Range team shines in international competition

    The ALES range team continued its tradition of excellence, earning seven team and individual awards during the undergraduate student competitions held at the recent Society for Range Management annual meeting.

    By Michel Proulx on February 25, 2011

    A team of six ALES students won several team and individual awards in the undergraduate student competitions at the recent Society for Range Management annual meeting in Billings, Montana.

    ENCS student Kristine Dahl and Agriculture major Jolene Noble finished in first and second place respectively, in the high individual combined category.

    Students were scored on two events: the undergraduate range management exam (URME) and the plant identification context.

    For Dahl, who graduated last December with an ENCS degree, the result exceeded her wildest expectations.

    “It was a lot of pressure because I wanted to do well,” explains Dahl. “I didn’t expect to do as well as I did but I wanted to nail the plants and for the URME, I just wanted to not lose any ground.”

    In fact, hours before the results were released, Dahl was convinced she hadn’t done well.

    “I was so stressed out, it was awful. I really thought we bombed. I was questioning every plant and answer. It was terrible. I had to apologize to my roommate later for being so stressed out,” she says, laughing at the memory.

    Her first-place finish earned her a free trip to Washington, D.C. for a week while Noble received a cash award for her efforts.

    The six-member range team, coached by Dr. Barry Irving and composed of Dahl, fellow ENCS student Karen Anderson and Agriculture students Noble, Jordan Burke, Christine Buchanan and Kim Kuneff, also experienced great success at the student competitions.

    It finished first in the team URME competition, which tests students’ knowledge about all range management aspects including rangeland ecology, grazing management, statistics and sampling theory, and multiple rangeland use, and second on the always difficult team plant identification contest to a team from Mexico that does not compete in both competitions.

    Overall, the students won seven individual and team awards. Jordan Burke finished second and Jolene Noble finished fourth in the individual URME, and Kristine Dahl finished fourth in the individual plant identification competition.

    The University of Alberta was the only Canadian university to have students compete in both categories. About 350 undergraduate students from 25 universities across Canada, the United States and Mexico competed.