BROOKINGS, S.D. - Krista Ehlert will be serving South Dakotans as the new SDSU Extension Range Specialist.
"Krista's research experience will serve as valuable background when helping South Dakota's livestock producers control invasive plant species and maximize rangeland production," said Alvaro Garcia, SDSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Director & Professor.
In her role as an Assistant Professor and SDSU Extension Range Specialist, Ehlert will work with other faculty and SDSU Extension staff to develop and execute programming that will contribute to sustainability of rangelands and contiguous ecosystems throughout South Dakota and beyond. Ehlert will work with stakeholders throughout the state to improve conservation and natural resource management.
"Ninety percent of South Dakota was once rangeland. Today, it's down to 40 to 60 percent. We are losing a key part of what makes South Dakota, South Dakota," Ehlert explained. "I want to help find ways to increase sustainability of rangeland in South Dakota. One out of every five jobs in the state is in the agriculture industry. When you talk about rangeland management, it is integral to the state's agriculture industry."
More about Krista Ehlert
Krista Ehlert attributes her passion for range management to graduate research she worked on while pursuing a Master's and Ph.D. at Montana State University, which focused on ecologically based invasive plant management.
"What I love about range science is it is a hands-on, applied science," said Ehlert, whose research projects focused on enhancing efficacy of herbicides to control cheatgrass on Montana range, pasture and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP); and optimizing efficacy of Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass, downy brome) biological control in crops and rangelands.
She added that while pursuing advanced degrees, her graduate mentors instilled in her an appreciation for the impact that can be made through Extension programming.
"I learned that if you want to understand and solve a range problem, it is important to first connect with the people directly impacted - livestock producers. Ranchers have a direct impact on the land and they want to manage the land in sustainable and regenerative ways," she said.
She is also eager to connect with the next generation of South Dakota ranchers through her work with SDSU Extension.
"Ranching is part of the legacy of South Dakota. We need to find ways to increase student interest in ranching and range science. I want to work with teachers to increase knowledge and awareness of the importance of protecting rangelands and what careers are available in range science."
Before joining SDSU, Ehlert was a postdoctoral fellow at Trinity College in Connecticut where she taught undergraduates and conducted research.
Contact Ehlert, by e-mail for more information.