UW professor honored for making rangeland science available to all

John Tanaka, associate director of the Agricultural Experiment Station during introductions.
John Tanaka, associate director of the Agricultural Experiment Station

The United States Agricultural Information Network (USAIN) in April will present honorary membership to John Tanaka of the University of Wyoming in recognition for making rangeland science more widely accessible, collecting local knowledge and strengthening knowledge networks.

Tanaka is a professor and associate director of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station, which oversees all research in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and director of the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center (SAREC) near Lingle.

Tanaka and Karen Launchbaugh, professor and director of the Rangeland Center at the University of Idaho, developed Range Science Information System (RSIS), an online bibliographic database of more than 1,400 journal articles and other documents about range management in the United States.

The RSIS provides summaries of articles and provides links to most.

“The RSIS bridges the digital divide between the scientific community and land managers and owners,” notes Sarah Williams of USAIN.

The term rangeland encompasses many open-space habitats grazed by domestic animals and wildlife. RSIS links to articles on rangelands such as Rocky Mountain grasslands, Alaska highlands, Nebraska Sandhills, Kentucky bluegrass, and Gulf Coast prairies and marshes.

Tanaka is also leading Discovering our Nation’s Rangelands, a project to collect oral histories and local knowledge from ranchers and land managers. The project is funded by a grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The third awardee is George Ruyle, University of Arizona professor and Marley Endowed Chair for Sustainable Rangeland Stewardship.

All were recognized for helping the Rangelands Partnership (bit.ly/globalrangelands) connect librarians and rangeland scientists and making range science available to researchers, educators, students, and land managers.

The Rangelands Partnership is a collaboration of 19 Western and Midwestern land-grant universities in cooperation with national and international partners.

The honorary memberships will be presented at the USAIN 15 Biennial Conference in Gainesville, Florida.

For more information, contact Tanaka at (307) 766-5130 or jtanaka@uwyo.edu.