By Leland Sutter
Eleven students representing the student club ‘Tierra Seca” in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment (SNRE) within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) from the University of Arizona, traveled over one thousand miles to attend the 69th Annual Society for Range Management (SRM) Meeting in Corpus Christi, TX. This meeting brings together the best of all academic, government, and private entities that are involved in the management and sustainment of large landscapes that are coined rangelands. Each year, the University of Arizona sends young aspiring students to represent the mega land grant university, and each year, they are never disappointed with their results.
Following a long line of very successful teams, this year’s undergraduate members, Emilio Corella, Joey Dahms, Morgan Gourley, Jennifer Hanson, Natalya Robbins-Sherman, Josh Sutter, Leland Sutter, and Zach Winston, all proved to be worthy contestants within the Undergraduate Range Management Exam (URME). Starting at the beginning of August 2015, these students studied rangeland management and ecology for hours each week, aided by their longtime coach Dr. Larry Howery. Also worth noting, Dr. Howery now serves as First Vice President within the society and will take over as President next year. In addition to this competition, and coached by Cooperative Extension Research Specialist Sarah Noelle, three of the students, Joey, Natalya, and Zach, put in extra time to memorize two hundred plants for the plant identification contest, placing 14th internationally. Tierra Seca members also represented their club and school during the annual trade show while graduate students involved with the club presented their research at the graduate poster session. Within the society, there is an International Student Conclave which all students are encouraged to participate in. Over the past year, Joey Dahms served as Reporter for the Student Conclave. During this year’s annual meeting, he handed the reigns off to another Tierra Seca student Zach Winston, continuing the tradition of leadership from the University of Arizona chapter within the organization.
Far from the hot desert of Tucson, AZ, the coastal region of Texas proved to be quite fruitful for the University of Arizona students. Out of over two hundred contestants taking the URME, these students collectively placed third overall. In other words, out of over twenty teams representing universities from Canada, Mexico, and the United States, the University of Arizona was represented as one of the top powerhouses for rangeland studies. University of Arizona graduates can be seen within all facets of rangeland management from the state to national level. Alumni are extremely active in engaging current students and giving back to the university in which they came. Pride for their chosen profession is represented by their contributions to the community at large.
Sponsors of the 2016 team are the UA CALS Alumni Association, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Arizona Section: Society for Range Management, V Bar V Ranch, Elkhorn Ranch, Phil Ogden Fund, and the Associate Students of the University of Arizona (ASUA). Special thanks go to Dr. Mitch McClaran for help with the Phil Ogden Fund, Dr. Doug Tolleson for coordinating work and funds for students at the V Bar V Ranch, Frank Santiago for his tireless work in helping Tierra Seca and all other clubs within CALS, and masters graduate student Rachel Turner for her work in representing and helping Tierra Seca at the SRM conference.