Well, summer has finally arrived on the northern edge of the Northern Great Plains. Our spring this year was cool and wet, which is a good start for a good season on the rangeland. The challenge in our area this year was just getting around, and all segments of agriculture were under some stress. I don’t know of a cattle operation that didn’t have some trouble with calving, nor a cropping operation that didn’t have a stuck tractor or two. Rangeland, as we all know all too well, is almost defined by variability. There is tremendous variability regionally, locally, and seasonally. One of my biggest take home advantages I get from being an SRM members is, with a bit of effort, I get to experience some of that variability; and I am fortunate to have a suite of SRM members (just as diverse as the rangeland) to act as my guide at Section and Society meetings. I seldom tire of the stories of challenge and triumph from those that work and live on the land.
Your Board of Directors have been at work on your behalf at the Society level. As we wind up for our Summer Meeting in Minneapolis (August 8 and 9) we have been meeting on a regular basis by conference call and email. The work of the Society is very much an annual cycle of changing emphasis on old and new themes. After a highly successful Annual Meeting in St. George, Utah (thanks to the hard work of the Utah Section) we turn our thoughts to our next meeting in Sparks/Reno, Nevada. It is still a little early for details, but we know the Nevada Section will put on a great meeting and provide us with countless training, learning, networking, and educational opportunities.
I’d like to bend your ear on a few points the Board is pursuing.
- President Larry Howery is engaged in updating the SRM strategic plan, and in incorporating our various committees and taskforces in that effort.
- SRM is continually engaged in advocating for rangelands and rangeland management and as the new U.S. administration gets populated, we have been there to offer science and support for continuing programs and new initiatives.
- The entire Board and staff of SRM contributed and continue to work on a member renewal program. Part of that effort is to move existing members to a single renewal date of January 1, and part is to scour our expired member list to encourage renewals from folks who have drifted on to other endeavors in their busy lives. Collectively we sent over 1900 personalized emails to expired members, and we are about to tackle and emphasize our more recently expired members.
- Our staff, in both Washington and Denver, continue to work closely with our agency partners to develop training programs for agency staff as well as SRM sponsored field trips to local areas of interest for the general membership and the public at large.
- On a specific level, we have improved the funding model for sending rancher/practitioners to our annual meeting via the Redd Fund (thanks to the Redd Foundation for their kind support), had staff representation at a wild horse information session (Lia Biondo in Maryland), and started a dialogue to increase public and agency awareness of remaining tracts of rangeland in the southeastern U.S.
After our Summer Board Meeting a few of us will journey to Washington, D.C. to experience our annual expedition to the capitol. The agenda is still in draft form, but we will continue to engage with the agencies at the national level, promote professional certification as the way to standardize program delivery and management consistency at every stop, advocate for an “International Year of the Rangeland and Pastoralists”, and renew our dialogue with our sibling societies (Society of American Foresters, Wildlife Society) on joint activities and initiatives.
If I have piqued your interest in any of these tidbits, your can find more detail in the Board minutes which are posted on the member side of our website. You are also invited to join us at any time on Board calls or any meeting of the Board. All SRM meetings are open meetings, and all SRM business is transparent, with a reasonable time frame for editing of course.
Section summer meetings will be in full swing, they are your window to local information and expertise; and it’s never too early to plan for the 2019 SRM Annual Meeting, , January 28 to February 2, 2018 at the Nugget Hotel, Sparks, NV. Personally, we will be driving; it’s the best way to see all the rangeland between two points!