Woody Plant Researcher Awarded ASI Scholarship
August 1, 2014

Whit Stewart, a doctoral candidate with extensive experience working with and on behalf of the sheep industry, has been selected as the recipient of the American Sheep Industry Association's (ASI) Sheep Heritage Foundation Memorial Scholarship.

The New Mexico State University (NMSU) student will use the $1,500 award to help complete his graduate studies.

"It was certainly good news for me and I appreciate ASI and the Sheep Heritage Foundation for choosing me," said Stewart, 31, who has combined scholarly work with hands-on work as a ranch hand over the past decade. A stop on his current path was working as an extension educator for the University of Wyoming. "I am eager to finish my Ph.D. and continue my work in the sheep industry."

A native of western New York, Stewart earned his B.S. in Agriculture Education from Brigham Young University in 2005. He received his M.S. in Animal Science from Oregon State University in 2009. In 2012, he began his Ph.D. program - which is actually a collaborative arrangement between NMSU and Texas A&M University's AgriLife Research in San Angelo.

"The primary objective of my doctoral research is to enhance the feeding value of woody plant material to increase sheep producer adoption rate of converting woody brush to feed," Stewart said, explaining his current studies. "My Ph.D. research is evaluating the nutritional characteristics and digestive kinetics of four invasive juniper species common throughout the southwest."

His research also includes an investigation into the effects of feeding ground red berry juniper to pregnant ewes on reproductive efficiency, metabolic function and lamb growth performance."

The annual Sheep Heritage Memorial Scholarship is awarded to students with an interest in the advancement of the sheep, lamb and wool industry.