CSU a strong presence at annual state rangeland meeting

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The Colorado Section of the Society for Range Management acknowledged the hard work of Colorado State University rangeland stewards with many honors at their November meeting in Palisade, Colorado this year. A range of stewards from students to alumni were on hand to participate and receive recognition.

Student attendance at the event was record-breaking said Paul Meiman, an associate professor in the Forest and Rangeland Stewardship department. He, along with 11 current students attended the annual conference. Meiman is also the faculty advisor for the Rangeland Ecology Student Club, of which nearly all of the students are members. He was pleased with their engagement.

“This level of student interest was genuine and the grassroots campaign to attend the conference came from the students themselves,” he said. “This is a great example of our students’ dedication to their programs and careers.”

Sarah Levane serves as president of the Rangeland Ecology student club this year. She said meeting one-on-one was integral in getting new students there.

“A great group of club officers put time into meeting and talking to fellow students as well as working together to chip in for everyone to go,” she added.

Levane was also one of three undergraduate CSU students who received scholarships the Society chapter offers annually. She was awarded Outstanding Junior/Senior, with an additional scholarship presented to senior Cody Mortell.

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From left: Paul Meiman, Cody Mortell, Sarah Levane, Lee Goertznowsky ((Photo courtesy of USDA-NRCS, Sterling Field Office)

The scholarship award for CSSRM Outstanding Freshman/Sophomore/Recent Transfer Student went to Lee Goertznowsky. Goertznowsky is a first-semester transfer student who has jumped right into the program. She is excited to be part of a field that builds on her connection of growing up among the grasslands of Kansas.

“I believe conserving and properly managing these lands is important to the ecological health and cultural connections of humankind,” she said. “I hope through my career that I can contribute to keep western landscapes open for future and current generations to appreciate.”

Ph.D. student Jake Courkamp was the most experienced attendee, having attended the state meeting last year as well as the general society’s international conference earlier this year. Having already worked on various projects in the field, he was excited to hear new results about work he’s assisted with.

“As an undergraduate student, I donated time helping to build rock structures in stream channels to slow down water and stop erosion in a Gunnison valley meadow,” he remarked. “It takes a while to start seeing and understanding the effects, and the data are starting to show that these structures are working.”

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Paul Meiman accepts the publication award for CSU alumna Crystal Tipton. (Photo courtesy of USDA-NRCS, Sterling Field Office)

Rangeland alumni and faculty also received recognition for their professional work in the field. Alumna Crystal Tipton along with co-authors and FRS faculty members, Troy Ocheltree and María Fernández-Giménez, received the CSSRM Outstanding Publication Award.

Alumna Hailey Wilmer was chosen as the CSSRM Outstanding Young Range Professional. She is currently a Fellow with both the USDA-ARS Rangeland Resource and Systems Research Unit, and the Northern Plains Climate Hub.

See a new video Wilmer helped produce for the USDA-ARS here.

The next international Society for Range Management meeting will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota in February 2019. Meiman expects even more CSU representation with additional rangeland students planning to make the cross country journey to represent their field.