CoANR looks to the future
The University of Wyoming (UW) College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CoANR) has many current projects and new programs rolling out to continue supporting Wyoming agriculture and rural communities.
In spite of budget cuts, CoANR Dean Barbara Rasco shared the college is making headway with new facilities for the UW rodeo team, implementing blockchain, featuring UW research centers and planning the new ranch management program.
Overcoming budget cuts
For this next year, the UW CoANR took a $1.7 million budget cut, which Rasco explained is in line with budget decreases seen in other colleges across the UW campus.
Stating the biggest concern is student enrollment, Rasco said, “We expect to see a lot of students return to the college in the fall, and if energy prices come back, the tax base in the state would be a little better.”
The college has looked into some federal programs to help support their operations, but none have been implemented at this point.
“We’ve been able to be strategic within the CoANR to focus on our core areas of student success, community engagement and supporting Wyoming agriculture and rural community vitality and health,” Rasco shared. “We are able to absorb some cuts without substantial impact to our programs, but if there is another cut, it will be hard to manage through it.”
One of the recent focuses has been to improve and expand facilities in Laramie, including facilities for the rodeo team and for research at the Laramie Research and Extension Center (LREC). A new horse boarding facility was completed in the fall of 2020, and Rasco noted the stalls are filled with student horses.
In addition, the CoANR is planning on additional expansion, with some ideas for expanding the rodeo program to add a covered practice arena as well as improve facilities for the sheep program at LREC.
“Because of COVID-19, the Hansen Arena has pretty much been open to the rodeo team any time they have need, and the amount of practice they put in has really showed in their success this spring,” Rasco commented. “There are a number of teams, including 4-H, college equestrian teams and livestock classes that use the Hansen Arena, so having a covered arena would give the rodeo team a dedicated facility.”
Programs and projects
Rasco shared, the college has also been working to better coordinate with community college agriculture programs within the state of Wyoming, as well as looking to feature UW ag research centers and community colleges in close proximity to provide support to both entities.
Another large project the college has rolled out is the blockchain project, focused on showcasing both the UW wool and sheep programs. Wool from sheep raised at LREC was processed and blankets were made at Mountain Meadow Wool in Buffalo.
“I’m seeing this as an opportunity for collectors to have the first edition of our Wyoming blanket,” said Rasco. “Next year, we will do it again with a new design and turn it into a collectors’ item.”
More information on purchasing UW blankets will be released as it is available.
Curriculum, degree programs, certificates and courses for the new ranch management and leadership program are also underway this summer. Program Director Pepper Jo Six shared, the program offers an opportunity for professional development in terms of short courses and speaker series directed towards working professionals, as well as a bachelor’s degree and many certificates.
“We are hoping students from other colleges and those outside of the university might be interested in certificates from short course programs,” Rasco said. “I see issues in estate planning, energy, federal land leases and animal traceability all linked to our ranch management program.”
Averi Hales is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.