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UW Students Win National Landman Scholarships

April 22, 2014
Three people conversing
University of Wyoming students Sean McDonald of Jackson, left, and Fred Eden of Powell, center, visit with Don Roth, director of UW’s Professional Land Management Program. The two students received scholarships from the American Association of Professional Landmen. (UW Photo)

The University of Wyoming’s Professional Land Management Program is less than a year old, but already its students are successfully competing with top scholars around the nation.

UW students Sean McDonald of Jackson and Fred Eden of Powell were awarded scholarships from the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL). AAPL scholarships are extraordinarily competitive, says Don Roth, director of UW’s Professional Land Management program.

“To have AAPL’s Scholarship Trust decide two students at UW are deserving of the organization’s recognition and financial support is significant,” says Eden, who’s finishing his third year at UW. “UW has developed a program with rigorous academic requirements that is now being emulated by the legacy schools within the landman industry.”

UW’s Professional Land Management Program, a concentration within the energy resources and development major, is one of just nine in North America accredited by AAPL. Nineteen students are enrolled in the program, which aims to produce professional landmen capable of providing sound stewardship of energy and mineral resources.

Landmen determine land ownership and availability for mineral leasing; negotiate agreements with landowners for drilling and production rights; draft and administer contracts with the assistance of corporate counsel; coordinate workflow with geologists and engineers; and ensure compliance with government regulations. The UW School of Energy Resources developed its program, in partnership with the Wyoming Association of Professional Landmen and the energy industry, in part, to meet an increasing demand for well-trained land professionals with specific knowledge of Western land issues, culture, heritage and environment.

Eden enrolled in the program as a way to “maximize my career opportunities.” After graduation, he hopes to either start a career as a landman in the Rockies, or possibly attend law school.

“The career has such broad-ranging opportunities; landmen operate in every aspect of the modern world,” he says. “Landmen are there in fiber-optic lines, cellular towers, wind farms, solar arrays and biofuels, as well as oil, gas and coal.”

McDonald, meanwhile, has a year left to earn his degree. He transferred to UW after a year at Westminster College in Salt Lake City at the encouragement of his brother, Kyle, one of the first two graduates of the School of Energy Resources.

“I landed in the land management focus because it offers a diverse and difficult curriculum that appeals to me,” McDonald says. “I changed majors twice at Westminster College and had a lot of indecision about what I wanted to do. I think the diverse curriculum attracted me because I knew I wouldn’t burn out on any one course or discipline.”

UW’s program includes coursework in business, geology, law, engineering and math, with opportunities for practical application. It emphasizes direct industry experience through internships, collaborations with practicing professional landmen and attorneys, field trips and other interactions with the energy sector.

McDonald says he plans to take some time to travel after graduation, then return to college for graduate studies. He describes the AAPL scholarship as “a great honor.”

“The fact that the AAPL is willing to invest this money in me fuels me to continue my hard work in the classroom and prove that I, and the PLM program at UW, are worth the investment,” he says.

Roth says the fact that UW’s program has two AAPL scholarship recipients is a testimony not only to the achievements of McDonald and Eden, but also a reflection of program excellence and industry support.

“We look forward to constant improvement to connect classroom learning with practical application,” Roth says. “Our goal is to ensure that our program sets the educational standard in North America and prepares graduates for long-term competitive success in the profession.”

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