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UW will have a ranching and ag bachelor’s degree starting fall 2024

An instructor kneels down in a grassy field on a sunny day with students standing around him.
David Keto
University of Wyoming
Brian Sebade, a lecturer in the UW Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, teaches a lesson on rangeland plants as part of UW Extension’s 2022 Ranch Camp at the Broadbent Ranch.

Ranching, agriculture, public lands, livestock – these are all key industries in the Cowboy State, and a new bachelor’s degree at the University of Wyoming (UW) aims to prepare students for those kinds of jobs.

The new Bachelor of Science degree at UW will be in Ranch Management and Agriculture Leadership (RMAL). It’s combining three degrees that already exist at UW – animal science, agriculture business and range land management, which are all degrees that are still available.

Randall Violett, associate director of RMAL, helped get the program going. He said they spoke with employers in the agriculture and public land worlds, who said they are looking for more well-rounded employees.

“That they know what it takes to maintain a healthy animal. They should be able to balance a balance sheet, and then they need to understand what it takes to manage range land, ecosystems and some environmental concerns,” Violett said.

Some of the upper level classes will include hands-on, problem solving out on real ranches.

“Or ask them to attend a stockgrowers meeting and then they will write a reflection paper on it,” Violett said.

He added that another large component will be conflict-resolution, so students are prepared to work with the public about public land issues, which can be very polarizing topics.

Graduates from the program could work in a whole host of different industries. Violett said that’s anything from “managing a ranch to working at a federal agency, like the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM), or working in the agriculture sector in terms of finances or ag business types of things as well.”

Violett said the hope is to keep more young people in Wyoming and to have them take on generational ranches.

The first cohort will start in fall 2024.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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