Smith earns Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station award

Travis Smith in white cowboy hat is flanked by four student workers with expansive view from top of mountain behind them
Travis Smith (center) with student employees Orrin Kinberg, Matt Dole, Connor James, and Rian James after a day’s work setting up stock fence and hauling half-yaks and cows to the top of Jelm Mountain.

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.

For more information, visit www.uwyo.edu/uwexpstn/ or contact aes@uwyo.edu or (307) 766-3667.

Field day brings together agriculture, draft horses, UW basketball coach

Large brown horses with white manes on either side of smiling man.
UW women’s basketball coach Joe Legerski and Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station mascots Pistol (left) and Pete.

UW Women’s Basketball Coach Joe Legerski and draft horses Pistol and Pete  join researchers, business leaders and agriculture agencies and vendors at the  James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center (SAREC) for a field day 2-7 p.m. Thursday, August 24 near Lingle.

Registration begins at 3 p.m., and research presentations are 4:30-6 p.m., followed by dinner with UW Women’s Basketball Coach Joe Legerski.

Highlights are hail recovery, Cheatgrass Challenge wrap-up and tours of research plots and high tunnel. Blue tongue disease, hemp and guar trials and wheat variety trials are also field day topics.

The research and extension center is one of four across Wyoming operated by the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station housed in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming.

The free event is in conjunction with Goshen County Economic Development Business After Hours.
For more information contact Kelly Greenwald at (307) 837-2000 or kgreenwa@uwyo.edu.

WAES friends, staff honored with awards, recognition

Award winners holding oversized "Hess buck dollars" and plaques stand on either side of Kathleen Bertoncelj, for whom the award is named. On the end is Bret Hess. All stand against a black background.
Rochelle Koltiska (left) and Joanne Newcomb (right) received the Kathleen Bertoncelj AES Staff Award. Bertoncelj (center), whom the award honors, presented the award with Bret Hess, Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station director.

Shiny belt buckles specially designed for friends of Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (WAES) and a first-time award lit up the ballroom at the University of Wyoming Conference Center in Laramie February 15.

UW President Laurie Nichols and Pepper Jo Six, UW Foundation major gift officer, helped Bret Hess, associate dean of research in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and WAES director, honor two people he said “went well beyond the call of duty to help us celebrate our 125th anniversary.”

Friends of AES Recognized

Leesa Zalesky and David Kruger were each presented a “Friend of AES” belt buckle.

Zalesky helped care for Pistol and Pete, the WAES Haflinger draft horses that made appearances throughout the state in 2016, often pulling the college’s sheep wagon refurbished for the 125th celebration. She launched the pair into celebrity by creating their Facebook page, a factsheet, and traveling banner. Hess credits her for helping Pistol and Pete become “icons and exceptional ambassadors for WAES.”

Kruger documented WAES history in the book 125 Years of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station. He viewed the project as part of his responsibilities as UW library liaison with the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and attended WAES field days and other events to sign the book and share WAES history. Hess acknowledged Kruger as one of WAES’s “best ambassadors.”

Kathleen Bertoncelj AES Staff Awards Presented

Friends and supporters of a former WAES staff associate, led by former WAES director Steve Miller, made gifts to establish the Kathleen Bertoncelj WAES Staff Award. The inaugural award was presented to Rochelle Koltiska, Sheridan Research and Extension Center (ShREC) office associate, and Joanne Newcomb, administrative associate for WAES. Bertoncelj is a former senior office associate in the WAES. She worked at UW for 38 years, the last 16 in the WAES.

Koltiska embodies the spirit of the award by providing outstanding service and commitment to the improvement of WAES and its endeavors, said Hess. He noted when she arrived she was tasked with building an efficiently running office in the midst of great transitions, which included multiple station directors and a change in structure of the ShREC.

She has adapted procedures to meet the center’s expansion and has met the challenges of her own expanding roles, said Hess.

“Our team has complete confidence in her ability to ensure every detail is attended to for any of our public events, as this is an area where she really shines,” he said. He also acknowledged her contributions are helping grow the ShREC internship program.

Newcomb was praised for her professionalism and skill for anticipating needs. Newcomb ensures major programs and initiatives run smoothly and are efficient, effective, and highly professional, said Hess. He called her “the ultimate planner and organizer” and noted her ability to manage details.

“Anybody who has had the pleasure of working with Joanne can rest assured every possible scenario has been thoroughly explored and adjustments made before any possible situation is encountered,” said Hess.

He concluded, “When someone always knows your name and makes you feel as though you are friends, even when she works with hundreds of people, you know she is good at what she does.”

Staff Years of Service, Careers Recognized  

5 years with WAES: Rochelle Koltiska, Joanne Newcomb.

10 years with WAES: Kelly Greenwald, administrative associate at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Research and Extension Center (SAREC); Larry Miller, assistant farm manager at SAREC; Keith Schaefer, assistant farm manager at the Powell Research and Extension Center; and Travis Smith, assistant farm manager at the Laramie Research and Extension Center (LREC).

20 years with WAES: Mike Moore, manager, Wyoming Seed Certification Service.

WAES employees who retired in 2017 are Denny Hall, manager, Wyoming Seed Laboratory; Dale Hill, assistant farm manager, LREC; and David Perry, grants coordinator, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.