Input from Wyoming ranchers and other agricultural sectors has shaped a new ranch management and leadership program launched this winter at the University of Wyoming’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The Ranch Management and Agricultural Leadership program has two approaches, one to meet the needs of students and another to meet the needs of community members already engaged in ranching and farming.
Much of the non-formal, community-based learning opportunities in this program will involve UW Extension.
The program’s acting director, Kelly Crane, said the development of the RMAL had reversed the usual process of creating a university program. Most programs begin by convening a campus committee and developing a curriculum based on existing courses and faculty expertise. The initial effort in developing this program was to listen to people across the state and region.
College staff heard from ranchers, agricultural business leaders, elected officials and ranch managers at a May 2018 summit convened by former UW President Lori Nichols at a ranch near Douglas. Another summit occurred this fall in northern Wyoming.
What was heard is that the college trains good rangeland managers, agro-industry professionals and zootechnicians.
College staff have spent the past year and a half traveling the state to listen to manpower needs in addition to those received at summits.
Crane said the college’s aspirations for the program resonated with ranchers and federal agencies.
“The workforce needs and the types of students we train in the natural resources field have really evolved,” Crane said. “They are embroiled in issues of public policy and public lands. We always hope that science will provide the answers to everything, don’t we? But this is not the case.
The problems are complex and students need professional networks to work on complex issues, he said.
Both the public option and the student option have a mandatory one-day leadership session scheduled in Casper.
For more information about the program, contact Pepper Jo Six, College of Ag & Natural Resources, Director of Development, at 307-766-4133 or [email protected]