University of Wyoming Extension News

New extension educator based in Powell, serves northwest area

Jeremiah Vardiman

Jeremiah Vardiman

Jeremiah Vardiman will join the Park County University of Wyoming Extension office in Powell Jan. 5 as the northwest area educator for agriculture.

Vardiman has worked for UW at the Sheridan Research and Extension Center since 2012 and for the past year served as assistant farm manager.

He received a bachelor’s degree in biology with an emphasis in environmental studies and a master’s degree in education, both from Chadron State College in Nebraska.

His new position will emphasize crop science. He will serve Big Horn, Fremont, Hot Springs, Park and Washakie counties and the Wind River Indian Reservation. In addition to agricultural producers, this position provides educational programming to small-acreage landowners and supports the area’s Master Gardener programs.

Scientists in grass height and sage-grouse nest success study say facts being misrepresented

Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck

Scientists whose study found a positive relationship between taller grass and sage-grouse nest success are concerned environmental groups are using findings to incorrectly label livestock producers as responsible for the birds’ decline.

The study is described in “Linking conservation actions to demography; grass height explains variation in greater sage-grouse nesting survival” published earlier this month in the journal Wildlife Biology. The article can be read at

Dave Naugle, the study’s principal investigator and professor in the Wildlife Biology Program at the University of Montana, said the Center for Biological Diversity in a media release this week used the study to call for a uniform 7-inch stubble height requirement across sage-grouse range as a regulatory mechanism to shut down public lands grazing.

“The center’s messaging is an abuse of science,” said Naugle. “Twisting the facts to further an agenda only alienates partners and slows defensible policy making.”

The study period was 2003-2007. The scientists found a strong correlative relationship between grass height and nest success in northeast Wyoming and southeast Montana study sites, which has helped prompt new research, said lead author Kevin Doherty of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Colorado.

“Our research has helped to spur new research projects that are experimentally designed to evaluate if grazing systems can be used as a tool to increase sage-grouse populations,” he said.

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Meetings explore small hydropower possibilities in Big Horn Basin

Milt Geiger

Milt Geiger

Opportunities for agricultural producers, irrigation districts and other water users to develop small hydropower resources at existing water infrastructure will be covered in a series of meetings and roundtables in Worland, Powell and Basin Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 7-8.

The Wyoming Business Council and State Energy Office partnered with University of Wyoming Extension and the UW School of Energy Resources to develop the Wyoming Small Hydropower Handbook, which is the foundation of the discussion, said Milt Geiger, UW Extension energy coordinator.

Geiger will offer an overview of the development process and typical characteristics of a feasible development opportunity.

 “Small hydropower offers water users the opportunity to make our Wyoming waters work even harder, producing electricity while serving the needs of irrigators and municipalities,” said Geiger.

The roundtables and presentation highlight the “where, what and how” of the evaluation process, including Wyoming case studies, he said.  Recent reports by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation identifying potential development locations in the Big Horn Basin will be discussed.  Incentives and a simplified permitting process will also receive attention.

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Pinedale students win statewide Lego competition’s top award

Front, from left, Garrett Swain, Luke Gray, Zane McClain, Brooke Noble, Janae Arne, Holden Saxton, Jackson Harber. Back: John Covill

The Iron Bridge Builders are, front, from left, Garrett Swain, Luke Gray, Zane McClain, Brooke Noble, Janae Arne, Holden Saxton, Jackson Harber. Back: John Covill

Sublette County 4-H’s First Lego League (FLL) Robotics team “Iron Bridge Builders” won the FLL championship but also the competition’s most prestigious honor – the Champion’s Award.

Competition was Dec. 5-6 at the Casper Events Center.

The team scored 175 points putting them first among 64 teams from across the state, said Robin Schamber, Sublette County 4-H educator.

FLL is an international competition for children ages 9-14 in North America. Each year, a new challenge is announced in August with a theme focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) principles. Teams are judged in three categories: the robot game, the project and the FLL core values.

Nine members ages 9-11 made up the winning Iron Bridge Builders team. Students are, from Pinedale Elementary, Janae Arne, Holden Saxton, Brooke Noble, Thayne Daniels, Garrett Swain, Zane McClain, Luke Gray, and Jackson Harber, and from Pinedale Middle School, John Covill.

The team captured Sublette County’s first Champions Award.

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Extension bulletin breaks down livestock vs. wildlife grazing competition

b1260A new bulletin from the University of Wyoming Extension covers livestock and wildlife grazing competition and the facts leading to dietary overlap.

“Dietary Composition and Conflicts of Livestock and Wildlife on Rangeland” explains the distinctions between types of roughages and the physiological reasons why animals prefer grazing on certain plant types.

Derek Scasta, assistant professor and extension rangeland specialist, said, “The interaction of livestock and wildlife on rangeland is an issue of concern not only for ranchers and wildlife managers, but the general public.”

He explained wild horses and their impact on rangelands have recently raised additional considerations.

 “In particular, competition for food resources can help guide decisions for grazing timing, duration and location, ” he said.

To download, go to and click Publications on the left-hand side of the page. Type B-1260 in the Search Publications field and follow the prompts.