Students representing Utah State University’s College of Natural Resources proved that they’re very much at home on the range at the 60th annual international Society for Range Management meeting held Feb. 10-16 in Reno, Nev.
Aggies from USU’s Range Club, the SRM student chapter, captured the society’s Rangeland Cup in an undergraduate team problem-solving competition that debuted at the 2007 meeting. USU students also performed well in individual and other team events.
“Our undergraduate students are wonderful ambassadors for our department, college and USU as a whole,” said Johan du Toit, head of USU’s Department of Wildland Resources. “They presented an excellent example of what undergraduates at a great institution should do: work hard, excel, take pride in excelling, help others along and have a really good time doing it.”
USU undergrads Kody Menghini and Katie Santini, mentored by Wildland Resources professor John Malechek, took first place in the inaugural Rangeland Cup, besting teams from throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. The team received a traveling trophy that will reside in USU’s College of Natural Resources – for at least the next year.
“It’s a beauty,” said CNR Dean Nat Frazer. “We’ve already decided we’re not giving it up next year.”
A second Utah State team of Jenny Christiansen, Shaylan Franc, Jade Sumsion and Makeda Trujillo, mentored by Wildland Resources faculty member Christopher Call, also participated in the competition.
Student Sarah Redd placed fourth in the combined Plant Identification and Undergraduate Range Management Exam, in which more than 150 participants competed. Also placing in the top percentile in Plant Identification were Aggies Mark Ewell, Jamin Johanson and John Reese, which garnered a seventh place position for USU in the competition.
In addition to Redd, students placing in the top range on the URME were Ewell, Trisha Finlayson, Mark Hendrix, Gilbert Jackson, Johanson, Reese and Trent Staheli, which landed USU in eighth place in the exam competition.
Reese placed fifth, James Stuart placed eighth and Christiansen placed 12th in the individual extemporaneous public speaking competition. Also participating in the competition were Franc and Sumsion.
Students invited to present papers at the conference were Menghini, who presented “Desert Tortoise Survey in the Southern Nevada Complex;” Santini, who presented “Wildfire Management Areas: An Old Strategy with New Rules;” and Stuart, who presented “Stockmanship: A Tool for Healthy Rangelands.”
Finlayson, Johanson, Santini, Staheli and Sumsion also prepared a Range Club Display representing USU at the meeting.
In addition to Malechek, Call, du Toit and Frazer, advisors and coaches for the USU undergraduates were Tehabi Internship Coordinator Ben Baldwin, Wildland Resources professor Fee Busby and Wildland Resources Research professor Leila Shultz.
Headquartered in Colorado, the Society for Range Management is a professional scientific society and conservation organization whose members are concerned with studying, conserving, managing and sustaining the varied resources of rangelands, which comprise nearly half the land in the world. Established in 1948, SRM has more than 4,000 members in 48 countries. USU is one of nine SRM-accredited universities.
Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto [firstname.lastname@example.org