A success beyond the planning committee’s wildest dreams, the 18th Annual Rangelands Partnership (RP) meeting was held via Zoom for two full days on March 30th and 31st. More than 40 participants representing range scientists, ag/science librarians, and IT specialists from the 19 western land-grant university member collaboration were actively engaged through facilitated discussions, polls, and breakout rooms in a well-choreographed event. Special welcomes were given by Barbara Petty, University of Idaho Director of Extension and the Partnership’s Administrative Advisor for this WERA Multistate Research & Extension project, and Jerry Perry, Associate Dean of the University of Arizona Libraries. Also welcoming the membership were University of Arizona (UA) CALS Associate Dean and Director of Extension, Jeffrey Silvertooth, who provided a video tour of Arizona’s rangelands, and CALS Director of the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, John Koprowski, who gave participants a virtual look into the award-winning ENR2 building. While RP members were disappointed not to be able to gather in person and enjoy Tucson’s amiable spring climate, they rose to the occasion with creativity and enthusiasm.
With only a few days’ notice, state teams prepared voice-over PowerPoint reports summarizing their year’s rangelands Extension programming and library activities, particularly noting special projects and innovative approaches. Viewing these reports ahead of time allowed participants to focus on discussion and Q&A when they were “together”. Other highlights included a panel session: Communication with Purpose: Science for Society Panel with speakers Theresa Crimmins (USA National Phenology Network), Elise Gornish (SNRE), and Rosemary Brandt (UA CALS Media Relations). Presentations were also given on the Natural Resource Users Law and Policy Center (NRULPC) and Clinic by George Ruyle (SNRE) and Priya Sundareshan (College of Law). Dr. Leslie Roche (UC Davis), gave a dynamic and thought-provoking keynote address: Socio-Ecological Systems – Emphasizing the Human Dimension. All sessions were recorded and will soon be available on the RP member site.
Members also engaged in the business of the Partnership, a demonstration of the soon to be launched RP Rangelands Gateway; Action Group reports and breakout sessions (social media/marketing, collection development, and sustainability/membership); a report on international activities including the status on gaining a UN-designated International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists; and funded project reports and sessions including the RREA Webinar Series and the NRCS CIG Grazingland Information System.
The meeting Planning Committee from the UA (Amber Dalke, Barb Hutchinson, Sheila Merrigan, Sarah Noelle, and Jeanne Pfander) and the RP Executive Committee (Retta Bruegger (Colorado State), Livia Olsen (Kansas State) and Krista Elhert (South Dakota State) were gratified with the turnout and level of engagement. Meeting sponsors included: The Kemper and Ethel Marley Endowment for Sustainable Rangeland Stewardship and The University of Arizona Libraries.