Reaching out: UW College of Ag and Natural Resources provides learning opportunities for all
Laramie – Many individuals within agriculture are familiar with the educational resources provided through land-grant universities to further their businesses and education.
Through college courses and Extension, these benefits shine a positive light on the agricultural industry for general community members across Wyoming, as well. The University of Wyoming (UW) College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) provides many educational services to community members, regardless of their involvement in the agricultural industry.
“The sum total of our activities, in my opinion, really creates a great contribution and service to Wyoming communities,” says UW Extension Director Glen Whipple.
Courses through the CANR are open for any student to take, provided that they meet the needed prerequisites.
“Students can take any class in CANR as their upper or lower division electives,” says UW CANR Academics Program Senior Office Associate Sarah Kauer.
She explains that some courses, such as micro and macroeconomics, can be transferred over to meet their degree requirements.
Many courses offered through CANR, while not required for degrees in other colleges, are beneficial for rounding the students’ expertise. For example, many students pursuing a degree in wildlife and fisheries management in the College of Arts and Sciences choose to take courses in wildlife pathobiology through CANR.
“We also have a lot of good clubs and organizations that people from all across campus get involved in, which I think says a lot about the College of Ag and the students we have,” says Kauer.
She notes that the Ag Day Bar-B-Que held during Ag Appreciation weekend attracts many community and faculty members who are not involved in agriculture.
“The students attract a lot of attention, which I think is great and gets people interested and involved. It helps to educate those who are not within CANR,” continues Kauer.
CANR also offers many educational programs to community members through UW Extension.
Extension works in the five main initiatives of agriculture and horticulture, rangeland resources, nutrition and food safety, community development education and 4-H and youth development.
“Those are what we call our five main initiatives or what we tend to develop and project programs for the public,” says Whipple.
Educational opportunities are offered in a variety of ways including public meetings, field days, editorials in publications and youth education programs.
“We have workshops on all kinds of things all throughout the year,” says Whipple.
Some popular topics include food preservation, nutritious meals, backyard care and solar energy.
One source that community members can use on the UW Extension website is the “Ask An Expert” utility.
“If I have a question about something, I can post that question on the ‘Ask An Expert’ utility,” explains Whipple.
Regardless of what level of Extension site is used, whether national or state, the question comes directly to UW Extension staff. The question is then matched to the most appropriate source to answer the question.
“Then, within that system, the question comes in and the most appropriate person develops an answer to the question that would be posted online, not just for that person, but for anyone else who may have a similar question about a particular topic,” says Whipple.
“We have offices around the state, and we have a presence in each county and community,” continues Whipple.
Whipple explains that the Extension program serves as a connection between the resources of UW with community members.
“Extension really extends the capabilities of the university to their community,” he says.
Questions received can vary from traditional agricultural business to backyard care to community development projects.
“We try to be able to respond to all questions, particularly if they are within the range of our expertise, but we certainly do our best to answer other kinds of questions or find resources of people that can answer those questions,” says Whipple.
He notes that the educational services Extension provides are informal, rather than for university or high school credit.
“It’s just helping people to know the things that they want to know and need to know to enrich their lives,” he concludes.
Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.