Range Club provides learning opportunities for any and all students

MSU’s Range Management club provides students with opportunities to learn more about range ecosystems and travel across the nation for competitions. The club focuses on education and issues facing range management, offering the club’s members resources to prepare them for their professional careers.

The Range Management Club was originally organized by range students who met to discuss current range issues and to socialize, and it is one of the oldest clubs on campus. “We don’t have an exact number, but I think it is 40 years old. It is one of the very first clubs through the college of Ag,” Jarrett Payne, club president and senior in the range science major, said.

Over time the club has become closely tied to the International Society for Range Management (SRM). Each year the club sponsors an Undergraduate Range Management Exam (URME) team and a Range Plant Identification team, who have the opportunity to represent MSU by competing with students from other campuses each year at annual SRM events.

“You have the opportunity to network with so many different professionals who come from all over the world, and the chance to go there, complete, do well, to be productive and also have fun,” said club member Maria Goettemoeller, a junior in animal science.

“I think traveling as a team to represent MSU and getting to compete is very rewarding. Last year we did really well, and this year we did really well too,” Payne said. “We come together to represent MSU.”

To prepare for competitions, the URME and plant identification teams meet regularly to practice; often club meetings are used to plan and prepare for upcoming events.

“Even if it is not a class, it offers a very diverse and thorough education,” Goettemoeller said.

To provide new insight and perspective for members, the club regularly invites range professionals to come and speak at meetings and share their expertise. Jack Alexander, founder and president of Synergy Resource Solutions Inc., a local company specializing in natural resource technical services, spoke to the club last year. He plans to speak again on April 14, about his experiences while serving as a representative for the Cattlemen’s Association in Cuba.

Other club activities include participating in wildlife surveys, which have allowed members to branch out into wildlife habitat ecology, and raising funds for SRM trips by harvesting invasive conifers encroaching into rangeland and then selling them as Christmas trees on campus.

The opportunities these activities provide to meet and get to know other club members is an important aspect of the club’s appeal. “I think we’re a fairly social group of individuals. We like to talk and learn about each other and to go out and compete and get involved, or just collect Christmas trees,” Payne said. “We’re open to any student on campus; you don’t have to be a range or ag student to be involved. We’re here to provide education but at the same time make college enjoyable.”

The club holds meetings on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, and non-scheduled meetings as the need arises. Meetings are held in the Animal Bioscience Building 238 at 7 p.m. Dues for the club are $10 per semester or $15 per school year. For more information, Jarrett Payne can be contacted at jarrett.payne@msu.montana.edu.