Want to get the Pulleys animated?
Just say "research."
Ron Pulley is on the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center (SAREC) Citizens Focus Group and is a member of the college's academic advisory board. The SAREC and Powell Research and Extension Center advisory boards initiated a meeting on the UW campus last November with college researchers, administrators, and students to talk about research projects.
The goal was research applicable to Wyoming producers.
A meet and greet followed for lunch. "We were expecting 10 or 15, but we had like 47 people," says Ron, who was delighted with the results. Those included faculty and staff members, researchers, and students. "We talked for two hours, and I was watching students sitting down with people from Powell grilling the farmers on things. It was a wonderful experience." One of the group's discoveries was there is funding to pay for the infrastructure/facilities for research, but there are limited opportunities to support applied, producer-driven research. He says the groups then got "a little carried away," asking $200,000 from the Wyoming Legislature to fund research.
Some may not have understood the purpose of the group's efforts.
"I think we've overcome that as far as hurt feelings," Ron says. "We didn't intend to hurt feelings." Ron sent a letter to a group of producers asking to prioritize research topics they wanted. The contacts came from the extension service and from the agricultural industry and commodity groups.
"If, in the future, we have a graduate student who looks to his or her adviser and says, "I really don't know what to work on," a producer can bring them a project and have 15 acres, for example, to do the research on," notes Ron. "Suddenly we have this package put together. We have a body that asks to do research, a location for research, and we looked up and saw what was missing: funding. That's why we went to the legislators. We wanted to have a little bit of seed money so we can bait this seed money. Not just graduate students. This project goes as far down as community colleges."
Producers, facing immediate problems in their crops or pastures, move at one speed, says Ron, and academia moves at another.
"If a farmer or rancher has a bad influx of weed problems in his field, he can't really wait years for academia to figure out some type of spray to put on it to eliminate the problem," he says. "He wanted the answer yesterday. These are the things we are working on now. What we are trying to do is match those two speeds so we can get on the same page of the playbook."