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UW ag students place in national range competition

Wyoming

Two teams from the University of Wyoming's College of Agriculture placed in the top five at a competition attracting nearly 400 students from throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The competition was during the Society for Range Management's 62nd annual meeting Feb. 8 to 12 in Albuquerque, N.M.

During the meeting, it was announced that UW student Katie Nelson of Philip, S.D., is this year's recipient of the national SRM Masonic-Range Science Scholarship (www.rangelands.org/education_masonicscholarship.shtml). Nelson, a sophomore majoring in rangeland ecology and watershed management, will receive approximately $6,000 over the next two school years.

"This scholarship will help me continue to attend UW, and I encourage other students from here to apply for it," Nelson said. "It's a great opportunity for undergraduate students who are studying range management or a closely related field."

In the Rangeland Cup competition, the UW team comprised of Sage Askin, a junior from Douglas, Leena Horton, a senior from Riverton and Lucas Bindel, a senior from Greeley, Colo., placed second.

All three students are majoring in REWM. They were coached by Pete Stahl, an associate professor in the College of Agriculture's Department of Renewable Resources.

Teams were tested on management issues relating to the settlement of the West. Chadron State College, Chadron, Neb., placed first and Utah State University was third.

Another UW College of Agriculture team placed fifth in the Undergraduate Range Management Exam.

Team members were Askin, Horton, Bindel, Sarah Hanlon of Cheyenne, Matt Ley of Cheyenne, Rives White of Daniel, Adam Teeter of Laramie, Rollin Winter of Leiter, Kaylee Reed of Newcastle, Charles Busby of Centennial, Colo., Meghan Reedy of Vale, S.D., Leah Estill of Eagleville, Calif., and Dean Houchen of Jonesville, Mich.

Hanlon placed first in the individual competition.

All of the students are majoring in REWM with the exception of Reed (animal and veterinary sciences), Estill (agricultural business), and Houchen (a double major in REWM and environment and natural resources).

The team was coached by Jeff Beck, an assistant professor in the Department of Renewable Resources.

Brigham Young University placed first in the URME, Colorado State University second, University of Alberta third and University of Saskatchewan fourth.

URME teams answered questions on grazing management, inventory and assessment of grazing lands, ecology, multiple use, rangeland regions and range improvements.

In the Rangeland Cup competition, teams last October were assigned a research topic that related to management issues associated with the settlement of the West. Teams then had to find a solution to the problems and present this solution at the competition.

The UW Rangeland Cup team focused on split-estate laws involving the federal government (and ultimately the public) owning mineral rights and private landowners owning surface rights. They studied the ecological, economic, social and policy implications relating to split estate.

Co-chairs of the Rangeland Cup competition were Rachel Mealor, a range specialist with the UW Cooperative Extension Service, and Brian Mealor, director of stewardship with The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming and an adjunct faculty member in the UW Department of Renewable Resources.

Mike Smith, a professor in the Department of Renewable Resources and a range management specialist with UW CES, was awarded a service citation as an outgoing associate editor of the SRM publication Rangeland Ecology & Management.

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UW ag student wins national range competition

University of Wyoming College of Agriculture senior Sarah Hanlon, of Cheyenne, placed first among 171 students from throughout the United States and Canada in a rangeland management competition.

Hanlon earned an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., after winning top honors among students from 23 colleges and universities in the annual Society for Range Management's Undergraduate Range Management Exam.

The test was during the SRM's 62nd annual meeting Feb. 8 to 12 in Albuquerque, N.M. The meeting attracted 1,600 people from throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, including nearly 400 college students.

"The competition at the top was very close, and experience and knowledge as a young range professional enabled Sarah to outdistance the others in the URME event," said her academic adviser at UW, Jim Waggoner, an associate professor in the College of Agriculture's Department of Renewable Resources.

Less than 3 percentage points separated the top five finishers. (www.srmmeetings.org/files/dtb_thursday.pdf).

"The test is extremely difficult," said the team's coach, Jeff Beck, an assistant professor in the Department of Renewable Resources. "Students interpret scientific tables and figures relating to rangeland management. They calculate grazing capacities and vegetative attributes such as cover and rangeland production. They have to be very familiar with rangeland ecosystems from hot deserts to sagebrush steppe to short and tallgrass prairie to alpine tundra and others."

Beck added, "Winning this competition is a mark about everything Sarah has learned and digested here at UW and beyond."

Hanlon said, "I have taken this test all four years I've been at UW, and this was one of the hardest. There were 100 questions based on grazing management, inventory and assessment of grazing lands, ecology, multiple use, rangeland types and range improvements."

Hanlon is majoring in rangeland ecology and watershed management. After graduating this spring, she will join the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service office in Springfield, Colo., as a rangeland management specialist.

The U.S. Forest Service awarded Hanlon an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for placing first in the URME competition. The trip is this summer, and Hanlon will meet with top officials from the USFS and other land management agencies and she will visit with a number of congressional delegates and tour the D.C. area. The trip emphasizes the federal government's role in managing the nation's rangeland resources.



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