The students enrolled in our distance education program choose this option for many reasons, including their established roots in other parts of the country. See their individual profiles for details about each of them.
Distance Education Students
For me, lifelong learning is the motto that guides me. After completing a 26 year career as a fire fighter, I choose to continue my educational goals and complete graduate studies, but I was unsure of what program best met my needs. When I found the WCIRM with a combination of challenging courses and the flexibility of online and concentrated course schedules, it was obvious to me this was the program I had been searching for.
While still working as a fire fighter, I moved my family seven years ago out of the city and began ranching in the foothills of California, raising Alpacas. Quickly it became clear to me that animal agriculture would be the focus of the rest of my life. During high school, agriculture and FFA were major focus points for me, and I was considering a career as an Ag instructor. This was not meant to be at this point in my life, and I joined the fire service as a fire fighter and paramedic. Growing up in a small California community with a strong farming base, I always had agriculture on my mind. The challenges presented in raising Alpacas gave me the reason to again focus on agriculture.
I want be part of the development of Alpacas as a sustainable livestock breed in American agriculture and utilize the skills learned in the IRM program to make this happen. I look forward to a second career in animal agriculture and using the tools gained through this program to prepare me to meet the challenges presented.
The thing that attracted me most to the IRM program was the ease and convenience of taking a course while I continue to work in current job as a Natural Resource Instructor at a small college located on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. I am also quite pleased with the course offerings and how they can benefit small cattle operations to streamline what these operations do well and help identify what they can improve on. What I hope to get out of my time here is a Master's degree first and foremost, secondly I hope to get knowledge and expertise to allow my in-laws’ cattle operation in business until my kids decide to go to work for my in-laws. My career goals are to obtain my master's degree and maybe a Ph.D., and continue to teach at Fort Belknap College, but I would also like to help the tribal entities that deal with cattle and land management to make good decisions. I would also like to do some consulting. I am an enrolled member of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. I am a Nakoda (Assiniboine), I have 4 children and I feel as though my life has been enriched with each child my wife has brought into the world. I like to hunt and fish, with all outdoor activities being an interest of mine.
I became aware of Colorado State’s IRM program through two co-workers who achieved their masters by attending the on-campus courses. Both individuals spoke so highly of the program, I decided to research the online educational opportunities the IRM program could offer me in my present position and in the development of future career goals.
Through my present job, I have become increasingly involved in policies and agenda issues involving many aspects concerning Wyoming Ag producers and those relating to government entities. I have found this to be a challenging yet stimulating part of my job. It is my hope that through the education I gain via the IRM program I not only stay involved in this line of work but become more of a benefit to Wyoming agriculture
Presently I’m employed by the Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA), as the Agricultural Program Coordinator to the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI). The WLCI’s mission is to be a long-term science based undertaking assessing, enhancing and protecting aquatic and terrestrial habitats at a landscape scale in six Southwestern Counties in Wyoming. The WLCI also has the goal of informing the responsible development of natural resources within these Counties, for the sustainability of Wyoming’s diverse wildlife and agricultural communities.
The past two and a half years, working in my present position have been very rewarding and I have had many unforeseen outcomes and opportunities. In December of 2009, I was awarded a Citizen’s Award for Exceptional Service from the U.S. Department of the Interior for accomplishments and contributions due to my role and involvement within the WLCI. In July of 2010, I had the opportunity and honor of presenting, on behalf of the WLCI Program, to the Congressional Sub-Committee on Natural Resources in Washington D.C.
On a more personal note, for the past 15 years I’ve operated a ferries service in southwestern Wyoming. So I’m not afraid of hard work.
I am currently managing a ranch in central Montana. After a few years of working as an Ag Loan Officer and trying to build a commercial cow/calf operation of my own, it became apparent that the structure of ranch ownership was changing and presenting some unique opportunities. With real estate prices burgeoning, the prospect of managing a ranch and building a herd from within was an alternative I saw as possible for a young producer given the right opportunity. I got the opportunity and started managing this ranch. I began making changes to improve range conditions and profitability using ideas that were not traditionally used in the area, such as year long grazing. I also had to manage ownership goals in terms of recreation, wildlife, aesthetics, and ROI while ensuring relationships with managers of our state and federal leases. Further education that takes into consideration all these aspect would surely be beneficial to provide a sustainable plan for the future. I began looking for a graduate degree program that combined sound animal and land management principles with advanced business and management education while still permitting me to continue working and providing for my family. When I found the Colorado State University IRM program by chance three years later, it only took me a moment to realize that the program was going to pave the way for future land and ranch managers and I wanted to be a part of that future. I plan on utilizing this program’s education to provide sustainability to this ranch and move it into the future for the benefit of all parties involved, including the rural community in which it is located. I also would like to increase my commercial cow herd and eventually start providing private consultation to current or future land owners. The IRM program will provide me with a solid foundation which I can rely on to help facilitate the process of achieving these goals.
I am married, and have two energetic little boys. I grew up in Wellsville, Utah, where I have always had an interest in ranching and the lifestyle it provides. In 2005 I graduated from Utah State University, with a Bachelors of Science in Animal Science and a minor in Agribusiness. Since that time, I have worked on ranches in western Nebraska and Montana. In the last five years I have been able to continue my learning through working on various ranches. It has been interesting working at different locations and seeing how ranching principles apply to different operations and climates. I love to learn, so when a mentor of mine introduced me to the IRM program, I thought this would be a great opportunity to expand my learning, and open further opportunities. My long term goals are to manage a ranch, and be able to raise my family in an environment that I love.
I am originally from the great state of Iowa, where I was born and raised. I transferred as a sophomore to CSU to take up Equine Science. I had taught horseback riding lesson at the beginner and intermediate level for a few years and decided that teaching was my avenue. So I enrolled in the Agricultural Education program at CSU. I graduated in the fall of 2008 with Bachelors in Equine Science and Agricultural Education.
I joined the Agricultural Extension Education program in the spring of 2009 to broaden knowledge base and give myself the opportunity to work in Extension. My passion is spreading the knowledge of agriculture to K-12 students. I currently teach agricultural education in a very rural town on the I-70 corridor called Agate. I enjoy my job and love working with kids, however I have spent several summers working for county Extension offices and I think I would love that even more. I reach out to a broader ground of students who don’t understand what agriculture is or what the industry does for our country. Kids don’t grasp that beef comes from a cow and pork comes from pigs. I would like to teach those kids that chocolate milk does not come from a chocolate cow.
I decided to enroll in the IRM course because I feel that any additional information or knowledge would benefit me in Extension. Even if my goal is working in 4-H and youth development, I need to be knowledgeable on a vast range of agricultural topics and concerns. This course will bring me one step closer to being fluent in my future aspirations.
I was raised on a dry land cropping and livestock operation at Brady, Nebraska. Brady is located in the Southeast corner of the Nebraska Sand Hills. My parents later moved to Greeley, Colorado where I completed high school. I received my bachelor's degree in Animal Science/Industries Management from Colorado State University. Upon completion of my degree, I was employed with a registered Hereford/yearling operation in Wyoming before returning to Colorado. For the next nine years, I worked as a farm laborer on two locations in Southeast Colorado. At the last location in the Sheridan Lake area, the farm sold and I was hired by the new (absentee) owners to oversee the operation which consisted of dry land cropping and yearling wheat pasture cattle. A career change was then made when I accepted a position with Pueblo Community College to teach Farm and Ranch Management in the Colorado Department of Correction facilities at Canon City, Colorado. After termination of the position by Corrections, I return to my wife's family farm. For the next ten years, I worked with my in-laws dry land cropping and cow/calf operation in Southeast Colorado. Nine years ago I was hired to fill the Colorado State University Extension position in Kiowa County. I currently serve as the Range and Livestock contact for seven counties in Southeast Colorado. During my employment with CSU Extension, I have been awarded the Achievement award by the Colorado Association of Extension 4-H Agents (CAE4HA), National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA), the Colorado County Agents Association, and the National Association of County Agriculture Agents, the Distinguished Service award by CAE4HA, and been a member of a team that received the Colorado State University Extension Team Award for Excellence. Currently I am a co-leader of the CSU Beef Team, a member of the Colorado Livestock Task Force, a member of the Extension Disaster Education Network, and a member of the Colorado Rapid Response for Agriculture and Livestock. During my time with Extension, I have had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of agriculture producers. Frustrations arise when I see producers calving during the coldest time of year, grazing the same pasture every year with sometimes ever increasing number of cattle, or feeding hay for six months of the year. They then complain about how hard they have to work and/or the lack of return on their input investment. When asked why not change what you are doing, the comment is, "well that is when we have always done it, why would be change!" I believe this program will prepare and equip me to aid producers in making more informed analysis of their operations. My second goal is to make myself more marketable, not just personally but for Colorado State University as well. In 2002, my wife and I sold our small herd of cows. Part of that decision was made because of severe drought; another part was related to family issues. It may have been, and probably was, the correct decision, although very hard to make. I believe this quote attributed to Henry Ford expresses my decision to join the IRM program the best. “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
I grew up on a diversified family farm just outside of Baxter, Iowa. We had a cattle feeding operation, a cow-calf herd, a group of sows, far too many sheep, and Dad always kept a mule and a horse or two around. The farm also produced corn, soybeans, alfalfa, grass hay, oats and occasionally a few acres of wheat. As central Iowa really has no significant market for wheat, I always suspected Dad raised it just to keep the neighbors talking. Today, the family farm feels like a mere shadow of what it had been. Dad still keeps a few cows but the crop land has been rented out. His equine mini-mob has expanded to include donkeys. I think this is his modern day strategy to keep the neighbors talking. During the fall and winter months, Dad and Mom manage a membership hunting preserve on the home place.
I attended Iowa State University for a year and half. Then I dropped out. I told Dad that they were training me to be either a feed salesman or an Extension agent, and I was not interested in either career (watch for the future irony). I worked for my grandfather’s farm for several years after that. He raised corn & hay crops, as well as having a cow herd and a cattle feeding operation. While working for Grandpa, I became very involved as a volunteer with my home town’s fire department and rescue squad. I also decided to rent a farm of my own during this time. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other ideas for my future and turned my enterprise into a lake. This made for a good excuse to seek additional employment. It came as a professional EMT.
Finally, I was talked into returning to Iowa State in 1996. As a non-traditional Animal Science student, I excelled. The professor who talked me into returning, Dr. Gene Rouse, gave me a job helping with his carcass ultrasound research. He also gave me the chance to student teach, which allowed me to discover how much I enjoy teaching.
My next move was to a beef solutions company based out of Florida. I did feed and technology research and training in feedlots and packing plants all across the country. After tiring of the constant travel, I spent some time as a feed salesman in Nebraska. (Here’s the irony.) Once again, Dr. Rouse stepped in and convinced me to go to school. I moved to Oregon and studied ruminant nutrition under two great professors.
Armed with my shiny, new MS degree, I moved to Georgia and took up the role of Meat Animal Evaluation Coach. I enjoyed the coaching and teaching classes but the politics within the department were not for me. This led me to the next irony in my life. I became the “County Extension Agent” in Virginia’s Pulaski County. I really enjoyed the job, but not the location. After three years in that role, I landed my current position. I am the Area Livestock Extension Agent for the Golden Plains Area of Colorado. I serve the seven northeastern counties of the state and I get to focus my efforts on livestock production. It is a career and a location that I really like.
The appreciation that I have for my career is probably what has allowed me to feel comfortable enough to start a PhD in the IRM program. There are two goals that I have for my experience in the IRM program. First, I hope to gain a better understanding of range management and business management. My animal science degrees provided very little in either of these area. My believe is that the IRM program can bolster my knowledge base in these two areas and make me a stronger asset for my clientele. My second goal is more personal. I hope to gain knowledge about wildlife management and how ranching, livestock, and wildlife interact.
Michelle Hammond Urain
I am a fifth generation Northern Nevadan, whose family ranched this area for over 100 years. I grew up on my family’s ranches just North of Winnemucca, Nevada. At an early age, I developed a very strong interest in agriculture. I learned the importance of creating a profitable operation, as well as working with the land to maintain a sustainable production model. I worked on the ranch my entire childhood and teenage years. With my family selling our holdings in 1999, I moved on to college and started a family of my own. I know that my future has always been in agriculture and livestock production. My goal has been to find a way outside of my family’s ranch to pursue my passion.
I attended Great Basin College, receiving my Bachelor of Arts in Integrative and Professional Studies in Natural Resource Management, as well as a second degree in Social Science. While attending GBC, I received the UCCSN Board of Regent’s Scholar Award and the Outstanding Student Award in my program.
Once obtaining my undergraduate degree, I accepted a professional position at Great Basin College as the Interactive Video Coordinator. The primary function of this job was to maintain the interactive video scheduling for distance education at numerous campuses across the state. I then went on to work for a non-profit 501c3 organization, Frontier Community Coalition, as the Executive Director. While at this job, I managed multiple government grants, worked as a liaison in the community and developed substance abuse prevention programs in our tri-county area.
Currently, I am employed with the Winnemucca Convention and Visitors Authority, as the Marketing and Sales Coordinator. This multi-faceted position has included everything from developing, implementing and tracking marketing and promotional materials to coordinating events to promote local tourism. One such event is our Winnemucca Ranch Hand Rodeo Weekend. My responsibilities include coordinating and promoting our horse sale, bull sale, dog trials, and horse show, as well, as the overall marketing and sponsorship of the event.
In addition to my job, I am an extremely active citizen in the community. Over the last five years, I have held numerous leadership positions with local service groups and have participated in overall community growth and development. I currently serve as the Board Chair of the Winnemucca Domestic Violence Services organization, and I am the Assistant Governor for Rotary District 5190
Since completing my undergraduate work, I have been searching for a graduate program that would compliment my previous studies, as well as allow me to continue to raise my family in the community I call home. The IRM program appeals to me because of its all-encompassing nature. Integrated Resource Management takes into account all the factors that affect agriculture production and management, focusing on overall sustainability. Through my undergraduate work, I found a very strong appreciation of this concept. I was extremely pleased when I came across a similarly focused graduate program. Today’s world requires us to take into account the multi-use philosophy of our society. In addition to this, the ability to carry out my studies while maintaining my current employment and location is essential. I also think there are very strong benefits in collaborating with students and faculty from different regions who can provide varying insights to the issues that we address through these studies.
Ideally, I would eventually like to manage my own cattle ranch. That is where my heart is. However, realistically I believe this degree will provide me with the knowledge to work in a variety of agriculture related disciplines. I believe that this program not only would provide me with additional knowledge to increase my employability, but I also believe it will provide me with a stronger foundation to represent and advance agriculture in our society.
I was born and raised on my family’s commercial cattle ranch in the Great Basin of California, near the Nevada and Oregon border, where we raise Angus cattle for Harris Ranch Beef Company and grow grass hay. Last winter, I graduated from Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo with a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Business. During summer and since graduation, I have worked on the family ranch doing the day-to-day work. I truly enjoy the challenges and rewards of being a full time rancher.
College was a great experience. Upon completion of my undergraduate work, I wanted to continue my education and get a masters degree; however, I liked being home on the ranch, and my labor was needed by my parents. Consequently, I searched online for a program that would give me the flexibility to do both and found the Integrated Resource Management program at Colorado State University. What attracted me to the IRM program was the curriculum and the opportunity to attend a university like CSU. Every course required by the program is a class that I would have taken as an elective as an undergraduate and each course is relevant to what I am currently doing and want to do in the future.
My career goal is to be able to make a living from the family ranch. Even though I have seen the hard work my parents and other ranchers do every day, there is nothing more appealing to me than being part of the beef industry. I feel this program will make me a better steward of the land, a more successful businessman, and a better cattleman.
I was born and raised in the rural area of the four corners and currently reside in La Plata, New Mexico. In high school, I was an active FFA member at both the local and state levels, which gave me a foundation and deep appreciation for the hard work and dedication of American agriculture. With that appreciation and love for great food, along with a bit of determination, I left to attend the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont. In 2003 I graduated with a degree in culinary arts and began working closely with local growers and ranchers throughout New England to create menus around fresh products. Later I traveled around the Western United States working in San Francisco, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Denver, Durango and Ouray Colorado working in various positions as a chef. In each location I found an even greater admiration for the different agricultural practices, methods and applications. Over the years my preferences shifted to a more sustainable business system and as well as to more localized products. Later, I returned to Durango, Colorado to obtain a Bachelors degree from Fort Lewis College. I graduated with a degree in Sustainable Agriculture and a minor in Small Business Administration and Entrepreneurship, in which I focused heavily on environmental and agricultural economics, policy and business. Along my journey I have learned an enormous deal of appreciation for proper land stewardship, respect for biodiversity and the necessary sustainability of the American agricultural system.
I am currently working for New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service as well as managing a small production farm. The farm maintains a flock of 30 dual purpose sheep, 100 heritage breed chickens, a vermiculture system and a large market garden. The market garden is modeled after the raised bed system utilized in Havana, Cuba where I did my Bachelors research. I wish to continue my career with Extension or pursue a future in agricultural business and economic policy through the USDA. The Integrated Resource Management program at Colorado State University is ideal for my lifestyle and overall career goals. I chose this particular program because of the variety of classes and focus, not only business but overall resource management. I have come to appreciate the individualized curriculum through the IRM program as well as the convenience of the distance education program which allows me to further my education while maintaining my current way of life.
Kathryn "Ryn" Keatley
When Colorado State’s Online Plus Master of Agriculture Integrated Resource Management popped up in my grad school search, I knew I had found the program for me. I live in western Wisconsin and I thoroughly enjoy the confused look on peoples’ faces when I tell people that I am a grad student at Colorado State. Since making mud pies, helping Mom in the vegetable garden, and playing with toads as a little rug rat, I have had a love of Nature and her many gifts. I have been working on a local organic dairy farm, part of Organic Valley Cooperative, for the past four years raising calves, milking cows, keeping records, and many other of the zillions of tasks that make a dairy farm run smoothly. I also work at a strawberry patch, a blueberry patch, have my own gardening and landscaping business, and, of course, we still have our big family veggie patch. All of these fabulous experiences have cemented my respect for and adoration of Nature and my desire to help protect her amazing resources.
I earned my undergraduate degrees in Economics and French in May 2012 from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. As a Master of Agriculture- Integrated Resource Management, I plan to use my economic knowledge to manage the allocation of natural resources in an environmentally conscious manner without asking the resource owners to cut production or lose profits, thus developing a sustainable agricultural system. By combining economic models and environmental conservation in a research setting, I can find and share evidence to help resource owners understand and utilize sustainable agriculture practices. I am currently enjoying my first IRM class regarding global agriculture and the challenges we face. This is just the first of many eye-opening courses that are part of this program and already I know that I want to use my knowledge to help both domestic resource owners and international resource owners understand and employ sustainable procedures.
The innovative online program allows me to keep my hands and knees dirty in my agricultural and horticultural endeavors in Wisconsin while being a part of the wonderful CSU system and working with the amazing CSU faculty and staff. Not to mention, no one minds if I come to class with dirty fingernails!
I am a fifth generation commercial cow/calf rancher from Sunol, a small town in Northern California. The ranch has been in our family since 1918, and we do our best to not only maintain but to enhance the environment for the livestock and wildlife. At home we carry out many practices such as water systems and solar powered pumps to improve animal distribution. We also have two mitigation sites protecting endangered species. My older brother and I grew up hunting critters with sustaining rangeland health in mind, which has given me a unique perspective on the outcome of proper management.
When I was eight years old, my dad bought five registered Hereford cows for my brother and me to start our own herd. I knew then that raising cattle is something I would always do. I grew up raising and showing livestock for 4-H and FFA, which allowed me to go on and receive my American Farmer Degree in Louisville, Kentucky in 2005.
I was accepted to the University of Nevada, Reno to study Range Management but many of the classes I needed were only being offered every few years or on the cutting block. I transferred to California State University, Fresno in 2006 to become an animal science major. I worked at the CSU Fresno San Joaquin Experimental Range while attending school. The range runs a couple hundred cows and as an employee I was able to work with the United States Forest Service along with many scientists, students, and researchers. Upon graduation from Fresno State, I was hired on with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service for a one year position as a Soil Conservation Technician.
A culmination of ranching experience, a little education and a year of natural resource work under my belt left me ambitious for more. That is when I ran across the Integrated Resource Management program. I am excited to get started with the CSU IRM program because it will allow me to stay at home on the family ranch to help my folks and build my registered Red Angus heard while continuing my education.
My career goal is to raise quality cattle for commercial cattlemen. Raising cattle is my passion and land stewardship is an imperative part of that. I am eager to take each course offered in the IRM program because they are all useful and interesting classes that will supplement my business management skills and help me become more of an asset to the agriculture industry.
Bareback, galloping as fast as my pony could go across the hay meadow is one of my fondest childhood memories! My family vacationed at a dude ranch in Sheridan, Wyoming each summer during my childhood, and it was there that I was able to experience the thrill of running free and fast. Sheridan, Wyoming is a beautiful town steeped in history encompassing both horses and ranching. As a young child, I fell in love with this beautiful area. Many years later, I found the opportunity to relocate to Sheridan. I have been in Sheridan for three years now, and it has opened my eyes to wonderful opportunities and experiences.
I’m currently a riding instructor. I grew up riding horses in Pony Club, and earned the “A level” rating. In 1999, I graduated from the Equine Science program at Colorado State University, and shortly thereafter went into teaching and training. During my time in Sheridan, I have had the amazing opportunity to work and teach for a therapeutic riding program. Teaching there prompted me to earn my certification as a therapeutic riding instructor through the NARHA organization. Currently, I am working with the community college here in Sheridan to create an Equine Science Program.
Teaching brought me to Sheridan, and I hope it will keep me here. I love teaching riding, but I wanted more, so I began to purse my educational options. I am delighted to be a part of the Integrated Resource Management Program! This degree seems to bring many of my interests and abilities together. With this degree I hope to develop my teaching skills, and gain the ability to work with individuals that want to maintain and improve ranching and production in this beautiful area.
I grew up on a farm north of Fort Collins where we grew corn, dry beans, malt barley, and sugar beets. I attended Colorado State University and received my undergrad in Ag Extension Education. I was in the first group to graduate in this field from CSU. After graduation, I got a job with a sugar beet seed company in the research department. After a few years doing research and helping the plant breeders in the seed industry, I decided to return and get my masters degree. After being in the program for a year, I took a job with Western Sugar as an agriculturist, and moved to Nebraska. At that time, I basically gave up on getting a masters degree. After spending four years in Nebraska, my wife and I were transferred to northeastern Colorado. We move to Holyoke, Co, and I worked with the beet growers in the northeast corner of Colorado and southwest Nebraska. While in Holyoke, we had two wonderful girls who are now 7 and 4 years old. A few years ago, we decided to change companies, and I started to work for Michigan Sugar as an agriculturist in the Saginaw Valley of Michigan. I really enjoy being an agriculturist and working with sugar beet growers to raise the best and most profitable crop they can.
While searching the internet, I discovered that Colorado State was offering the Master of Ag program online and this gave me new hope on finally finishing the program I started many years ago. Getting my masters will help me move up in Michigan Sugars organization. With the addition of the IRM classes to the program, I hope to learn more of the leadership and business aspects. This would help me as a manager dealing with employees and budgets as I move up in the company. I have never looked at this program as just an Extension program but one that can help any student in the Ag field who is dealing with people. I have found that people skills are the most important thing to have in the business world.
I am from Laredo, Texas. Yes, the closest town to the border. I can literality walk three blocks and reach bridge one to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico from my back porch. I am Hispanic, and I grew up in a strict, Catholic home with one older brother. Growing up, I raised and bred poultry and the outcome was seven grand champions out of ten years of participation. I am currently a student at Texas A&M Kingsville finishing my undergraduate in Animal Science. I took an international animal science course last year that introduced me to sustainable farming, along with the Heifer Project International (HPI) Program. I found my motivation and plan to pursue my career goal as an animal manager. The HPI program is a well known non-profit organization working in developing countries alleviating poverty. HPI introduces micro livestock as a means to earn income and to ultimately become self-sufficient. Ultimately, I want to accomplish my definition of success where I integrate my animal science background along with my future management skills and become an important managing assist to the HPI program. I want to be able to help people not necessarily change their managing techniques or their culture but help them better understand how change can be a good choice. I think that the IRM program can give me the extra edge to become a successful manager.
I am originally from a small farming community in Turlock, California. I grew up on 10 acres where my siblings and I were very involved in riding and showing our horses, and backpacking with our llamas. My father was a large animal veterinarian who specialized in dairy cattle, and as a child I used to accompany him to the local dairies when he made his calls. I also spent many of my summers on my uncle’s dairy, where I helped with many of the chores around the farm.
I received a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Franciscan University of Steubenville, located in Steubenville, Ohio. After graduating nursing school, I joined the military and spent four years on active duty in the Army Nurse Corps. My first duty station was Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where I eventually specialized in Emergency Nursing. I deployed to Baghdad, Iraq for a year, and after returning to Texas, I was transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia. In 2008, I decided to separate from active duty, and I transitioned into the South Carolina Army National Guard, which I am actively involved in to this day. I currently live in Augusta Georgia, where I continue to work as an ER nurse at Eisenhower Army Medical Center.
When I decided to pursue a master’s degree, I made the decision to study something that I had always been interested in but never had the opportunity to pursue. Growing up in the country and spending so much time with animals has always made me want my own ranch. I began doing some research in my spare time on ranching and I quickly realized I had quite a bit to learn, particularly about running a business. When I found the IRM program, it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for; it is the perfect combination of business and agriculture courses. I am very excited to be in this program and I’m hoping to expand my knowledge in the agricultural world, as well as gain a strong foundation in managing a business.
I currently serve as an officer in the US Army at Fort Knox, KY. Recently, I returned from a deployment in Afghanistan though I also served in Iraq and Kosovo since graduating from the University of Colorado in 1999 with a degree in Political Science. In 2004 I left the Army and began working with the US Fish & Wildlife Service as a Refuge Law Enforcement Officer on national wildlife refuges in southern Indiana. Working as a Refuge Officer allowed me to pursue my passion of wildlife and habitat conservation while also exposing me to the complexities involved in managing land for a variety of purposes.
In 2007, while working as a Refuge Officer, I volunteered to return to active duty and serve in Iraq. After returning from Iraq I felt a strong desire to do something productive where I could dedicate my efforts to caring for, and improving, some small neglected piece of earth. My wife and I purchased a 112 acre “farm” in Madison, IN were we’ve since completely remodeled the house and are now beginning to rehabilitate the land which suffers from erosion and past abuse. It has been the process of working and learning about my land, and how to improve it, that sparked my interest in agriculture and how it can used to promote healthy environments.
I will leave the army in 2013 and return to my position as a Refuge Officer. In the interim, I decided to increase my knowledge of agriculture and land management which led me to Colorado State and the Master of Agriculture – IRM degree. While participating in this program I am looking forward to learning how to apply systems thinking to manage a small, sustainable farm enterprise that balances productivity and ecosystem health. During my enrollment I plan on applying lessons learned directly to my farm and putting my knowledge to immediate use. Long-term, I hope to apply my experience and education to promote small-scale, sustainable (i.e., diversified) farming as a means to provide income and promote environmental conservation.
Unlike many of the students who have gone through the IRM program, I do not come from a traditional farming/ranching background (family farm/ranch). I do, however, feel that I have a strong background in ranching and livestock production, which came from helping out family members (uncles, cousins, etc.) on their farms and ranch operations near my childhood home. From this I developed a love for the agricultural lifestyle, and I am very passionate about preserving that lifestyle for future generations.
That is what initially attracted me to the IRM program, a passion for the preservation of the way of life many of us have either been born into, or have come to know and love. There are some people in this world who would like to see cattle grazing on public lands stopped because they feel that the livestock are doing harm to the natural processes of the ecosystem. In some cases, this may be true. But, in many instances, livestock grazing is beneficial to the health of the ecosystem, provides a valuable commodity in the form of beef to feed the people of the United States and abroad, and it also provides a source of income to aid in the growth and sustainability of local economies.
From this passion, I hope to preserve the agricultural way of life and to spread and enrich the quality of knowledge of those who wish to bring about the cessation of public land grazing. I feel that the best way to pursue this career goal is to attain employment with public land management agency, such as the BLM, USFS, or with an extension agency.
Prior to entering into the IRM program, I have had many different adventures and opportunities. To start off, I went back to college and obtained my Bachelor of Science degree from Chadron State College (CSC) in Range Management with an emphasis in Range Livestock Production. During my time at CSC, I worked very hard to get my GPA back to where it needed to be, and my hard work paid off. Every semester during my career at CSC I was fortunate enough to have my name appear on either the Dean's List or the President's List while attending CSC. I also had a unique opportunity to become involved with prescribed fire through my Range Professor Dr. Charles Butterfield. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to assist with many different prescribed fires and to be a part of a great team on the ignitions side of the operation. Following graduation from CSC, I accepted a job on a moderate sized ranch in Kyle, South Dakota. I worked in the capacity of ranch manager for three months before the isolation of the ranch became too much for my wife to handle, and in her own words told me "WE ARE MOVING". From South Dakota, we moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming where I have been employed by the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments. In this position, I was able to use my college education, and assist ranchers with all sorts of issues dealing with grazing management, forage production, soils, and hydrology to name a few.
That brings me to the here and now. I am no longer working for the State Land Office, since that job required extensive travel across the State of Wyoming. I am now working for the City of Cheyenne, I am a member of Laramie County Fire District #2 as a volunteer firefighter, I have an open Fire Fighter 1 and Incident Commander Type 5 Position Task Books so that I gain qualifications for those positions with the National Wildfire Coordinators Group.
I was raised in Bayfield, Colorado. At a young age my dad had no problem “hiring me out” as a hand to local ranchers. This instilled a strong work ethic in me. Anyone who knows me would say I am one of the hardest workers they have ever known. I built houses so that I could pay my way at Adams State College in Alamosa, Colorado. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Organismal Biology. After college, I set out on a series of adventures that included playing semi-professional rugby, hotshot firefighting in Alaska, logging, breaking horses and working as a range technician for the forest service. Two years ago, I started a career as a research associate for Colorado State University. I work at the San Juan Basin Agricultural Research Station in Hesperus, Colorado. My varied background interested me in the different aspects of land and product management. My work experiences have allowed me to work with many different people. These experiences have given me the privilege to gather various perspectives on land management. This is what attracted me to the Integrated Resource Management Program. The program is a great opportunity for me to tie together much of what I have learned over the years. I plan on using my education to progress the research I am currently involved with in Hesperus. I would like to further my education and use my knowledge to improve management decisions and use of the resources we all rely on. It is important that everyone realize that the harvest and proper use of our natural resources are the foundation of our economy and affect everything in our daily lives, from the wood in our houses to the leather of our belts. The forward movement of technology is amazing. It is important to keep pace agriculturally. This will allow us to sustain and use our resources wisely, while still meeting demand as we move forward globally.
I grew up on a cow/calf operation near Crawford, Colorado. I love the mountains, although I now live with my husband on the eastern plains on his family's cattle ranch. One fortunate part of having an education in Range Management is I have learned to both recognize and appreciate the beauty of any environment. I graduated from the University of Wyoming with a Bachelor of Science in Rangeland Ecology and Watershed Management. I was able to obtain two minors: one in Forest Ecology and the other in Restoration and Reclamation Ecology in December of 2007.
I learned about the IRM degree when I was in high school in a luncheon "Pizza with Professionals" from one of the IRM Faculty. I loved the concept of a degree combining business, livestock, and range; I liked that it would benefit me if I was able to return to our ranch or professionally. I kept it in the back of my mind and when the online version became available, I had to take the opportunity while I was able to work and go to school all at once. Eventually I would like to work in land management, perhaps with the US Forest Service or Extension and own a cattle ranch. Today, I am working to achieve my goals by working at a position that helps me to demonstrate some of my skills.
I grew up outside of Washington D.C. For my undergraduate degree, I attended James Madison University in Central Virginia, graduating with a degree in Political Science. After graduation, I moved to North Central Florida. I have always had a passion for animals, especially horses. My love of horses has drawn me to the country and has given me a love of being on a farm. Growing up I honestly did not know a whole lot about where my food came from. When I moved to Florida, my husband and I ended up buying a house in a more rural area. I was looking for a place to ride and found a local ranching family who took me under their wing. The head of the farm and family was a gentleman who treated me like a granddaughter and taught me a lot about the ins and outs of a small cow/calf operation. I was completely fascinated! He got me hooked on working cattle. I wanted to learn more about this industry so I started on a five year exploration of the ag industry and the careers that I thought would be a good fit for me.
Since finishing undergrad, I opened a business with husband and also became the president of a local not-for-profit that offers equine assisted therapy to individuals with disabilities. I was able to learn so much while doing both of these jobs, but I was still looking for my long term career. To make a long story short, I did find what I was looking for after much searching (e.g. , observing classes at the University of Florida, attending cattlemen’s meetings, take a beef short course, etc.). My goal is to become a liaison between the agricultural community, the wildlife community, and the general public.
I was attracted to the Integrated Resource Management degree because I want the tools to help bring the agriculture, wildlife and general public communities together. I want the public to have a better understanding of farmers and to see more of the positives, rather than always seeing the negatives on the news. I want to communicate to farmers how making small changes can make big impacts on how they are viewed by the rest of the country.
I am the husband of Brooke and the father of a daughter, Rebecca, and two sons, Will and Jack. Rebecca is the oldest at three while Will is two and Jack will reach his first birthday this November.
I will be turning 40 this year so the decision to pursue this degree required careful consideration in light of my personal and professional responsibilities. I am currently the Operations Manager for Lost Valley Ranch, a 4 Diamond guest and cattle operation located about two hours southwest of Denver. We are a large operation with almost 200 horses that includes a breeding program, a yearling operation using 40,000 acres of USFS permit land, a capacity of 100 guests and staffing that approaches 60 during peak seasons.
I believe this program dovetails nicely with the requisite demands of my current professional responsibilities. I have oversight in all areas of the ranch from the kitchen to the corral, cabins to the cattle. I also manage the natural resources under our responsibility including all deeded and public lands. The word stewardship is the driving force behind how we make decisions and our philosophical approach to the total operation. In my estimation, the IRM program gives me an expanded set of skills and relationships that enable me to develop as a steward of all that has been given to me.
How I've arrived at this point has been somewhat long and fairly arduous, but a brief background may help. I was raised in northeast Oklahoma in a semi-rural area. My exposure to agriculture was early spending time in north central Oklahoma where my grandpa was a pastor of a small farming community church. During my extended stays there I spent my time hunting, fishing and helping the local ranches and farms with daily tasks. At an early age I started working cattle horseback, learned to drive various equipment, and developed a set of skills that unbeknownst to me were not the norm for my age group.
I attended Oklahoma State University with no desire to continue professionally in agriculture because, frankly, the pay was not commensurate with the work. I soon learned after graduation that my skills and desires would lead me back to ranching and within 9 months of graduation I was working on a small cow-calf operation in southern Oklahoma.
My sojourn into the guest ranch business started in 1997 and was wholly unexpected and is a story left for another time, but after five years working at Lost Valley Ranch, I decided that through the counsel of others, I would like to pursue a Masters degree at Dallas Theological Seminary. After graduation in 2006, my passions and gifts led me to another stint at Lost Valley Ranch as Foreman.
My family and I have been back for three years now and I am excited about the challenges the future holds for me both personally and professionally. This next season of my academic life will be interesting and I am confident that this program will provide the resources I need to grow and move forward in my responsibilities.
I grew up in a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I was brought up by a family that has always had a great appreciation for the land and all it has to offer. My maternal grandfather is a forester and land surveyor and my paternal grandfather spent much of his life farming and managing a 1600 acre certified Michigan seed potato farm. As a child, I joined the local 4-H chapter where I was introduced to horses and the magic of horsemanship. I also spent much of my childhood raising and showing chickens, ducks, rabbits, and horses.
After graduating high school, I attended Northern Michigan University where I earned a degree in human physiology with intentions of going on to veterinary school. For many reasons (which I’ll spare you), I decided not to apply to vet school and went back to be certified to teach science at the junior high and high school level. In 2006, I started my career as an educator in Green Bay, WI where I teach General Science, Biology, and Human Anatomy and Physiology. A major theme that I try to tie into the courses that I teach is overall health and thought for what we put into our bodies on a daily basis. I believe that this begins with knowledge of where our food comes from and in what manner it was grown or raised.
My passion for animals and their welfare started as a child and is what has driven me to pursue a Master’s of Agriculture degree. I have done some volunteer work for animal shelters and worked with horses in rescue situations. I have strong beliefs that animals that are being raised for food have the right to live happy, healthy lives and that their wellbeing should always come first. Throughout the IRM program, I hope to pick up tools that will allow me to use my background in education to work with ranchers and farmers in an extension role, of some capacity, to educate the public on practices that will best suit their land, animals, and personal business goals. I hope to work with small to medium sized businesses to ensure that their animals are healthy, happy, and productive and that their land is well managed and improving from year to year.
Ultimately, I am hoping to be part of a movement to make people more aware of where their foods come from and how their food choices can affect more than just their own bodies. I also hope to fulfill my own dreams of becoming a small scale rancher with hopes of supplying a small amount of product to local markets here in Northeast Wisconsin. I am looking forward to the true integration of this program and am excited to learn more about soil biology, grasses and rangeland management, animal nutrition and reproduction, and agricultural business practices because I believe that a holistic approach is the only way to be truly successful in this arena.
My name is Jesse Yarnell. My wife Lesley and I live in Buffalo Mills, Pennsylvania. I attended Penn State University for my undergraduate degree in Secondary Education Physics. After college I enlisted in the Army for five years. I was trained as an Arabic linguist at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA. Fort Gordon, GA was my duty station for the remainder of my Army career which included a year- long deployment to Afghanistan in 2007.
After completing Army service, my wife and I decided to travel for a year. We found an organization called WWOOF which lists volunteer opportunities for travelers interested in organic farming—room and board in exchange for a few hours of work on a farm. We started east to west, camping along the way. We worked on a maple syrup farm in Vermont, a dairy goat creamery in Oregon and an olive oil orchard in California. During the winter and spring we worked on diverse organic farms in Costa Rica and Italy. The whole year was amazing and confirmed our passion for growing great local food.
After returning we decided to move back near our families in Pennsylvania. We found a small home with 30 acres where we plan to slowly build an agricultural business primarily selling natural, pastured poultry and pork. Future plans include selling honey, herbs, vegetables and firewood. We also want to start our own farm volunteer program.
I began searching for a program that would focus on the knowledge and skills necessary to manage a diverse, successful farm business. I came across the CSU Integrated Resource Management program, and the description matched perfectly. The online option for the program is also great, allowing me to build my business and knowledge at the same time. I’m ready to start.