Range team shines again at North American competition

    U of A range team earns two team and five individual awards at the annual competition organized by the Society for Range Management

    By Michel Proulx on March 5, 2012

    Chalk up another big win for the U of A range team.

    The 2012 edition of the range team garnered seven awards, five individual and two team ones at the recent North American competition sponsored by the Society for Range Management held in Spokane, Washington.

    The team placed first in the Undergraduate Range Management Exam (URME), and second in the plant identification exam.

    The URME is a comprehensive exam that encompasses material typical of a four-year undergraduate degree in resource management while the plant identification exam is a challenging station-type test that draws 100 specimens from a master list of the 200 most common rangeland species from western North America, 60 of which grow in Canada.

    Nadine Clifton, who will be graduating with a BSc (Ag) majoring in range and pasture management this term, took top honours in the combined high score category, placing first. Her teammate Karen Anderson placed third and Mark Lyseng placed 5th.

    Other team members were Chelsea Geiger (who placed fifth on the URME exam), Meaghan Dunn, Scott Dunn, Carly Hansen and Jamie Walker.

    Nadine, Karen and Mark were each was informed of their placement only once they were onstage at the awards ceremony after the competition.

    “We were backstage, after having received a team award and you can’t hear anything back there,” explained Nadine. “They called Mark out and we didn’t know why because you can’t hear what’s happening on stage and then they called Karen and we didn’t know why and then I got called out. You walk out from behind the stage, lights are in your eyes, you can’t see anything, you don’t know why you’re there. Barry said I was standing there, looking like a deer caught in the headlights.

    “I was pretty shocked. I didn’t think I did that well. It was pretty neat.”

    The Barry she’s referring to is Barry Irving, who teaches the fourth-year course, Plants of North American Rangelands and Wildlands, and who coaches the range team every year.

    Nadine credits him with preparing the students very well for the competition and keeping them focused.

    “I found the plant test more stressful because you have higher expectations of yourself, you’re supposed to know all the plants,” she said. “And it’s a quick test. You have about a minute per plant.

    “Barry always tells us not to change our answers after we’ve written them down because you can’t tell what it is any better from five plants later than you could when you were there. That’s hard to do, especially with the rest stations they gave because you had extra time to look at your sheets...”

    Yet clearly, it worked.

    “I think Barry had a lot more faith in us than we had in ourselves, to be honest. We thought, ‘We’re going to do so bad.’ Barry would just say, ‘You’ll do fine.’”

    And they did.