Crane joins UW Extension administration
Laramie – After working in Oregon and Idaho, Kelly Crane has returned to UW Extension as an associate director.
“I started my extension career at UW in Sweetwater County as an Area Educator for southwest Wyoming. I then served as the statewide Extension Range Specialist for several years,” says Crane. “Initially, I was based in Sublette County but spent my last four years as a campus-based specialist.”
Crane’s background in range management is extensive and started when he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Idaho in rangeland resources. He continued his education at UW for both his master’s degree and PhD in range management and rangeland ecology and watershed management, respectively.
Crane’s applied research and educational programs focus on identifying practical, research-based strategies to grazing management and rangeland assessment.
“Nearly all of my research at UW was done through a cooperative effort with ranchers and agency rangeland managers,” says Crane. “I conducted research on topics such as the habitat selection patterns of wild horses and the influence cattle grazing on habitat selection by elk.”
Crane left Wyoming in 2002 to initiate Frontier Natural Resource Consulting, where he spent six years as the principal consultant and manager of this firm.
Frontier Natural Resource Consulting was based in Prineville, Ore. but served clients in seven western states.
“Our clientele included ranches, federal agencies, state agencies and several Native American tribes. We conducted extensive rangeland inventories on the Blackfeet, Yakima, Burns Paiute and Warm Springs reservations,” explains Crane. “The consulting business was very rewarding, but extensive travel and the need to spend most of my year living in a separate zip code from my family made me consider other career alternatives.”
Crane planned to move the consulting business to Idaho where he had purchased a ranch. However, before he even finished his move, he identified an opportunity to return to Extension, something he had always kept in the back of his mind.
Crane applied and was hired as the Range Extension Specialist for the University of Idaho (UI). Crane served as UI’s Range Specialist for three years prior to his move back to Wyoming.
In his work in Idaho, Crane worked on research projects involving the interaction between wolves and cattle, livestock grazing as a tool for wildfire fuel management and restoration of cheatgrass sites.
“Rangeland and grazing management has been the focus of my entire professional career, and I never really considered administrative positions until this opportunity with UW Extension,” says Crane.
Beginning Sept. 1, Crane began his duties as Associated Director. In this position, he supervises the area extension and 4-H educators on the west side of the state, including those in Big Horn, Fremont, Hot Springs, Lincoln, Park, Sublette, Sweetwater, Teton, Uinta and Washakie counties, as well as the Wind River Indian Reservation.
“Our area educators conduct educational programs and applied research in five initiative areas,” says Crane. “They are profitable and sustainable agriculture systems; sustainable management of rangeland resources; nutrition and food safety; 4-H youth development; and community development education.”
“I’m also the administrative advisor to two of our five initiative teams,” he added. “I advise the profitable and sustainable agriculture systems and sustainable management of rangeland resources teams.”
For now, Crane says he plans to watch and listen to evaluate how Extension is doing at meeting educational needs in communities, but ultimately he hopes to work with the educators to advance some of his personal goals for UW Extension.
“I want to ensure that the University of Wyoming, and UW Extension specifically, remains relevant and responsive to the needs of people out in the state,” explains Crane. “Our relevance is based on understanding the needs of our stakeholders at the local level. Our presence in every community in the state is what distinguishes us as a land grant university and uniquely positions Extension to meet educational needs in Wyoming.
“Our area educators bring the research, resources and talent from the UW’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and UW as a whole, ‘out to the country.’ Likewise, our connections with individuals and organizations in the state can determine research and education needs to be addressed on campus.”
“We need to continue to demonstrate tangible and meaningful impacts to Wyoming communities,” Crane continues. “We depend on a partnership with Wyoming counties to support 4-H Youth Development programs in every county and area educational programs throughout the state. The documented impacts of our educational programs and the profound positive influence of our 4-H Youth Development program are how we demonstrate accountability in our partnership with Wyoming counties.”
Ultimately, Crane says, “The university has to be responsive to the needs of the people.”
Like most things that result in good outcomes, UW Extension relies on productive relationships with individuals and organizations.
“I also hope to strengthen partnerships between UW Extension and our stakeholders – both individuals and organizations,” he says. “We have some great opportunities to partner with other organizations in delivering education.”
While this job is his first in administration, Crane says he is ready for the opportunity.
“I’ve been in extension and research my entire career, but administration provides a unique opportunity to contribute to the bigger picture and hopefully further the objectives of UW Extension,” explains Crane. “I’m still naïve enough to think that.”
With his passion for both range management and the university extension system, Crane looks forward to the position.
“We are truly excited to be back in Wyoming. It feels like home,” says Crane. “I like the country in Wyoming, but really, it’s the people that brought us back. There is a certain inexplicable attitude and atmosphere in Wyoming, that exists in no other western state. We’re tickled to be in Wyoming again.”
Saige Albert is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.