Nelson of Sheridan College received first place, and BJ Bender of UW came in second. Kelsey Welter, Eric Ramerth, Morgan Squires and Justin White of UW won first place in the Rangeland Cup Team Poster Competition, and second place for the contest went to Jessica Windh, Alyssa Archuleta and Jared Nichols, also of UW.
The Undergraduate Range Management Exam (URME) first place winner was Jessica Windh of UW, and a tie for second went to Kelsey Welter and Eric Ramerth, both of UW. Lastly, in the Plant Identification Contest, Tevyn Bladwin of UW took first place, and UW’s BJ Bender came in second.
Wyoming SRM also held its second annual Pro-Am Challenge, an event partnering an undergraduate student with a professional for the URME and Plant Identification. Eric Ramerth of UW and Thad Berrett of the U.S. Forest Service came in first in the URME, and in Plant Identification, BJ Bender of UW and Julie Kraft of Sublette County Weed and Pest District topped the contest.
This year’s High School Youth Forum had youth from Upton and Green River. This event allows high school students to prepare and present about a rangeland topic of their choice. The youth with the highest score has the opportunity to attend and deliver their presentation at the International Society for Range Management’s annual meeting – an all-expense-paid trip. Karen Lambert of Upton High School had this year’s top score with her presentation titled Studying the Impacts of Cattle Trailing in Weston County.
Congratulations to everyone!
We want to thank our partners in resource management, conference sponsors and tradeshow vendors for another great meeting! Your continued support is appreciated.