Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SRM Spotlight: Duane McCartney, Northern Great Plains and International Mountain Sections

By Julia Workman, SRM Outreach Intern

After more than 25 years in the Society for Range Management, Duane McCartney says the best advice he ever received was from a retired scientist in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, who simply told him, “SRM is a great organization and you should join it!” Duane took these words to heart and has been deeply involved with SRM ever since.
Duane is a retired research scientist with Agriculture Canada who enjoys canoeing, cross country skiing, landscape photography, and construction. A Forage Beef Management Systems Research Scientist, he points to his early life experiences in 4-H as the first step on his path to becoming an SRM member. He later attended the University of Guelph in southern Ontario and received a degree in Animal Science before coming to Agriculture Canada. There, he researched cost-saving methods for beef and forage production in West Canada, focusing on management systems in that area. It was during the same period, in Swift Current, that Duane’s mentor, an SRM member, advised him to join the organization. Duane followed this advice and even chartered the Saskatchewan SRM section after becoming a member, at a time when the province had only a handful of SRM members.
Since then, Duane has been heavily involved both as a member of the Nominations Committee and the Awards Committee, on which he has also served as Chair. His advice for younger members who want to get the most out of their membership echoes the same principles he has followed: “The big thing is to be involved.” He recommends that students join and actively participate in their university range clubs while in college, and later in the section associated with their post-graduation location. He adds that section committees are always looking for younger member involvement, which can lead to opportunities for early career members. Further, Duane advises that involvement in field days and local tours, with the chance to interact one-on-one with older members, is a great way to learn and critical to the transfer of knowledge to the next generation.
Throughout his 25 years of involvement, Duane has seen many changes in the demographics of the Society. Membership has fluctuated some, and the younger members, such as students, have taken a larger role. He notes that now the Society has “more ladies—that’s a big one.” There is also a greater emphasis on multiuse and less on ranching now than in the past, though the ranching aspect has made a comeback in recent years. Yet, he says, the main principles are still the same; with good leadership, the Society has been able to change with the times and without altering the things most important to its membership. SRM is, as always, an excellent venue for communication among professionals and researchers, a setting for employers and prospective employees to meet, and a Society which manages to include something for everyone at the national meetings. Duane places high value on the friends from all over the world that the Society has allowed him to make, and the chances to take tours of other ecosystems—“ones I wouldn’t see in Canada.”
The SRM of twenty-five years from now, Duane hopes, will be similar to that of today—a strong organization, and an important voice for range management involving a diversity of people. He sees a big role for SRM as the focus switches from managing rangelands for livestock to managing rangelands for multiuse, and the involvement of a broad spectrum of people as it seeks to meet society’s changing needs.

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