It isn’t every day that Hadley Knudsen must produce the family, genus and species of 100 native plants from pressed samples in under 100 minutes with the world watching—and to spell each scientific name exactly right. Students from the Utah State University Chapter of Society for Range Management stood that kind of heat to bring home a second-place prize from a recent regional team competition in Richfield, Utah.
The USU Range Club members placed in both the plant identification contest and the Undergraduate Range Management Exam (URME) team competition at the Society for Range Management in November. The team faced off against 40 other students from BYU, UVU, SUU and Snow College.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Knudsen. “We put in some good practice before we went, but I didn’t know quite what to expect from a competition setting. This was a great warmup for the national competition; I think we’re going to do well there.”
The URME is an intense written examination that includes a broad evaluation of every possible topic associated with range management– from stocking rates to ecological principles to atmospheric chemistry.
“We have done pretty well at these competitions in the past,” said Sean Yadon, Range Club president. “They are a really good way to challenge yourself—to set goals and push your knowledge. There is a lot to know; this competition keeps you on your toes.”
The team earned a cash prize that they’ll use to travel to the national competitions held in Albuquerque, N.M. next year. Their strength, they say, is that many in the team have already worked in the field on wildland fuels crews and had some hands-on practice in these topics.
But they have some work to do before the national competition, said Yadon.
“It’s easy to figure out rangeland conversions when you have the luxury of time. But if you have to perform under pressure, it gets more challenging,” he said.
And spelling is always a challenge, said Knudsen.
“The USU teams represented the college in a spectacular way. We are proud of them,” said Eric LaMalfa, faculty advisor for the club. “They put a lot of preparation into this event, and it was great to show off their hard work.”
The Range Club is a group of students interested in range science and related fields. The USU chapter works to promote the development of future range science professionals, continuing education of members and the public, and sustainable rangeland ecosystems. They are always looking for new members, said Yadon. To find out more, or to join in club events, check out their Instagram account.
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