This year, 19 students from the College of Agriculture and Bioresources travelled to Boise, Idaho to attend the SRM conference. At the conference, the students wrote the Undergraduate Range Management Exam (URME), competed in the Extemporaneous Speaking Competition, participated in the North American Plant Identification Teaching Exam, and experienced an international meeting with approximately 1500 attendees.
The USask team received a hard-earned third place finish in the URME competition against 21 other North American universities. The third-place finish was shared with the University of Alberta. After two years of attending the conference remotely, the team was determined to work hard and show up with one of the largest range teams at the conference.
Preparations for the exam start at the beginning of the university fall term. Students attend weekly study sessions, in addition to their full class loads, to learn about the latest in range ecology, grazing management, range improvements, range regions, range inventory and analysis, as well as multiple-use relationships on rangelands. Co-captains and fearless leaders Morgan Lehmann and Courtney Nell also kept the team on track through numerous fundraising events to help cover the cost of travelling to the international meeting.
Eight of the team members also chose to participate in the plant identification teaching exam, where students study a collection of 200 North American rangeland plants to be tested on 100 specimens. The teaching exam provides a supportive environment for students to expand their plant identification skills.
This hardworking and talented group of students also achieved amazing individual accomplishments. Fourth year student Courtney Taylor not only placed first in the Extemporaneous Speaking contest with her talk about prescribed fire, but she also had the great honor of being invited to speak in the plenary session on Working Across Eras. The theme of the conference this year was Rangelands Without Borders and in her talk, Taylor invited the hundreds of audience members to ‘have a conversation at her family’s kitchen table’ to provide insight into the tools needed for the next generation to be successful in their range career.
Taylor is from a ranch near Warner, Alta. and first attended SRM meetings as a delegate in the High School Youth Forum. It was there she saw the success of the USask Range Team and was first attracted to the academic programs at College of Agriculture and Bioresources.
John Paul Wasan was one of few undergraduate students providing technical talks at the meeting. He gave an engaging technical talk on Absinthe Invasion into native grasslands. Wasan’s undergraduate research was supervised by Dr. Lysandra Pyle (PhD) and Dr. Jonathan Bennett (PhD).
For more information about the USask Range Team, please contact Amanda Muller, Range Team Coach and President of Society for Range Management – Prairie Parkland Chapter, or visit http://www.rangelands.org.