NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

Professor of range science at NMSU receives prestigious award for local, international efforts

He has been called the "Indiana Jones" of the range profession, who - when he is not in class teaching young minds about range management - is jetting around the world using his own time and money to help underdeveloped countries improve schools and infrastructure, and educate rural people on improved farm production techniques and better grazing management. For his own part, Jerry Holechek sees himself merely as trying to improve the world in any small way he can.

Holechek (in yellow, long-sleeved top) with locals in village.
Jerry Holechek recently received the Frederic G. Renner Award from the Society for Range Management for his efforts, both local and international, to education people on the importance of range science and management. Here, he visits with the Masai tribesmen during one of his visits to Kenya. (Courtesy photo)

The efforts of Holechek, a professor of range science in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences at New Mexico State University, have not gone unnoticed. He was recently awarded the Frederic G. Renner Award by the Society for Range Management. This award is the most prestigious bestowed by the society and is based upon the recipient's sustained outstanding accomplishments and continuing contributions to any aspect of range science and range management.

"I felt very gratified and fulfilled when I learned I had received this award," said Holechek. "I've really enjoyed being here at NMSU. Throughout my career, I've worked with and been mentored by really great people. You don't get an award like this as a loner. It comes from a lot of really good relationships."

"Dr. Holechek is a leader in range science," said Tim Ross, interim department head of animal and range sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. "He is internationally known for his work in grazing intensity and his textbook "Range Management" is widely used in range science curricula across the country. He has made a difference in how rangelands are managed in the western United States."

Holechek is also the senior author on the textbook "Range Management Principles and Practices," which has become the standard undergraduate range management textbook in the world and is now in its sixth edition.

During his 32 years as a professor at NMSU, Holechek has made numerous contributions to the profession of range management through his research, teaching, and invited talks in the areas of range livestock nutrition, range wildlife management, public rangeland policy, rangeland monitoring, and rangeland restoration and improvement.

Through his work, Holechek has visited many places such as the Sudan, India, Kenya, Tibet, Nepal and the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. He has seen all the seven man-made wonders of the world and many of the natural wonders of the world, but experiencing these wonders is just an added bonus for Holechek; his main objective has been to visit the locals and help them in various areas of sustainability. The professor said he likes to visit area schools and give guidance to students on how best to improve their educational credentials. Besides advising people on grazing and range management, he also helps locals sort out health and sanitation concerns, and visits with leaders on ecotourism and how best to use the natural wildlife resources and reserves to boost tourism.

"NMSU is one of the best places - if not the best place - for a range scientist to be because New Mexico is a range state," said Holechek. "I believe the opportunities I have been given here would not have been possible if I had taken a job at another university."

Holechek said one size does not fit all when he visits these international locations. His advice is based on the land conditions and the individual practices of the farmers.

Besides being an international traveler, Holechek also has shared his knowledge closer to home, speaking at area high schools to students regarding the importance of rangelands and range management.

Holechek has authored 151 peer reviewed journal articles and a total of 236 publications relating to range management. His research has been heavily cited by a wide range of textbooks as well as scientific journals dealing with range management and related areas. Range consultants in the Society for Range Management also use his research and textbooks.

Holechek said his passion for range science stays fresh due to the ever-changing conditions and opportunities the field offers. And the way he sees it, there is no end to his climb to learn more about himself as well as the field he is devoted to - and that is a good thing.

"This business is always evolving," he said. "Perfection is something we strive for, but heaven forbid we ever achieve it because a lot of progress - personal development, contributing to the higher cause and doing good - centers around being able to handle constructive criticism, as well as praise, as a way to improve and expand our ideas."