CHADRON — The new Rangeland Complex at Chadron State College, which provides space to study and complete projects and labs, gives range students a place to call their own, according to rangeland management student Joel Milos.
The complex is situated on a bluff overlooking the scenic 281-acre campus.
It includes a two-story classroom/lab building with dedicated spaces for animal dissection and soil analysis, and the adjacent Coffee Agricultural Pavilion, where students take livestock classes and practice rodeo skills.
Milos, a junior from Bellevue who is working on a rangeland degree with a wildlife management option, said a primary benefit of the complex is access.
“The adjacent pastures and grassland provide the space to practice using the skills and tools that we learn in the classroom,” Milos said.
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Jenna Lincoln, a student from Bartlett who is studying livestock and water resources management, agreed.
“I like the convenience of having discussions and lectures in the classroom and then going outside for the hands-on experience, all in the same class time,” Lincoln said. “I think it helps students better understand what they are learning in lectures.”
Classes in soil science and hydrology make the advantages of the location clear for Micah Scherbarth, a junior from Gordon.
“The range center is close to where many of our holes for studying soil profiles were dug,” said Scherbarth, whose focus is livestock management and agribusiness.
“There is room to work outside to get a little dirty and measure infiltration rates into the soil. With the new range center, I believe the professors are better able to instruct students in a more hands-on way.”
The new building has also been outfitted with specialized equipment that has been valuable for studies, according to Jason Scholz, a senior from Grand Island.
Scholz said a refrigerator for storing animal specimens for dissection and a sifter used in analyzing soil types are among several unique items.
A drying machine used in determining the quantity of organic matter in soil samples has also been a useful tool, said William Krause, a senior from Spring Branch, Texas.
From the expansive windows of the lab classroom, Krause pointed out the location of an experiment that students have been conducting to explore the best way of controlling smooth brome, an invasive grass species. The tests included chemical controls, heavy and moderate grazing and fire.
“We’ll go back in spring and see what the difference is,” he said.
Scherbarth also praised the lab facilities in the new building.
The new facilities and equipment have been good for morale, and should help attract more students to the college's rangeland program, which is one of the largest in the country, said Krause.