Lincoln, Neb. —Mitchell Stephenson has been permanently appointed to the role of associate director of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Panhandle Research, Extension and Education Center in Scottsbluff. The appointment took effect Jan. 1, 2023.
Stephenson, an associate professor and forage and range management specialist, joined the center in 2015. In addition to his research and extension duties, he has served as associate director position in an interim capacity from 2020 until 2022. Prior to Center Director John Westra’s hiring last year, Stephenson also served as the center’s interim director.
In his new role, Stephenson will split his time between center administration, and his research and extension duties. Stephenson will assist with strategic planning for the research facilities, engagement and strategic direction for the support staff and center-based educators and specialists to enhance connections in the western Engagement Zone, planning public relations to stakeholders and advisory groups, and assisting in outreach, promotion, and communications of activities at the center.
Stephenson’s research has focused on areas with potential impact on managing grazing lands throughout central and western North America. His research in grazing livestock distribution, targeted grazing, social association dynamics within cattle herds, and rangeland resilience on private ranches is cutting-edge and has placed him in a leadership position in foraging ecology.
As an extension specialist, Stephenson has worked to develop a highly visible extension program which already has a major impact on beef cattle production in Nebraska. He directs the UNL Range Short Course and contributes to the Nebraska Range Youth Camp, the High School Range Judging Competitions, the Gudmundsen Sandhills Open House, the Field Day at the Barta Brothers Ranch and workshops and fields days at numerous other locations.
“Over the past few years, Dr. Stephenson has demonstrated that he is an effective, fair and creative leader,” said Derek McLean, dean and director of the Agricultural Research Division in UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “I’m thrilled he will be able to continue to hone his leadership skills, while also continuing his excellent research and extension work.”