BROOKINGS, S.D. — A team of 11 South Dakota State University students competed in the Undergraduate Range Management Exam (URME) held at the Society for Range Management Annual Meeting in Boise, Idaho, Feb. 12-16. The team earned a second-place finish against 21 other schools from North America.
The team consisted of Tyler Geltmacher, Bushnell, Illinois; Landon Wolter, Wessington Springs, South Dakota; Kaitlyn Preszler, Roscoe, South Dakota; Kaitlin Schieuer, Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Alexandra Medvec, Richfield, Minnesota; Elise Anderson, Miles City, Montana; John Sump, Lincoln, Nebraska; Annie Feden, Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Sarah Hayden, Aberdeen, South Dakota; Rachel Savage, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Sierra Sattler, Lemmon, South Dakota.
The team was coached by Lora Perkins, associate professor in the Department of Natural Resource Management and affiliate associate professor in the Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science and Maribeth Latvis, assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resource Management and director of the C.A. Taylor Herbarium at SDSU.
The top three team individuals included Tyler Geltmacher, Landon Wolter, and Kaitlyn Preszler. Students placing in the top 10 percent of individuals are exempt from the Certified Professional in Range Management (CPRM) exam that is taken after five years of work experience.
“It was extremely gratifying to hear that we placed second as a team and that I was in the top 10 individually,” said Tyler Geltmacher, senior Ecology and Environmental Science – Rangeland Ecology and Management Specialization student from Bushnell, Illinois. “It confirmed that SDSU is a great school within the field of Range Management and we have a talented team.”
The exam is divided into six categories on the topics of range ecology, grazing management, range improvement, range regions, range inventory and analysis, and multiple-use relationships. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions in the six areas; these questions are intended to assess higher order learning skills and synthesis knowledge of the art and science of rangeland management. In addition, problems are given in the grazing management, range improvements, and range inventory and analysis sections. Questions are selected from material submitted by university faculty members, government agency personnel, non-governmental organizations, industry personnel and ranchers.
“The exam itself offered many challenging questions that one might see in the field, knowing how to solve these will be very helpful in the future,” said Kaitlyn Preszler, a junior Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and Ecology and Environmental Sciences – Rangeland Management Specialization student from Roscoe, South Dakota. “The conference also offered a chance to network and gain communication skills while talking with other professionals in the field.”
According to Perkins, participating in the range team has a huge impact on a student’s education and future career prospects. Not only does participating in the exam allow students the opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge required of a range professional, but attending the job fair held at the conference provides important networking experiences to help set them up in the future.
“Consistently, there are more job openings for range scientists than we have graduating students – job prospects are great,” said Perkins. “The networking potential at these meetings is tremendous.”
Students from any major are welcome to join and participate in the exam. Many of the students on the team are members of Range Club at SDSU. Students interested in being part of the team can sign up for the Range 400 class in either the fall or spring semesters.
— South Dakota State University CAFES