Greetings from your New Range SpecialistWritten by Derek Scasta
By Derek Scasta, UW Extension Range Specialist
Since this is my first article for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, I wanted to take a minute and introduce myself. My name is Derek Scasta, and I started as an assistant professor and Extension range specialist at the University of Wyoming in August of 2014.
Prior to coming to Wyoming I served as an Extension educator in Texas for almost seven years. Then I went back to graduate school to complete a Ph.D. at Oklahoma State University. My doctoral research program focused on how disturbances on rangelands, such as fire and drought, and management, such as stocking rate and timing of grazing, influence cattle distribution, parasites, plant community composition and structure, plant succession, shrub regeneration and production.
I have been charged by the University of Wyoming to conduct Extension, research and teaching focused on the interaction between plants and herbivores. Over the last year I started projects in Wyoming focused on sheep and cattle grazing, livestock-wildlife interactions, including prairie dogs, livestock and wildlife responses to fire, toxic plants, parasites, predators and animal nutrition.
With that said, I really hope to work with the Wyoming ranching community in dealing with the most challenging issues. My grandfather and great-grandfather were both supportive of Extension education programs in Texas, and they believed Extension was important to the operation and success of the farm and ranch. Because I know that ranchers today are facing increasing challenges and pressures that make ranching an increasingly complex enterprise, I hope to help you all navigate those challenges for the long-term viability of your operations.
One of the ways I hope to provide more information for you is by the creation of a blog that will give you access to the most recent and relevant scientific research. The idea for the blog actually started in southwestern Wyoming when I was visiting with a rancher who was trying to access and understand new research dealing with range cattle production. The rancher couldn’t always access the research because he was not associated with a library that pays for journal access, and at times, the papers were very difficult to even comprehend. These papers can be difficult to read because they are often written by scientists for scientists but not for the rest of us. My job as an Extension professional is to bring that information to you in a way that is easy and efficient to understand. Given the many environmental, economic, political and social pressures facing rangeland agriculture and conservation, I think it is imperative that you have the most current scientific studies that agencies and government will be using to make decisions.
The new blog titled “Rangelands4u” can be found at wyoextension.org/rangelands4u. I will provide brief summaries of the most recent and relevant research to rangelands in Wyoming. You can subscribe with an email address to be notified when new posts have been added. Posts will typically be a single paragraph and will summarize the key findings from the latest research.