University President highlights commitment to ag, Cooperative Extensions
Casper — “There’s great opportunity for the University of Wyoming and agriculture to build on our century-old relationship,” said University of Wyoming President Tom Buchanan to members of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation meeting in Casper on Nov. 13.
“The College of Ag, as I speak,” said Buchanan, “is becoming, in my opinion, the national leader in combating brucellosis. We’re delighted that the legislature has provided the initial financial support to get this effort underway and to work towards a long-term solution.”
Buchanan continued, “It’s clear to us that the Department of Agriculture, private pharmaceutical companies and federal animal health agencies have established other priorities and they lack the necessary interest to take on this challenge. It is the type of challenge we are ready for at UW and with the help of the legislature and public and private partners we’re going to make some progress. We have asked for support from the legislature to continue to work toward an effective vaccine and more reliable diagnostic tests for brucellosis in elk and in cattle. Ongoing brucellosis research, continued support from stakeholders and additional testing will lay that foundation. A vaccine for brucellosis is within our reach if we set our minds to it. It’s a priority at UW and we’re going to work on this and you’re going to hear more about it.”
An important aspect of the college’s brucellosis research program is the addition of a new biosafety laboratory. A groundbreaking for the $25 million addition to the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory was held in June and Buchanana reported that the foundation is complete and the steel walls in place. The project is to be complete within two years.
“This facility,” said Buchanan, “will allow us to study disease agents such as plague, tularemia, brucellosis and Q fever and to do it in a safe environment compliant with all of the safety regulations that are out there.” Buchanan said the facility would aid their ability to conduct research and carry out diagnostic work. He said the college intends to staff the facility with the best faculty and research professionals in the field.
“From engineering research on wind turbines to legal analysis of wind regulations, our professors and students are contributing expertise and science to questions related to wind energy,” said Buchanan. “This is going to be around for a while. It’s going to be a challenge for all of us. It’s an area where ag and UW can find a lot of common ground. Remind us where you need help and information.”
Creation of the Wyoming Reclamation and Restoration Center within the College of Agriculture dovetails with the institution’s work surrounding wind energy development. “This is a program whose mission is developing and collecting information and science related to reclamation of lands in Wyoming and the western United States,” explained Buchanan. “Most recent interest in reclamation comes from energy development, but not all. The same reclamation technology that can be applied to a natural gas wellhead can also be applied to the siting of a wind turbine or an abandoned irrigation facility. This effort was started with a generous appropriation for an endowment by the Governor and the legislature.” Buchanan said University leaders recently met with energy industry representatives on future funding for the program.
Amidst the new efforts and programs, Buchanan said the University continues to support the University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service (CES) and its outreach efforts. “Our CES program emerged untouched,” he said of recent budget cuts. “Their budget is solid and their programs are strong. They’re a priority at UW. Cooperative Extension is at the core of UW’s mission and we will protect their programs and their people just as we protect the educational programs we deliver to students throughout Wyoming. We may be in some challenging times, but the future remains bright for the future of Cooperative Extension at UW.”
Buchanan said, “I’m pretty proud of the work that’s being done by Dean Galey and his faculty and staff. We have deep roots in agriculture. I’ve been around long enough to know that UW shares many of the core values that you hold. We adapt to changing markets and economic environments, we recognize the value of hard work, we invest this year’s rewards for a brighter future down the road and we both, in our own ways, struggle to navigate the rules and regulation that are adopted in Cheyenne and in Washington.”
Jennifer Womack is staff writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.