Opinion by Sage AskinWritten by Sage Askin
By Sage Askin, UW Student Range Club president
On the week of May 7-11 the UW Student Range Club proudly hosted the first annual Integrated Ranch Management Symposium.
The club is an entirely student-operated organization composed of students who are interested in land management in any way. We strive to promote the University of Wyoming and its Rangeland Ecology and Watershed Management major, to educate our students to be the best in the nation and to do it as a recognized student organization affiliated with UW. We have been very well supported by the Department of Ecosystem Sciences and Management, Peabody Energy, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, the Laramie Rivers Conservation District and many other very generous supporters. We also wish to thank everyone who purchased our firewood last year. All of this sponsorship and fundraising helped to make this event possible.
We decided to create this event to promote sustainable ranch management and progressive ranching for the state of Wyoming. We integrated components of stockmanship, marketing and grazing management to complete a very informative week. We believe these create three essential components of a successful ranching operation.
The Wyoming Livestock Roundup gave a very good overview of Tom Noffsinger’s presentation of Monday and Tuesday in its May 14 edition. This low-stress animal-handling workshop was very well attended and full of good information. Second-day participants were able to handle animals live one-on-one. Then, on the afternoon of the May 8, Aaron Berger of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln presented a systems approach to ranch management, including calculation of unit cost of production, and it was a very well presented way to think about our ranching enterprises and valuing their inputs versus benefits. This is instrumental in promoting profit on a ranch.
The next two days were full of a very energetic presentation by Curt Epler and Ross Wahlert in a marketing presentation that covered all aspects of Sell-Buy marketing and how it may be implemented on our cow-calf operations. We covered many math problems, including valuation, value of gain, total cost to keep and how to put all of these ideas to work for us. This marketing tool allows users to minimize risk and to realize optimal profits. An interesting note is these ideas and the low stress animal handling ideas both started with Bud Williams, the great animal handler and progressive force in the beef industry.
Thursday afternoon brought us Mike Smith of UW Extension. He successfully brought the week’s events together to show how all of these components are the most important tools a rancher can utilize to realize our optimal baseline profitability while maintaining our lifestyle.
Friday we traveled to Sims Cattle Company of McFadden, where Scott and April Sims, together with Shannon and Melinda Sims, showed off their very successful operation. They have long been promoters of progressive ranching and grazing management, and their operation excels in many ways as a unique standard in the state for what can be done to improve the land and our God-given resource.
The attendance exceeded expectations, and the week went smoothly, and we hope to make this an annual event, so please watch for this education-filled week to come around next year, with improvements by the new officer team of the UW Range Club. It was certainly a rewarding and ultimately beneficial experience for all! Thanks again to all of our sponsors and participants!