SPARKS, NEVADA – Over 1,600 range enthusiasts varying from agency personnel to students and ranch managers to industry professionals experienced “Change on the Range” during the Society for Range Management’s (SRM) 77th Annual Meeting in Sparks, Nevada last week.
“It was a great meeting with over 1600 attendees from a variety of rangeland professions,” newly installed SRM president Dr. Karen Hickman said. “This meeting certainly provided an excellent opportunity for attendees, both in person and virtual, to learn more about the science and art of rangeland management. And as with previous SRM Annual Meetings, it’s always great to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.”
Thanks to the presenting sponsors, the United States Forest Service (USFS), USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) the conference featured nearly 80 sessions and many sessions saw capacity crowds with attendees joining both in person and over 200 tuning in virtually via live stream.
Truly embodying this year’s theme of “change on the range” sessions covered some of the most current rangeland science and technology like virtual fencing, sustainable rangeland restoration, and carbon markets and renewable energy on rangelands. It also fostered the next generation of rangeland enthusiasts who will impact change through student networking events and a job fair in which three major land management agencies, including USFS, NRCS, and Bureau of Land Management, and a dozen private and public companies found potential future employees.
When attendees weren’t partaking in sessions or networking events, there were over 100 poster presentations to stroll through along with an extensive trade show featuring more than 50 vendors. Several tours drew participants out of The Nugget to see firsthand a wild horse and burro management area and explore the operation at Frey Ranches. Social tours were a bonus for some hoping to see Reno city highlights, breweries, and the historic Virginia City Ghost tour.
Wrapping up the four-day event was the Annual Business Meeting where new officers were installed and the much-anticipated Awards Ceremony where 13 professionals were honored and student competition winners were announced. Marking their dedication and service to rangeland science and management were the most prestigious awards with the presentation of the Frederic G. Renner Award to Dr. Karen Launchbaugh, the W.R. Chapline Land Stewardship Award to Bob McCann, and the W.R. Chapline Research Award to Dr. Brandon Bestelmeyer. The student competitions saw winners from across the globe as well with Universities from Canada and Mexico scoring top placements along with several from the United States.
SRM’s 2023 President Dr. Barry Perryman of Nevada passed the gavel to Dr. Karen Hickman of Oklahoma, and Dr. Jeff Goodwin of Texas became the 1st Vice President while Dr. John Walker, also of Texas, filled the role of 2nd Vice President. After their term of service to the Board of Directors, Delane Attcity of New Mexico and John Taylor from Brisbane, Australia, were replaced by new directors Dr. Mark Thorne of Hawaii and Dr. Kevin Sedivec of North Dakota.
“It is an honor to serve as the SRM President for 2024 and I look forward to maintaining the momentum we have in addressing several issues within the rangeland profession. One of my priorities will be to work with our fellow land management agencies to identify opportunities for us to increase the number of graduates meeting the requirements for rangeland management specialists. Also, I look forward to championing the UN’s International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists coming up in 2026. My goal is for ‘rangelands’ to be a household phrase,” President Hickman concluded.
Next February, SRM will convene in Spokane, Washington for their 78th Annual Meeting.