Researcher With Interest in Feed Value of Woody Plants is ASI Scholarship Winner

Researcher With Interest in Feed Value of Woody Plants is ASI Scholarship Winner

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

The New Mexico State University 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-Idaho in 2008. 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.”

Tim Ross, Ph.D., a department head in the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at NMSU, described Stewart as being “committed to the sheep industry.” Stewart’s advisor at NMSU is Dr. Eric Scholljegerdes.

“His research targeted range sheep and when he arrived at NMSU he became the wool team coach for the department,” Ross noted.

Dr. Travis Whitley, Stewart’s advisor at Texas A&M AgriLife Research, recalled his first impression of the Ph.D. candidate.
“The first time I met Whit was a sheep and goat field day in San Angelo and that is all it took to convince me that he could get the job done,” said Whitney.

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