Home on the Range
Workman makes a name for herself and the university in rangeland management
By Amanda Cairo
Making the transition from the small town of Grangeville, Idaho, to earning a national reputation for her expertise in rangeland management, Julia Workman is graduating from the University of Idaho with confidence, experience and a plan.
“The University of Idaho really gave me the skills and education that I need to succeed. It was such a blessing to be able to study here,” says Workman, who earned a rangeland ecology and management degree. “It was a good choice for me.”
While she was named the College of Natural Resources Outstanding Senior in Rangeland Ecology and Management, the National Merit Scholar originally was drawn to the university’s agricultural programs. It was after joining the student Range Club — where she studied wide-open landscapes, plants, and fire and grazing — that she discovered her calling.
“I loved the rangeland program, it’s what I’m passionate about,” says Workman. “I didn’t even realize the university had the program, but once I found it and saw the opportunities that were there, that was it.”
Workman is able to share that passion with other students. As a CNR Ambassador, Workman connects with prospective students, especially those considering a range degree, and helps with recruitment. It’s rewarding, she said, to see students from small towns like hers flourish in her college.
“I love being an ambassador,” says Workman. “I really like being involved and feeling like part of a community. I’ve learned so much from all the groups I’ve been involved with.”
She also served as vice president for the CNR Student Affairs Council and has been involved in the University Honors Program. But it’s really the Range Club where she has devoted the most energy, taking part in educational and professional trips across the West.
Workman made the most of opportunities that came her way. She regularly attended the international Society for Range Management (SRM) annual meetings, where her team competed for and won the Rangeland Cup the last two years by creating a scientific poster and video. She also placed first in the Undergraduate Rangeland Management Exam, which will allow her to become a Certified Professional in Rangeland Management after five years of work experience, without taking the official certification test.
“Our team has really been able to give the University of Idaho and our range program a good name,” says Workman. “We’re known as a very competitive school.”
She also served as the first student outreach intern for the Society for Range Management. She conducted multiple interviews with long-term society members and wrote stories about each person, which were published on the SRM blog and presented to SRM leaders.
Perhaps, though, it was the Lemhi County Extension in Salmon, Idaho internship that made the largest impression on her so far. During the internship, she studied long-term effects of grazing exclosures on riparian vegetation and worked with youth in the 4-H program.
“I learned I want to teach, help land managers make a difference, and help people understand agriculture as society gets further away from its food source,” says Workman.
Workman plans to attend graduate school at the University of Wyoming and pursue a career with extension, working with landowners and 4-H youth.
“I was involved in 4-H for 10 years as a kid and loved it,” says Workman, who gained a whole new understanding and appreciation of the program during her internship. “To see it from the other side was really interesting, and this is my way to give back to a program that gave me so much.”
And while she grew up in a small town and plans to work and live in a small community, she knows that based on her education and experiences at the University of Idaho, she has the confidence to go anywhere she chooses.