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SRM awards individuals

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Several individuals from Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska and Idaho received awards during the 75th Annual Society for Range Management (SRM) Meeting in Albuquerque, N.M. earlier this February. 

W.R. Chapline Research Award

Dr. Justin D. Derner received the W.R. Chapline Research Award. This is the highest honor bestowed to a research scientist by SRM. The award is presented in recognition of his major research accomplishments in the areas of grazing management and grazing systems, stakeholder engagement in collaborative rangeland research and long-term climate impacts on forage and livestock production in the Great Plains. 

His peers consider his research to be exemplary in both quantity and quality – continually challenging traditional rangeland management paradigms with innovative experimental approaches to strengthen the scientific basis for rangeland management. 

Among Derner’s greatest research accomplishments is the design and implementation of the Collaborative Adaptive Rangeland Management project, which addresses multiple management objectives in collaboration with diverse regional stakeholders. This accomplishment founded on the recognition of scientific evidence, in the absence of relevant stakeholder engagement, is often insufficient to produce effective solutions to rangeland management challenges. 

Derner is the Research Leader for the Rangeland Resources and Systems Research Unit in the Center for Agricultural Resources Research at Fort Collins, Colo. He directs a multi-disciplinary research program focusing on sustainable management of social-ecological systems in semi-arid rangelands through enhancing decision making by land managers using monitoring-informed adaptive management to improve resiliency and reduce risk in a changing climate.  

Land Stewardship Award

Marji Patz received the Outstanding Achievement in Land Stewardship Award, recognizing outstanding achievement to members working with rangelands. 

Patz, ecological site specialist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Powell, is an exemplary SRM professional with a positive reputation at the regional and national level. Her passion to further the development of Ecological Site Descriptions (ESDs) is unmatched. 

She has tirelessly developed descriptions in two Major Land Resource Areas (MLRAs) while collaborating with several state and federal organizations. 

She serves on the National Ecological Site Training Team, guiding others in the use of ESDs. 

Patz is an instrumental member of Wyoming SRM where she has served for over 20 years as council member, president, treasurer, secretary, awards chair and WyRed chair. 

Patz’ kind and selfless personality combined with her skills and knowledge sets her apart from her colleagues. Her work has far-reaching impacts on rangeland stewardship. Patz serves the natural resources community by sharing her extensive knowledge through presentations at professional meetings, organizing and implementing student contests and activities, hosting field days and trainings, leading summer range camps and guest lecturing at colleges and universities. She is a natural teacher and gives of her time and knowledge freely. In this way, she has influenced the lives and careers of countless rangeland stewards. 

Dr. John Hendrickson is also a recipient for the Outstanding Achievement in Land Stewardship Award. Hendrickson grew up on a mixed crop and livestock farm in south-central Nebraska where he was active in 4-H and FFA. He graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) in 1984 with a degree in agriculture. 

After graduation, Hendrickson started working as a crop consultant with Dr. BB Singh near his hometown of Shickley, Neb. He worked as a crop consultant for three seasons and then joined the Peace Corps where he worked in the Province of Figuig in eastern Morocco. While in Morocco, he worked on several revegetation and water harvesting projects and started an herbarium. Working on the steppes of eastern Morocco got Hendrickson interested in range management. 

Upon his return to the U.S., he began a master’s program with Dr. Lowell Moser at UNL, focusing on growth staging native grass populations. After his graduation, Hendrickson started a PhD program with Dr. Dave Briske at Texas A&M evaluating persistence mechanisms in perennial grasses in mesic grasslands. 

Following his graduation in 1996, Hendrickson started as a post-doc with U.S. Department of Agriculture Research Service in Mandan, N.D. There he worked with Dr. John Berdahl on persistence of grasses and alfalfa under grazing. 

From 1998-1999, Hendrickson worked as a rangeland specialist with the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho. In 1999, he moved back to Mandan and has worked at the Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory ever since. Hendrickson’s research has encompassed integrated crop-livestock systems targeted grazing and invasive species, particularly Kentucky bluegrass. 

Early Career Award

Kaelie Pena is the recipient of the Young Professional Conclave Outstanding Early Career (YPC) Award. Pena’s leadership has led efforts to expand YPC outreach and strengthen connections between the parent society and sections, as well as recruit and maintain young professional membership within the organization. 

Pena, a rangeland management specialist in the Salmon-Challis National Forest in Idaho, serves as the chair of the Information and Education Committee of the Cal-Pac Section, as well as maintains several communication outlets for the section.

At the parent society level, she is active on numerous committees, including the Student Activities Committee and the Native American Rangeland Advisory Committee; in addition to completing a three-year leadership commitment with YPC.

Both in her career and the Society for Range Management, Pena goes above and beyond in building relationships, whether she is interacting with livestock producers and land users or other rangeland professionals and students entering the industry. 

Professional Award

Dr. Miranda Meehan is the recipient of the Outstanding Young Range Professional Award. She had a love for rangelands and ranching by the age of 13. She participated in numerous range youth camps and represented North Dakota at the SRM High School Youth Form. 

Meehan, earning a bachelor’s degree in Animal and Range Sciences and a doctorate in Natural Resource Management in 2012 from North Dakota State University, became a leader in managing rangelands and riparian ecosystems. Meehan’s passion to succeed in the field of range and natural resource management lead to her current position as the North Dakota State University Extension livestock stewardship specialist. 

She strives to educate and conduct research leading to enhancement of natural resources while improving the lives of farmers and ranchers. She creates hands on programs which are applicable and easy to understand. Her development of eight cellphone apps and 42 YouTube videos shows her ability to reach audiences of all ages, while still creating traditional educational outlets. 

Information from this article was provided by Society for Range Management. For more information, visit

Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to 

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