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Acting dean provides update on current happenings in UW CALSNR 

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

During the second day of the Green River Valley Cattlemen’s Association Meeting, held March 1-2 in Marbleton, University of Wyoming (UW) College of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources (CALSNR) Acting Dean Kelly Crane provided an update on current happenings within the college. 

Crane’s presentation covered the college’s recent reorganization, enrollment, current research and updates on Extension and the Wyoming State Vet Laboratory (WSVL).

New leadership and reorganization 

To begin, Crane informed those who were not already aware, in the past few years, UW underwent a massive reorganization which dismantled the College of Arts and Sciences. He explained physical sciences were moved to the Engineering Department and biological sciences were moved to CALSNR. 

“Notably, when this change was first announced, part of the restructuring was going to eliminate the Family and Consumer Science Department and combine ag economics with the College of Business,” he stated. “Both of those caused some panic throughout the state, but neither of them happened.”

Under this reorganization, CALSNR now houses UW’s Zoology, Physiology and Botany departments, which includes the undergraduate program for wildlife, fisheries, biology and management, as well as the majority of UW’s pre-med programs.

Crane noted the college has subsequently gained nearly 500 undergraduate students and about 50 faculty members.

“When we get everything ironed out, we will have wildlife, fisheries, range management and animal science under our roof, which I believe will make us better poised to serve the natural resources and agriculture industries in Wyoming,” Crane stated. “We will have a few growing pains, but I do think this is a good reorganization.” 

Student enrollment and undergrad programs

Next, Crane shared enrollment at UW CALSNR is remaining steady, which is good news considering the current demographic blip. 

“There just isn’t as many high school grads to choose from, which experts believe is going to last for 10 years or longer,” Crane said. “I think this, combined with the fact people are seeing less value in a college education, has simply led to fewer people going to college.” 

“Despite this, our enrollment has stayed steady across all of our programs, and it looks like we might even do some growing this next semester,” he added. 

Additionally, Crane mentioned the college’s new undergrad program – Ranch Management and Ag Leadership – which was approved last fall. 

“We are really excited about this interdisciplinary program that brings the basic knowledge of ag business management and animal science together for one degree,” he said. 

Current research 

Crane noted as part of UW’s unwavering land-grant mission, CALSNR is responsible for conducting relevant research on current issues affecting the state, and as far as research goes, the college has been very busy.

The Institute for Managing Annual Grasses Invading Natural Ecosystems (IMAGINE) has been conducting comprehensive research on three invasive annual grasses found in Wyoming – cheatgrass, ventenata and medusahead – for almost five years under the guidance of Brian Mealor, according to Crane.

“IMAGINE is doing good work to guide detection, management and control of these invasive annual grasses on a large scale,” said Crane. “We are proud of the program, and we think it will have a real impact.” 

Other ag research happening at CALSNR include a project on soil health, carbon sequestration and grazing impacts under UW Extension Rangeland Specialist Derek Scasta and Research physiology and field program studies under UW Extension Beef Specialist Shelby Rosasco. 

Crane also noted, “Our Molecular Biology Department is the most research productive department at the university, and we have one faculty member who is responsible for over three percent of the indirect costs that come to the whole university.” 

“They do a lot of basic research at the cellular and molecular level, which is important to all of us,” he added. 

UW Extension and WSVL update

Sharing knowledge gained at the university with those in the state whom it directly impacts is another pillar of UW’s land-grant mission, and Crane explained this has been best achieved through UW Extension and the WSVL.

Crane shared at this point in time, the UW Extension 4-H program is fully staffed, with one Extension educator in every county in the state, which isn’t always the case. Additionally, the program recently hired a state livestock project coordinator.

“Enrollment in 4-H is holding steady statewide, with somewhere around 6,000 youth participants and 1,500 to 1,800 registered volunteers,” he said. “UW Extension and 4-H is our most impactful program in the state.” 

Crane further noted UW Extension is preparing for its fourth year of Wyoming Ranch Camp, an intensive, hands-on training program focused on ranch and business management and livestock production. 

“Wyoming Ranch Camp helps participants get a look at how things are done in other places,” said Crane. “It has been really valuable to our students.”

In regards to the WSVL, Crane pointed out there have been a few new hires joining the team, including a new director and two new clinical pathologists. 

WSVL also hired a brucellosis chair and is in the process of interviewing several other positions, including a virologist, a bacteriologist and two more pathologists. 

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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