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Written by Dennis Sun

       We know fall is here in Wyoming when the Ag Appreciation Weekend at the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture and Natural Resources draws near. It is a good time to look back at what the College of Ag has accomplished for those involved in ranching, farming or natural resources. It is also a time to honor those in Wyoming agriculture who have helped, most likely unnoticed, over the years.

If you get publications from the college, take the time to read through them or get on their website, uwyo.edu/uwag, and see what all they are doing. If the college was a company doing business in the state, it would be a big one. But it is not a company, it is a state institution that deserves our support for all the good they do for the state and its students, our kids.

A good barometer for the College of Ag is to see all the scholarships that are available to its students, the largest amount for any college at the university. Also, when reading through a list of all of the degrees that are available from the Ag College and the numerous schools within the college, we can see that they are doing a lot of good work in important areas. Research at the college is also at a high due to all of the grants received.

Those involved in agriculture and other industries in Wyoming are facing some major challenges in the near future, sage grouse among the top. Our College of Ag has been right there helping with the bird from the start. We hear that if all the western states would have accomplished as much as Wyoming has, a listing would be out of the question. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) must view the western states as two areas – the Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin, so that’s where we shake the dice. The FWS Director will rely on a team for recommendations on what to decide on the scientific side, and then he will have to view the political side. As our government is run from the top down these days, the director may decide to not list the sage grouse, but if the White House says to list it, he will have to go with the company line. That’s shaking the dice.

With the last several years of an energy boom in our state in a lot of places, we kind of have to patch up and restore the land. The Ag College’s reclamation focus is a Godsend. There have been many bright students graduating and working for the energy industry in the reclamation field who are well-educated in dealing with invasive species and other issues that come with disturbance.

Another issue the Ag College is working on is brucellosis and the vaccine to control it. Brucellosis is known as a wildlife disease these days, and the Ag College and Wyoming State Vet Lab are on track to hopefully find a cattle vaccine that really works and a vaccine for wildlife that will curb transmission of the disease. Brucellosis is a worldwide disease that affects many, including humans in some countries. Yellowstone Park and the surrounding area’s wildlife are the only source in the U.S. Somehow we have to clean that up, and we’re all counting on the Ag College.

Support the University of Wyoming College of Ag and honor its awardees by showing up at the Ag Appreciation Weekend on Sept. 25-26. You could easily see a great football game, too.