UW College of Ag provides update on new programs
Laramie – University of Wyoming (UW) College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean Barbara Rascoe and UW Associate Dean and Director of Extension Kelly Crane provided an update on exciting new agriculture programs and opportunities for attending students at the Wyoming Stock Growers Association’s Winter Roundup.
After votes by UW’s Board of Trustees, a major reorganization of the university’s academic programs is expected in 2022 and 2023. The board approved plans to update UW programs following months of development through review and feedback from internal and external stakeholders.
The reorganization of several programs has started immediately, but some won’t start until the summer of 2023, shared Rascoe. Several departments will be reorganized, and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources will incur some changes.
UW will be making changes to the departments of zoology and physiology, botany and the life sciences program as well as relocating degrees from the College of Arts and Sciences to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, shared Rascoe.
“Part of what UW is doing over the next year is starting a strategic planning process for this reorganization,” said Rascoe. “We have a very strong advisory board who is giving us guidance at the college.”
UW will provide updates on the reorganization process as projects progress and changes continue.
Rascoe thanked several key donors for their financial support of agriculture programs including Farm Credit Services of America, Ann Ramsay and a family from Powell.
In addition to launching a ranch management and agricultural leadership program, UW is also going to be able to support the Teton County Extension program from a $1.8 million donation made by Ramsay in honor of her late mother, Elizabeth McGabe.
“Obviously, Teton County is a pretty expensive place to live, so having this gift to support operations, Extension and 4-H outreach in Teton County is really important,” Rascoe said. “UW also had a very successful Giving Day this year, and a number of generous donors provided matches for gifts.”
Another successful fundraising event was the Wyoming Wool Innovation Program.
“UW had roughly 267 blankets made out of wool from sheep at the Laramie Research and Extension Center,” Rascoe continued.
The project profited nearly $60,000 from the blanket project, which will be used to support wool programs throughout the state and the sheep industry.
In the spring of 2021, the Chief Washakie Foundation established the Zedora Teton Enos Excellence Fund at UW to benefit the Wind River Indian Reservation Community.
The success of UW would not be possible without the support of amazing donors, and UW is appreciative of the support they received from all donors in 2021.
There will be several research programs and projects added to the arsenal in 2022, with a focus in wildlife and livestock heath initiatives, Rascoe shared.
Dr. Ginger Paige’s research will be collecting data on snowpack and soil moisture from weather stations which are being set up in the Upper Missouri River Basin in order to identify strategies for rangeland management, Rascoe noted.
“UW has a major grant coming in from the work of Dr. J. Derek Scasta on rangeland management and effects on soil health of some of the practices Wyoming producers use,” she continued. “We’re going to be coming up with some good, useful data in this area.”
Lastly, UW will be focusing on several other areas of study including plant cover, environmental impacts, soil quality and the impacts of carbon and carbon capture.
Relief funds available
“There are a number of things that would directly support UW’s ability to be able to better serve the industry,” she said.
Earlier this summer, Gov. Mark Gordon released planning framework to leverage resources and relief funds in order to ensure Wyoming will thrive for years to come and maximize benefits to the people of Wyoming.
Through public comment, funding has the potential to improve UW facilities through infrastructure improvements and technical upgrades.
“If you have a chance to take look at the Drive and Thrive Initiative and goal number three, I encourage you to do so. Your input is going to be important on what you think the governor and legislature should fund,” Rascoe said.
COVID-19 challenges and job openings
“UW finished a fall semester with face-to-face classes on campus, and this might not seem like it’s noteworthy but it really is,” said Crane. “We tested every student, staff and faculty member when they came to campus for COVID-19.”
Crane thanked UW trustees and faculty for the vision and courage to have on-campus learning, though filling Extension positions will be one of Crane’s next area of focus.
“Our highest priority in Extension is to fill our county level positions and we’ve got a lot of them open,” he said.
UW Extension is looking to fill positions in Goshen, Sweetwater, Johnson, Big Horn, Natrona, Converse, Uinta, Sheridan and Platte counties.
“We probably won’t get all of these done this year, but that’s where we are headed,” he continued. “Those positions will be a mix of agriculture and natural resource positions and community vitality and health.”
Per a report published by the UW Admissions Office, 12 percent of the incoming class of students in Wyoming were out of a 4-H program, noted Crane.
“It shows 4-H out in communities is by far the best after school recruiting enterprise, so we’re really proud of this, and our hats go off to the state’s 4-H educators,” Crane added.
New ranch management program
A new undergraduate program – Ranch Management and Ag Leadership – will integrate disciplines of ag business, animal science and range management, shared Crane.
In addition to the program, there will be intensive training provided to individuals seeking to become ranch managers, agency natural resource managers and agribusiness leaders, he said.
“One of the objectives is to connect UW students on campus with professionals in the field and give them an inside scoop of real world issues in the state.”
The program will offer students the opportunity to learn technical knowledge and real-world experimental learning opportunities in a private, public and nonprofit sections of western agriculture.
“The state of Wyoming is fortunate to have some of the best individuals involved in agriculture – providing learning opportunities to the next generation,” concluded Crane.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.