Tuesday, November 9, 2010

SRM Spotlight: Chuck Quimby, Colorado Section

By Julia Workman, SRM Outreach Intern

For the busy professional, it can be difficult to maintain a high level of involvement in a society like SRM. Life member Chuck Quimby, Rangeland Program Manager for the Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region, can relate. This Colorado Section Member enjoys playing the bagpipes (although he declined to elaborate on his skill level), as well as hunting, fishing, camping, and other outdoor recreation. He received his B.S. in rangeland management with a wildlife management minor from the University of Arizona, where he also earned his Master’s degree in watershed management. He has been with the Forest Service for 39 years since graduating, not including seasonal work and a brief stint with the NRCS. Chuck says that his job keeps him busy, which means that he has been able to hold “no real offices” in SRM serving on the editorial board for Rangelands magazine. Yet he has maintained an active membership since the late sixties, when he joined as a college student. He says he joined because SRM was the professional organization for rangeland management.

Chuck decided early to become a life member because of the importance of staying involved with such an organization, and has maintained his membership in the Society for the value of his interactions with other members and access to the Society’s journals.

The Society, Chuck says, is still meeting the needs of the workforce at least as well as when he joined. He cites Rangelands and Rangeland Ecology and Management as examples of these services which also enable the Society to reach a broader and richer audience. He adds that the sections are doing a good job of staying strong and keeping people informed.

Chuck adds that SRM has done a good job of keeping its focus fairly constant, with its emphases on science and on-the-ground application, since he joined—despite some important changes. The “biggest and best” change he has seen has been the outreach to other groups with an interest in rangelands, especially professional groups and the livestock industry. He explains that livestock grazing has recently come under attack in Western culture, and hopes that SRM will be to maintain the importance of livestock grazing on the rangelands of the West. Chuck also hopes that SRM will stay relevant—the “go-to leader” for rangeland management—as it begins to deal with new aspects of rangeland management in a changing culture. “Open spaces” and zoning have not had bearing on rangeland management in the past, he points out, but will play critical roles in the future as urban areas continue to encroach on the rangeland interface. He also notes the demographic change seen all over the workforce today: an aging workforce in both the Society and agencies: “I’ve been around for 39 years, but I’m not going to stay forever,” he says.

Chuck believes SRM should work more closely with universities and agencies to produce graduates qualified to work in a variety of fields. It’s not enough anymore, he says, to graduate with a range degree: a professional needs to be able to interact with fish, wildlife, and water, as well. The presence of older, retired members in the Society is also an important resource for younger members so long as they make use of the opportunity to gain the knowledge born of years of experience.

All that said, Chuck still most highly values how the SRM enables him to interact with “a lot of different professionals in a lot of different fields” and appreciates the training, education, and knowledge exchange it has to offer, as well as being able to keep abreast of the latest science through access to SRM’s journals. He hopes SRM will be able to stay alive, active, and relevant in the coming years, and more engaged in a changing Western America and a changing world. Many groups, he says, don’t like or don’t understand what range managers and SRM do, but he hopes our importance will be made apparent to those people who care about rangelands and even to those who don’t know what rangelands really are.

Chuck has two pieces of advice for younger members. The first concerns SRM involvement: Join, he says, and go to as many functions as you can; when you’re there, interact with other members. Take initiative, because your own interest will carry you the farthest. His second is broader: There is no dumb advice. He clarifies, “You can learn from anybody, anywhere; you just have to be able to put [their advice] in perspective and make it fit your situation.”

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