AERS News, March 2020
Message from the Department Head
I left home last Tuesday for two grant project meetings out of state. By the time I returned home, everything had changed. No doubt by now you know that due to the Coronavirus we will be transitioning to online-only classes beginning March 23 (following spring break). It is my hope that we will soon be able to return to our normal mode of operation, providing the high-quality instruction and interaction with students that we are known for. You will read about examples of these in our newsletter, including an article about our Food and Agribusiness Club and Matthew Delbar. You will also learn a little more about Katherine Lee’s research. I hope you enjoy this edition of the AERS newsletter.
Chris McIntosh, Department Head
Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology
Food and Agricultural Business Club
The Food and Agricultural Business Club (FAB) kicked off the semester with their first Boardroom Series event happening outside of the boardroom. The group traveled to Genesee to the Pacific Northwest Farmers Cooperative's processing plant for a tour and great discussion. While at the plant, the students were able to meet with Mac Reynolds, the commodities coordinator for PNW Farmers Cooperative. Students were able to see the processing of garbanzo beans including the cleaning and bagging process. This was the first event for the club in their Boardroom Series that is highlighting vertical coordination in agriculture. The club has a tour upcoming in April where they will be furthering their understanding of vertical coordination through touring a winery and vertically integrated orchard and fruit packing shed. Eric Ball, FAB president commented on the clubs exciting start to the semester.
"The Food and Agricultural Business Club has been off to a great start this semester with two Boardroom Series events in the books, and another event planned along with a tour to wrap up the spring semester.”
Research — Rangeland Economics Explained
Exciting new research to understand rangeland health is underway by AERS Assistant Professor Katherine Lee. Rangeland health can be measured in ecological, social and economic terms. Quantifying the economics of range is not easy, but luckily for the University of Idaho Rangeland Center (and for Idaho), we have Lee hard at work.
Learn more about some of the projects she's excited to work on this year in this 6:40 minute video.
Home on the Range
Growing up in Potter Valley, California, Matthew Delbar enjoyed being around the family ranch and cattle and knew he wanted to be a part of agriculture at a young age. As a child and into high school he started and finished most days working on the ranch. This led to his future career in path rangeland management. When he first enrolled at the University of Idaho, Delbar was set on making a difference in agriculture by pursuing a degree in law. But his focus changed during his time at U of I.
“For a long time, up until sophomore year of college I was planning on going into law,” Delbar said. “Growing up in a highly political area it seemed like a smart and interesting thing to do. After sophomore year and a couple of rangeland internship I realized that law would mean me sitting behind a desk most of the time or in a city. While the ideal of law was that I would be helping farmers and ranchers fight for their rights it wasn’t what I needed to do. I realized I could have a greater influence going out and working rangeland and preventing cases from ever occurring.”
Delbar decided to double major in agricultural economics: agribusiness emphasis from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and rangeland ecology/management with a certificate in wildland restoration from the College of Natural Resources. He will graduate in May 2020.
The Perfect Fit
With the desire to be a part of range and agriculture in mind, Delbar looked at potential universities to attend. It came down to Montana State University and U of I. There was a very unique difference that made him choose U of I.
“With Montana State it was more of me telling them what I wanted to see, and it felt like I was just another student,” he said. “At U of I, I was given a contact to talk to and after getting ahold of them the entire tour was set up and personalized to me. The tour was built for me and I felt more wanted at U of I than Montana State.”
He enjoys “the hometown feel of U of I, you are not in a big city and you can walk to class and are guaranteed to see at least two or three people that you know.”
Delbar is very involved on campus and recommends that anyone coming to U of I should get involved.
”You can’t go wrong if you get involved a lot and early. You won’t regret it,” he said.
He is the president of the Range Club, a member of Idaho Farm Bureau’s Collegiate Young Farmers and Ranchers and a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR) Fraternity. He has also interned with National Resource Inventory and has interned for two years with Westervelt Ecological Services.
“A few things have made my college experience but being a part of AGR and that brotherhood has truly made a huge impact and has created some of the best experiences of my college life,” he said.
After graduation, Delbar hopes to find a career with the Bureau of Land Management in rangeland management and continue to further his education in the field.
“I am excited to go out and gain experience in a field that I enjoy and learn where real world meets academia,” he said.