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Ferguson College of Agriculture

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About the Program

Grasslands (including rangeland, pastureland, and haylands) are the principal land resource type in the Great Plains, comprising more than 50% of the land surface area. The major use of the region's grasslands is livestock grazing. Grasslands are also critically important for providing wildlife habitat, recreation, high quality water and air, and other environmental services. Grasslands represent a fundamental resource of the region that determines the environmental and economic future of the Great Plains states.


The program is a 12-credit graduate certificate offered completely online. Students are required to enroll in three core courses (7 credits) and two elective courses (at least 5 credits) to earn the certificate.



Required Courses


NREM 5713: Grassland Fire Ecology (3 Credits)
Ecological effects of fire on grassland ecosystems. Examination of the history of fire, societal use of fire, fire behavior in relation to fuel and weather, and conducting and safety of prescribed burns.


NREM 5692: Grassland Monitoring and Assessment (2 Credits)
Vegetation sampling theory plot selection. Quantitative measures used in vegetation analysis, root growth, and utilization. Use of the similarity index, and plant community health and trends for grassland monitoring and assessment.


NREM 5682: Grassland Plant Identification (2 Credits)
Study and identification of plants that have ecological and/or agricultural importance in the Great Plains. Grassland ecosystems and plant characteristics including forage value, palatability and utilization by both domestic livestock and wildlife. Cultural and historical uses of grassland.


Elective Courses (choose 2)


NREM 5693: Principles of Forage Quality & Evaluation for Grazing Livestock (3 Credits)
Chemical characteristics of forage components and the laboratory procedures used to evaluate forages for grazing livestock. Interactions with ruminant physiology and digestion that influence forage feeding value. Students should have a strong background in the basic principles of chemistry, ruminant nutrition and plant physiology.


NREM 5673: Rangeland Resources Watershed Management (3 Credits)
Management of anthropogenic activities and physical/biological functions or processes on water and rangeland watersheds. Emphasizes preventative and restorative strategies in a natural resource rangeland setting.


NREM 5033: Ecology of Invasive Species (3 Credits)
Ecological principles and their application to invasive species. Discussion of population level characteristics and community and ecosystem level effects of a wide variety of taxa including invasive microbial, fungal, plant, invertebrate and vertebrate examples. Current global consequences and governmental policies/programs designed to limit the spread of invasive.


Possible Careers

Listed below are career options with a Natural Resource Ecology & Management degree.

  • Rangeland Management Specialist/Conservationist - government agencies
  • Land Steward - private organizations
  • Ranch Manager
  • Extension Educator
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Co-op Manager


Application and Completion

You need to complete an application to the Graduate College which requires an application fee and a copy of official transcripts. Please contact Dr. Karen Hickman when you apply. You must file a Plan of Study prior to graduation, and it should be done as early in the program as possible. To complete the Graduate Certificate, you need to complete the correct form after you finish your coursework.

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