By Melanie J. Knox, Opinion Editor
Ten agriculture students will drive 1,000 miles to Casper, Wyo., on Jan. 31 for an international conference.
These students, along with Emmett Miller, professor, will attend the conference of the International Society for Range Management, Vegeta-tion and Wildlife.
Miller said students will be exposed to the latest research from professors in that field, as well as have the opportunity to interact with graduate school representatives and possible employers.
Department chair Dr. Foy Mills emphasized the importance of the international perspective.
“It is an international conference, and we are trying to expand our students’ thinking beyond the southwest and teach them to begin thinking nationally as well as internationally,” he said.
The group, made up of mostly seniors, leaves ACU on Friday at noon. The conference is scheduled for Sunday through Wednesday.
Larinda Smith said she is especially excited about gaining insights into graduate school opportunities while she is at the conference.
“A lot of grad schools with good programs in environmental science and range management will be there, which is the area I’m heading into,” said Smith, a senior environmental science major from Abilene. “I want to get a feel for the different schools and this is a great, informal way to do that.”
The department is covering the students’ expenses with private contributions and money set aside for this event, and the Students’ Association is paying the students’ $50 registration fee. Students will stay in the conference hotel and will be able to spend some time looking at the local agricultural ecology, though free time will be very rare.
However, for the trip to Wyoming, Miller said they would hopefully be able to stop and see some historical sites, such as battlegrounds, Indian territories and the Museum of National History in Denver, Colo.
The students have received a school-approved absence and will represent the university while in Wyoming. Miller said the students would be wearing their Ag Club shirts.
“People will know who they are and where they are from,” he said.
Miller also said that people usually call him after the conference, asking about certain students because of the impression they made.
The department tries to attend the international conference every other year, depending on where in the country it takes place. It also attends the Texas conference every year.
“This is not an unusual trip for our students,” said Mills. “We try to get them out as much as we can afford to.”
Next year the conference will be in Salt Lake City, Utah, and in 2005 it will be in Fort Worth. Miller has been approached to help set the ground work for the Fort Worth conference and hopes that the students who attend this year will see how an international conference should work and will be of great help in the planning.
“They are all very excited,” Miller said. “They don’t stop talking about it, and are ready to go now if they could.”