Oklahoma Section of the Society for Range Management honors managers and professionals

The Oklahoma Section of the Society for Range Management hosted their annual meeting at the Oklahoma Natural Resources Conference recently in Tulsa. Oklahoma SRM is a professional organization comprised of individuals who study and manage rangelands. It is with great pride the OKSRM honored individuals who research and manage Oklahoma rangelands.

Oklahoma SRM president, Jeff Henry, presented five awards.

The Trail Boss Award is the most prestigious award OKSRM offers. Karen Hickman, assistant dean, Academic Programs and Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management Professor at Oklahoma State University, received this year’s Trail Boss Award. Nominators described Hickman as a keen advocate of proper rangeland management, teaching proper management principals in her classroom, presenting proper rangeland stewardship at producer and professional meetings nationwide, conducting rangeland research and being an advocate for controlling invasive plants on rangelands through serving as president and on the board of the Oklahoma Invasive Plant Council. Additionally, Hickman currently is serving on the National SRM board of directors.

The Excellence in Rangeland Management Award is the OKSRM’s producer award. Jason Sargent, ranch manager of the 10,877-acre Mahard Egg Farm, Inc. in southern Oklahoma, does an exceptional job managing rangelands, proven by his selection as the Excellence in Rangeland Management Award winner by the OKSRM. Sargent has greatly improved the cow herd, forage quality and utilization and pasture health. In two years, Sargent increased the cow conception rate by 22% and the steer weaning weight by 110 pounds. Sargent introduced prescribed fire, both growing season and formant, to the ranch. He also uses mechanical treatments for tree removal.

The Young Range Professional Award recognizes individuals who demonstrate extraordinary potential and promise as a range management professional. Adam Gourley, owner of Open Range Management, LLC in northeastern Oklahoma, received this year’s award. Gourley has been managing Oklahoma and Kansas rangelands for over 13 years. In just over two years of business operation, he has restored 3,650 acres to open grasslands or has opened the canopy of closed cross timbers ecoregions with mechanical treatments; he has applied prescribed fire to 8,420 acres; provided wildlife consulting on 22,000 acres; and worked with over 40 landowners. Additionally, Gourley runs a black angus cow-calf operation in Oklahoma and the Flint Hills of Kansas.

The Outstanding Member Award recognizes an OKSRM member who has made significant contributions to the section. Brandon Reavis, State Range Management Specialist, has served the OKSRM extensively. Reavis has held two terms on the Board of Directors, second vice president, vice president and president, Reavis has championed making connections with and mentoring the OSU Range Club students. Reavis has assisted with range club fundraising, meeting places, hosts officer elections and provides a meal at his home. Additionally, Reavis has been a proactive supporter in the development of the re-establishment of the Oklahoma High School Range Camp.

The Outstanding Non-Member Award recognizes someone who makes significant contributions to rangelands across the state. Katie Blunk, owner/operator of the Lazy KT Ranch in northwest Oklahoma, is this year’s award winner. Blunk and her husband Michael run a commercial and registered Black Angus cow-calf operation, sell bulls, focusing on genetics from gate to plate. Their land stewardship incorporates proper stocking rates for appropriate range utilization; patch burn grazing; prescribed fire to restore and enhance healthy rangelands for grazing; controlling eastern redcedars with fire and mechanical treatments.