Ranch Management Undergraduate Degree Program

Educating a New Generation of Ranchers and Ranch Managers

Over eight years ago, one of One Montana’s major projects was to develop a ranch management undergraduate major for a rural land grant university in the West. This was done because there was perceived to be a real need for such a program by owner/operators, nontraditional landowners, existing ranch managers, ranch realtors and community leaders. With support from federal, state, and private monies, we spent several years developing both a curriculum and a strategy on how that curriculum could be implemented. We also envisioned a national association of certified ranchers who, among other responsibilities, would oversee an extensive internship program by those pursuing an undergraduate ranch management major.

While strongly supported by a wide variety of interests, including the Montana Stockgrowers Association, the dean of the college of agriculture at MSU at that time decided not to go forward for a variety of what he perceived as internal political issues.

In December, 2014, a new dean was appointed for MSU’s College of Agriculture. At One Montana’s urging, he established a committee at the start of 2016 to come up with a strategy to implement an undergraduate degree in ranch management.  We are well represented on the committee, including One Montana's president, Bill Bryan; One Montana board member Eric Wickens; and Scott Hibbard, our former contractor who came up with the curriculum and implementation strategy eight years ago.

At the outset, an expansive vision for such a program was developed. The program is being viewed by the committee as having the potential to be the cutting edge ranch management undergraduate program for the Northern Plains, Northern Rockies, and the intermountain region of the Pacific Northwest. The program would not only involve an undergraduate degree, but also a master’s degree, along with an extensive internship program that would lead to a certified rancher certificate. A national association of certified ranch managers also would be established that would oversee such a program. In addition, at least one, if not two, faculty chairs could be established.

An early survey of Montana Stockgrower Association members and a variety of stakeholders shows that such a program is overwhelmingly needed. We at One Montana are thrilled by this development and with our role in the program's development, which is even more expansive than what we were proposing back in 2008! 

For more information on this exciting development, contact Bill Bryan, President.