University of Wyoming Extension News

UW sophomore joins National Beef Ambassador Team


Rachel Purdy

Rachel Purdy

A sophomore agricultural business student at the University of Wyoming is one of five selected to the 2015 National Beef Ambassador Team.

Rachel Purdy, who is also a UW Ag Ambassador, said growing up on her family’s farm near Pine Bluffs spurred her passion for the beef and agricultural industries and motivated her to become an advocate.

“I really do enjoy consumer events,” Purdy said. “I think it’s a really good way to reach consumers because there’s no such thing as a stupid question, and it’s a good way to educate them and have a good conversation about why we eat beef and how it gets to the consumer’s plate.”

Other team members are Will Pohlman, Arkansas, Alicia Smith, Texas, Kalyn McKibben, Oklahoma, and Demi Snider, Ohio.

Purdy, a student in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, first competed in the junior level in 2011, where she not only made it to third place, but was inspired – and determined – to make the national team for ages 17-21.

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UW entomology professor’s book about rise of insects creates buzz


Scott Shaw

Scott Shaw

“Planet of the Bugs: Evolution and the Rise of Insects” by Scott Shaw at the University of Wyoming has drawn glowing comments from national and international reviewers, but bugs may be his final critics.

            Shaw, a professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, jokes that editions of his new (and first) book just might end up in the guts of some insects and the digital versions devoured by computer bugs.

            If that happens?

            “Dark justice,” said Shaw, and smiled.

            More about those critics later.

            Shaw tells the story of evolution of the dominant insect species and their shaping of life on earth, written with rich, descriptive images (you’ll walk with a contemplative Shaw in his prologue, sloshing his way along a rainforest trail oozing with slippery mud), has drawn glowing reviews from the Times Higher Education Review and New Scientist, inspired a cartoon in The New Yorker, and is on Google Books, Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and other bookstores.

            He was invited and wrote an opinion piece “Bug Love” published August 23 in The New York Times.

            The resulting buzz seems to have little effect on Shaw, who joined UW as an assistant professor 25 years ago in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

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UW family and consumer sciences leader first male Phi Upsilon Omicron president

Bruce Cameron

Bruce Cameron

University of Wyoming family and consumer sciences department head Bruce Cameron in 2015 will become the first male president of Phi Upsilon Omicron, the first in its 105-year history.

Phi Upsilon Omicron is a national family and consumer sciences honor society that boasts over 95,000 members. Cameron is an associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

According to outgoing president Karol Blaylock, an associate professor at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, few men entered the field until a restructuring of what was then referred to as home economics.

“The honor society grew out of the need to honor scholars majoring in home economics in 1909,” she said. “Until the 1980s, very few males majored in home economics. So here we are now with Dr. Cameron leading this honor society of still mostly females.  He will impact the rest of the history of this wonderful organization.”

Blaylock said Cameron’s two-year position as president-elect, his advisory status for UW’s Delta Chapter and experience with leading other organizations have proven he has the skills necessary to be a successful leader for Phi U.

“Professor Cameron is a very intelligent, personable man with a great sense of humor, who will continue the feeling of family among the organization’s members,” Blaylock said. “He believes in nurturing leaders and supports students in all of their scholarly and professional endeavors. His continued contact with Phi U alumni will provide networking opportunities that will lead to internships and jobs for the graduating Phi U students at the national level.”

UW scientist wants to dispel genetically modified crop, pesticide use fallacies


Andrew Kniss

Andrew Kniss

A weed scientist at the University of Wyoming targets misconceptions about the safety of genetically engineered crops (GMOs) and pesticide use in modern agriculture in a public webinar Friday, Oct. 17.

“Many people believe the giant seed companies are the only ones who benefit from GMO crops, but this simply isn’t the case,” said Andrew Kniss, an associate professor in the Department of Plant Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The webinar begins at 1:10 p.m. and is at

Consumers should be interested in their food, Kniss said.

“But when people go looking for this information, I worry a lot of people are being misled by organizations with alternative motives,” he said. “It is our job at the university to be a primary source of unbiased information. It is important for us to engage the public and provide the best information available.”

Kniss will discuss the role of land-grant faculty members in addressing disinformation and misconceptions among non-agricultural audiences. He said many people have little firsthand knowledge of how modern farms operate and are hungry for that information. He cites a lack of agricultural outreach and extension to the general public as partly responsible.


Albany County extension offers Annie’s Project sessions for farm, ranch women

Empowering farm and ranch women with financial and marketing knowledge and opportunities to network with each other are some of the goals of a University of Wyoming Extension program in Albany County.

Annie’s Project sessions are 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesdays from Oct. 15-Nov. 19 at the extension office meeting room in Laramie, said Kellie Chichester, extension educator in Albany County. The cost is $30; sessions include lunch. Registration deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 14.

“This will be a great program for women involved in agriculture to come out and network and learn from the various speakers,” said Chichester.

The program is based on Annie’s Project, a program for women in agriculture with a passion for business and being involved in their family operations. Iowa State University Extension developed the Annie’s Project program.

For more information or to register, contact Chichester at 307-721-2571 or at