University of Wyoming Extension News

UW Extension features Wyoming rangeland plants in new book, free e-pub

Rangeland PlantsA new field guide from University of Wyoming Extension specialists is designed for farmers, ranchers, hikers and others interested in Wyoming’s most common rangeland plant species.

Rangeland Plants: Wyoming Tough” is available at as a free download or as a spiral-bound guidebook for $8.

The term rangeland encompasses open-space habitats grazed by domestic animals and wildlife throughout the world. Wyoming rangelands include tallgrass and shortgrass prairie and sagebrush steppe.

 “You will probably find that once you start to learn about the flora and fauna of Wyoming, it becomes a lifelong habit,” said Mae Smith, publication editor.

Seventy-five grasses, grass-like plants, forbs and woody plants are featured, as well as some non-native interlopers, such as cheatgrass (downy brome). Organization is by plant type and common name. Four color photos of each, plus physical and diagnostic characteristics aid plant identification.

Information includes scientific name, growth habit and preferred habitat, forage value and an interesting fact for each.

Arrowgrass, for example, is not a true grass and is poisonous in hay. Western wheatgrass is Wyoming’s state grass. Sticky purple geranium is protocarnivorous: it dissolves insects that get trapped on its leaves. Arrowleaf balsamroot, which fills landscapes across the state with yellow flowers in summer, has a tap root that has been used as a coffee substitute.

“Rangeland Plants: Wyoming Tough” is one of more than 500 guides and how-to videos available from University of Wyoming Extension (, covering livestock, wildlife and Wyoming open spaces, plus gardening, estate planning, enterprise economics, energy planning and other topics.  

For more on rangelands, see “Wyoming Weed Watchlist,” “Cheatgrass Management Handbook,” and the “Successful Restoration of Severely Disturbed Lands” series.

Riverton workshop provides ‘good agricultural practices’ information

Jeff Edwards

Jeff Edwards

How food safety can be increased through on-farm practices is the focus of a good agricultural practices (GAP) workshop in Riverton.

The sessions are Thursday-Friday, May12-13, in the Intertribal Building Wind River Room at Central Wyoming College.

The workshops benefit producers, retailers and wholesalers in supermarkets, farmers market managers and managers in food service industries, said Jeff Edwards, University of Wyoming Extension educator.

Sessions start 9 a.m. both days and end by noon the second. Snacks and lunches are provided. Early registration is requested by May 11. Register at

 “The GAP workshops will equip producers with the knowledge to create a written food safety plan,” said Edwards.

Food safety begins with sound practices on the farm, he said, especially with fresh vegetable and fruit produce.

“Many fresh produce retailers now require their suppliers to have third-party audits to verify safe food production and handling practices on the farm,” he said.

Workshop topics include:

* Produce safety risk factors and impacts.

* Post-harvest produce handling.

* Water quality and testing.

* Creating a food safety plan.

* Auditing farms for GAPs/food safety.

* Soil management/manure management.

 * Worker health and hygiene.

* Traceability, recall and liability issues.

A binder of materials is provided. All printed class materials and other resources (such as editable templates) are provided on a USB drive.

For more information, contact Edwards at 307-837-2956 or

UW Extension, University of Nebraska Extension, the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and the Wyoming Farmers Marketing Association are offering the workshop.

New guides address pests, beneficial insects in Wyoming alfalfa

AphidsTwo new publications from University of Wyoming Extension give growers a closer look at pests and beneficial insects affecting alfalfa crops.

Damage from insects includes seedling death, stunted growth, skeletonization and other leaf deformity. “Insects in Wyoming Alfalfa” is available online at “Aphids in Alfalfa” is available at

 “Insects in Wyoming Alfalfa” is an easy-to-use guide to eight leaf chewers, sap suckers
and the blister beetle, whose toxin is poisonous when consumed by horses. It also includes beneficial insects and spiders that aid alfalfa crops by serving as pest predators and parasites and plant pollinators. The guide contains descriptions, photos and actual-sized silhouettes.  

Insects in wyoming“Aphids in Alfalfa” gives a more in-depth look at this common and sometimes serious pest, noted for piercing, sucking mouthparts, rapid reproduction and ability to reduce yields by several means. Two tables in this bulletin guide producers in counting aphids and beneficial lady beetles to determine if insecticide treatment may be necessary.

For more information, contact Randa Jabbour in the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Department of Plant Sciences. She can be reached at 307-766-3439 or

Ph.D. student poster, presentation win national Society for Range Management awards

Kristen Gunther

Kristen Gunther


Kurt Smith

Two Ph.D. students in the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture and Natural Resources earned first-place honors at the 2016 Society for Range Management annual meeting in February in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Kristen Gunther of Fallston, Md., won first in the Ph.D. student poster competition for “Approaches for Communicating Rangeland Science: Results from Statewide and National Surveys.”

Kurt Smith, Troy, Penn., won first in Ph.D. oral paper presentations forEffects of Mowing and Herbicide Treatments on the Nutritional Quality of Sagebrush in Central Wyoming.”

Veterinary pathologist develops method potentially slowing Huntington’s disease

Jonathan Fox

Jonathan Fox

A process developed by a veterinary pathologist to potentially slow progression of Huntington’s disease has prompted a patent for the University of Wyoming.

Associate professor Jonathan Fox in the Department of Veterinary Sciences said there are currently no effective treatments in slowing progression of the human disease. His method could also potentially treat other neurodegenerative disease.

Huntington’s disease, which affects about 30,000 people in the United States, is caused by a protein called huntingtin that, when in the mutant form, misfolds and accumulates in neurons. This eventually results in degeneration in brain areas important for movement, mental health and memory.

People with this disease usually die within 15 to 20 years following diagnosis, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Fox, studying mice genetically engineered to have the disease, developed a method for decreasing the levels of the disease-causing mutant huntingtin protein by increasing expression of specific proteins that can decrease levels of mutant huntingtin protein in cells.

“Increasing the expression levels of these protective proteins, or using chemical activators of their enzymatic activities, is a potential way to target the proximal cause of Huntington’s disease, which is mutant huntingtin protein,” Fox said. “Since other protein misfolding neurodegenerative diseases have many features in common with Huntington’s disease, the present method may be applicable to other protein misfolding neurodegenerative diseases.”

Fox teaches in the Department of Veterinary Sciences and the Doctoral Neuroscience Program at UW.