Meanwhile, back at North America’s biggest outdoor classroom…
There are a lot of things one could do with a successful, 7,700-hectare (19,000-acre) ranch in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Most obviously, of course, one could reap the rewards of a productive cattle operation. For Wynne Chisholm, BA’79, and her dad, J.C. (Jack) Anderson, however, doing the obvious doesn’t appeal; rather, in pursuit of elevating excellence in teaching, learning and research in Alberta’s agriculture community, they gave their ranch away. That remarkable decision immediately pushed UCalgary’s already exceptional Faculty of Veterinary Medicine to become one of the most sought-after programs on the continent.
Dr. Ed Pajor, PhD, is a professor of animal behaviour and welfare, and the inaugural ranch director at W.A. Ranches at the University of Calgary; he also holds the Anderson-Chisholm Chair in Animal Care and Welfare. Over the past year and a half, he has witnessed how this family’s gift (the largest of its kind to any university in North America) has advanced research and transformed the student-experience to a degree no traditional classroom could.
“Having a 1,000-head cattle ranch as part of our faculty is a game-changer,” says Dr. Pajor. “With this ‘living lab’ comes opportunity for university-wide collaborative research, as well as mutually beneficial outreach to the cattle community, including to veterinarians and other ranchers.” One of the goals of the ranch’s activities, he says, is to carry out research to improve management practices for ranchers; the faculty is also constantly refining and enriching academic programming for students, “so we can graduate better veterinarians in the long run who’ve had more hands-on experience in cow-calf and beef cattle care.”