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Karen Hickman with her hair down around her shoulders, wearing black glasses. She's wearing a black shirt with a tan, black and white tweed patterned blazer over it, standing in a pasture with brown, dead grass.
As president of the Society for Range Management, Hickman will help promote sustainable, science-based rangeland management for the benefit of plants, animals and humans. (Photo by Mitchell Alcala, OSU Agriculture)

OSU’s Karen Hickman selected president of Society for Range Management

Monday, February 12, 2024

Media Contact: Gail Ellis | Editorial Communications Coordinator | 405-744-9152 |

Karen Hickman, professor of natural resource ecology and management and director of the environmental science program in the Oklahoma State University Ferguson College of Agriculture, is the new president of the Society for Range Management.

Hickman began her year of service on Jan. 30 after serving as second vice president in 2022 and first vice president in 2023. She was also a member of the Society for Range Management’s board of directors from 2016 to 2019.

The international organization advocates for the management and preservation of rangelands, which include 47% of the earth’s land area. The Society for Range Management supports using rangeland for livestock grazing, water management, wildlife habitat, aesthetic value and recreational purposes.

Hickman has been a faculty member in the OSU Ferguson College of Agriculture for 20 years while leading projects focused on proper grazing management, prescribed fire, invasive forages and wildlife habitat.

As president of the Society for Range Management, Hickman will help promote sustainable, science-based rangeland management for the benefit of plants, animals and humans. The organization also oversees collaboration with federal land management agencies to offer training and development opportunities. Rangelands are managed for multiple uses, including grazing, clean air and water, healthy soil and fire protection to support native systems and economic growth.

Hickman said the industry’s biggest challenge involves educating citizens worldwide on rangeland diversity and how range management is a viable career field. As the shortage of range management specialists continues to grow globally, the organization works closely with land management agencies to recruit the next generation of rangeland professionals.

“Range management specialists are considered a mission-critical position within the federal government,” she said. “All national parks, federal lands and millions of acres of public lands are managed by rangeland specialists. One of our goals is to elevate that career path for high school and university students.”

An Oklahoma native, Hickman received her undergraduate degree from OSU in biomedical sciences and a doctorate in biology from Kansas State University.

The Society for Range Management has a strong North American presence with members from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico as well as a large international representation; members from 17 countries attended the organization’s annual meeting in January.

The Society for Range Management plans to increase awareness and promotion of the field to coincide with the International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists in 2026, designated by the United Nations.

“The society has a goal to increase rangeland awareness on a global scale by promoting the ways responsible rangeland stewardship is vital to healthy ecosystems,” Hickman said.

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