BOZEMAN – A philanthropic foundation dedicated to agricultural research and educational programs has funded a new academic seminar series at Montana State University.

The Bair Ranch Foundation Seminar Series, housed in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences, part of MSU’s College of Agriculture, will bring nationally renowned experts in agricultural and natural resources to MSU and the Bozeman community to share their expertise.

Cattle graze with the Beartooth Mountains in the background near Absarokee, Montana. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham
Cattle graze with the Beartooth Mountains in the background near Absarokee, Montana. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham

The series is funded by the Bair Ranch Foundation, part of the Charles M. Bair Trusts, which operates a working, educational ranch in Martinsdale for the benefit of research and education.

The series begins this 2018-2019 academic year, and will include experts on topics related to agricultural policy, wildlife, livestock genetics and the United States beef industry. Seminar scholars will visit MSU during the year to deliver both a research seminar for MSU faculty, staff and students, in addition to an evening talk open to the public.

Carl Yeoman, associate professor of molecular biology, and Lance McNew, assistant professor of wildlife habitat ecology, both in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences, submitted a proposal for the series’ organization.

Yeoman said the dedicated research series will provide opportunities for students to engage with nationally recognized professionals.

“Thanks to the Bair Ranch Foundation, we can bring together national research leaders with our faculty, students and the agricultural community, and provide meaningful opportunities for professional interactions around innovative research into agricultural and natural resource issues,” Yeoman said.

McNew said the series is intended to benefit both MSU’s community of students and faculty, in addition to Montana stakeholders, on topics that directly affect Montana’s agricultural and natural resource economies.

“Not only will the seminars bring cutting-edge science in agriculture and natural resources occurring outside MSU to our community, they will also facilitate interaction between local to internationally recognized professionals and our students, faculty and managers from around Montana,” McNew said.

Kevin Peterson, development director with the Montana State University Alumni Foundation for the College of Agriculture, said the Bair Ranch Foundation has a long history of supporting educational opportunities for agriculture students at MSU.

“Support from the Bair Ranch Foundation has been vital to the success of many of our applied research projects, and they have positively contributed to the success of a large number of agriculture students at MSU,” Peterson said. “Their support of the Bair Ranch Foundation Seminar Series is just another example of their focus on education and impacting future generations.”

The fall schedule of the Bair Ranch Foundation Seminar Series includes a research seminar during the day, followed by a reception and community talk in the evening. The seminars will be held in Room 134 of the Animal Bioscience Building.

The schedule is as follows:

  • On Wednesday, Sept. 19, Vince Smith, professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, will present a research seminar at noon. His seminar is titled “Food Aid Cargo Preference: Costs, Benefits and Implications for U.S. Humanitarian Aid Efforts.” At 6 p.m., Smith will deliver a community talk, “U.S. Agricultural Policy: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going?”
  • On Wednesday, Oct. 3, Kevin Ellison, grasslands ecologist at the World Wildlife Fund, will present a research seminar at noon. His seminar is titled “Landscape Scale Interactions between Birds and Agriculture.”
  • On Wednesday, Oct. 17, Amilton de Mello, meat science and food safety program leader at the University of Nevada, Reno, will present a research seminar at noon titled “Bacteriophage Applications in the Meat Industry.” At 6 p.m., de Mello will deliver a community talk, “Beef Industry in the U.S.: Challenges and Perspective.”
  • On Wednesday, Oct. 31, Matthew Cronin, scientist with Northwest Biology Company, will present a research seminar at noon, “Population Genetics of Wildlife and Livestock.”
  • On Wednesday, Nov. 14, Matthew Spangler, professor and beef genetics specialist at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, will present a research seminar at noon, “Past, Current and Future Approaches to Genomic Selection.” At 6 p.m., Spangler will deliver a community talk, “Genetic Selection of Livestock: Why it Matters to You.”

Charles M. Bair first brought his sheep operation to Martinsdale in 1913. Bair, a prominent sheep man and entrepreneur, recognized the potential of the land along the Musselshell River. He amassed a significant fortune through both his ranching and entrepreneurial endeavors. His death in 1943 left operations of the ranch in the hands of his daughters. In 1998, The Bair Ranch Foundation was formed as an educational research foundation, with the intent of collaborating with universities to conduct applied research projects on a working ranch.

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