A Laramie Research and Extension Center (LREC) unit manager who ensures approximately 250 beef cows are bred, fed, grazed and remain healthy, livestock research is managed with reliable experimental controls and UW classes and student employees gain real-world experience has earned the 2018 Kathleen Bertoncelj Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) Staff Award.
Travis Smith, beef unit manager of the LREC, was recognized in December in Laramie for contributions in the three areas of the University of Wyoming Land Grant mission – research, teaching, and outreach.
In research, Smith has helped coordinate experiments for faculty investigators and graduate students, including the logistics of moving animals, synchronizing breeding protocols, supervising calving, and managing animal handling and sampling.
“Travis has a strong work ethic and has always been ready and willing to assist. He routinely works long hours and finds solutions to complex animal research logistical questions,” said nominator Derek Scasta, UW Extension rangeland specialist and UW assistant professor.
For over a year Smith has managed 14 cattle-yak crosses in a program to address high-altitude pulmonary hypertension, also known as brisket disease. Smith and crew built temporary corrals in the parking lot of the Jelm Mountain Observatory last fall, and over the course of a month, he hauled about 600 gallons of water per day and delivered about 25 tons of hay to the top of the 9,656-ft. peak.
Smith often contributes to scientific papers, which in 2015 included serving as co-author on research published in the Journal of Animal Science and Rangelands.
In his teaching role, Smith has coordinated student laboratories for UW beef production classes and taught artificial insemination and breeding exercises. Smith has served as adviser and co-adviser for the UW Ranch Horse Team, helped re-establish the UW ROTC mounted color guard, and supervises student workers.
Smith has gained notoriety for managing Pistol and Pete, the pair of Haflinger draft horses that pull the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources sheep wagon and other wagons in parades and events around the state. He helps coordinate Laramie Research and Extension Center’s annual family farm day and assists with UW Extension artificial insemination (AI) workshops.
“Travis is a true asset to UW, given his humble attitude, expertise in beef cattle management, and ability to collaborate in a meaningful way,” said Scasta.
Friends and supporters made gifts to establish the Kathleen Bertoncelj AES Staff Award last year. Bartoncelj is a former senior office associate in WAES who worked at UW for 38 years, the last 16 in WAES.
As the research unit of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the WAES funds and actively promotes investigations to increase agricultural productivity, natural resource stewardship, and community well-being. The LREC is one of four research and experiment stations WAES operates around the state.