Photo 1. The 2017/18 UA URME and Plant ID Teams with their Coaches and Advisors (Photo taken on 1/29/18 immediately before the UA URME Team took the challenging exam in Sparks, NV). Kneeling, L-R: Sarah Noelle***, Amber Ford***, Brandon Mayer** Standing, L-R: Dr. Larry Howery***, Dr. Mitch McClaran***, James Pagan*, Clara Miller**, Zach Winston*, Jodi Poole**, Amanda Sacek**, Dustin Curley**, Justin Johnson**, Josie Profy*, Alonso De La O*. * = URME Team ** = URME Team and Plant ID Team *** = Coach/Advisor
The University of Arizona Rangeland Management club is back at it again, performing at a high level at the 71st Annual International Society for Range Management (SRM) conference in Sparks, Nevada during the week of January 28th -February 2nd, 2018. A group of 11 students (see Photos 1 and 2, above) from Tierra Seca, aka The University of Arizona’s (UA’s) Rangeland Management club, attended the conference with their coaches and advisors. Students seized this opportunity to network with their fellow students and potential employers, find jobs, attend technical sessions and symposia, and to test their acumen against other students in both team and individual competitions, including the Undergraduate Range Management Exam (URME) and the Plant ID contests.
The URME tested the students’ knowledge of Range Ecology, Range Improvements, Range Inventory and Analysis, Range Regions, Grazing Management, and Multiple Use. Students on the 2017/18 URME team had been meeting during weekly 2-hour study sessions since August 2017, and their efforts were clearly rewarded! The UA URME Team placed 4th among the 25 other colleges and universities that competed on the URME at this year’s conference. In addition, the UA URME Team’s top 3 students (Justin Johnson, Zach Winston, and Brandon Mayer) each scored within the top 10% of the 200+ students who took the challenging exam, which means they earned an exemption from having to take the challenging Certified Professional of Range Management (CPRM) Exam. This year’s 4th place finish marks the 14th time since 1999 that a UA URME Team or individual has finished in the "Top 5" as a Team (typically out of ~ 25 Teams), and/or, as individuals (typically out of ~ 200 individuals). This historical record includes last year’s stellar 3rd place individual finish (out of 199 students) by the 2017/18 assistant URME Coach, Amber Ford, who is currently pursuing her master's degree at the UA.
Six of the UA URME Team competitors also pushed themselves to compete in the Rangeland Plant Identification competition (coached by Sarah Noelle), making their prowess and dedication all the more impressive. Both the Plant ID and URME tests were highly challenging -- Coaches Dr. Larry Howery, Amber Ford, and Sarah Noelle and adviser Dr. Mitch McClaran could not be prouder of this fine group of young professionals for the dedication they have all shown in studying over the past 6 months!
Photo 2. The 2017/18 UA URME and Plant ID Teams (Photo taken on 1/31/18 immediately after the UA URME Team was awarded their 4th place plaque out of 25 Teams in Sparks, NV).
Students attending the International SRM conference also had many unique and valuable opportunities to network with fellow students and seasoned professionals and to make connections for future employment, internships, and graduate school by participating in such events as: “Bridging the Gap” (an event for students to have one-on-one discussions with established professionals and mentors), employment workshops/job fairs, student social events, the Arizona Section of the SRM Social, and multiple technical sessions, workshops, symposia, and field trips. Students attended daily events on various subjects including, ecophysiology, modeling and managing invasive plant species, endangered species, inventory, monitoring, and assessment using S&T models, remote sensing, wildlife management, wild horses and burros, low stress herding and stockmanship, grazing ecology and management, fire ecology, vegetation management, restoration and reclamation, and many other subjects too numerous to mention. In total, the students attending the International SRM conference found it to be a highly valuable and productive professional experience in which future young professionals from several SNRE Programs came together as a Team to make lifelong connections and learn a wealth of new information pertaining to the profession of rangeland ecology and management.
The members of Tierra Seca are extremely grateful for the support from SNRE, CALS, Drs. Phil Ogden and Doug Tolleson, Sue Smith, Altar Valley Conservation Alliance, Pima County Farm Bureau, and the AZ Section of the Society for Range Management. Dr. Ogden, distinguished professor emeritus who worked for several decades as a Rangeland faculty member at the UA, went the extra mile and created personalized individual photos (see Photo 2) which were given to each Team member at a recent Tierra Seca meeting. Dr. Lamar Smith, another distinguished professor emeritus in the Rangeland Program at the UA (and past President of SRM) sent a heartfelt congratulatory message to each UA student and recalled how his first SRM meeting in Great Falls, MT in 1957 was an inspirational experience that he will never forget! Without the help and support of these organizations and individuals, the students would not have been able to finance their trip to Nevada and many would have been unable to attend. Every one of the students are extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the International SRM conference and partake in such an outstanding professional event to pursue their passions for the field of rangeland ecology and management. All in all, it was truly an enriching experience and we are all already looking forward to next year’s International SRM conference in Minneapolis, MN!