The definition of "noble" is good, honorable, respectable and righteous. Add the words "Research Institute" and you will begin to understand the opportunity of a lifetime and the story of my summer.
Noble Research Institute has a mission to "deliver solutions to great agricultural challenges." Being a Lloyd Noble Scholar changed me; there are no other words, no other explanations, no shortcuts. I started my summer with Noble interested in soil health and range management and finished it not only better at range management, but better at understanding grazing animals, conservation practices, soil health, carbon capture and grazing strategies.
For my major project, I collected vegetative data along transects to quantify the effects of restorative practices that were applied across multiyear treatments. My project, "Evaluating Vegetative Responses with Different Range Management Techniques," included two ranches: one that belonged to Noble and one with a cooperating private producer. Through this experience, I was able to see the benefit of applying range management and conservation practices on a real-life operation.
Russell Stevens, Rob Cook, Cole Fagen, Cresten Sledge and I setting up transect sites at Cross Timbers WMA.
I also attended the Natural Resources Conservation Service's plant-herbivore interaction course taught by Dr. Fred Provenza. The course covered how livestock graze, their forage selection patterns and the effects of grazing on plants.
Dr. Fred Provenza and I at the Stark Ranch.
At the Grassfed Exchange in South Dakota, I met Dr. Christine Jones, Dr. Richard Teague and Gabe Brown. Each of them are experts in soil health and know how to utilize livestock through grazing strategies to increase range conditions.
It was a surreal experience because Dr. Jones has been one of my career role models since I was in high school and I read many of Dr. Teague's publications for my minor project this summer.
Dr. Jones teaching me about soil health.
Throughout my summer, I was able to visit multiple private operations for several reasons. On one visit, I helped conduct a prescribed fire to restore native perennial grass systems and increase species diversity, improve forage palatability and reduce woody plant invasion. While burning, I carried a drip torch, monitored weather, learned about burn plans and watched fire behavior.
Nicole Sederstrom, Natalie Graff, Mckenzie Carvalho, Kelly Kowis and I having a blast on a prescribed burn.
And while I will forever be grateful for all of these experiences, my overriding memories of being a Noble Scholar are the opportunities to work with conservation consultants such as Rob Cook, Jeff Goodwin and Russell Stevens, meet and develop lifelong friendships with the other Noble Scholars, participate on the farm visits and interact with real-life livestock operators.
Rob Cook and Jeff Goodwin always reminding me to smile and to help Make America Graze Again (look at Jeff's cap).
If I had to summarize my One Noble Summer, I would say "D.I.F.G.T.B.N."
Daggum, It Feels Great To Be Noble.
About the Author
Chali Simpson is a 2018 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture. She is a sophomore at New Mexico State University, where she double-majors in range and soil science and minors in microbiology.