Ram Tour connects campus with community, invites faculty to explore engaged scholarship

Ram Tour group photo
Ram Tour participants at the Colorado State Forest Service headquarters.

Since 2013, Colorado State University’s Office of Engagement and Extension has hosted CSU Ram Tour for new and newly promoted faculty and staff. The tour is a two-day traveling seminar designed to create new connections and spark ideas for future collaboration and engagement across Colorado. Participants hear from CSU community partners, leaders and employees across the state about local needs and the ways we’re working together in communities.

This year, President Joyce McConnell, Provost Mary Pedersen and Vice President for Engagement and Extension Blake Naughton hosted the ninth annual Ram Tour through northwestern Colorado with stops including the new CSU Spur campus at National Western Center, a guest ranch near Granby, partner sites in Steamboat Springs and the Colorado State Forest Service headquarters.

“Connecting our campuses with Colorado communities is a vital and exciting part of our mission as a land-grant institution, and the Ram Tour is such a wonderful way to do that,” said President McConnell. “I loved seeing our community partnerships in action and learning about the ways that CSU is engaged in our communities.  As we continue to pursue our collaborative Courageous Strategic Transformation process this fall, I know we will discover possibilities for richer, broader future collaborations.”

At each stop, participants learned about engaged scholarship and research happening in partnership with local communities across the state. Discussions included topics such as East Troublesome fire recovery efforts, water resource management and community engagement at CSU Spur in Denver, among others.

President McConnell and faculty members at a ranch in northwestern Colorado.
Ram Tour included a stop at C-Lazy-U Ranch where participants learned about wildfire recovery and mitigation efforts.

“With CSU Extension offices reaching every county in Colorado, the Office of Engagement and Extension has long served as a bridge between campus and community. By connecting CSU faculty to opportunities for community-engaged scholarship and research, we enable the co-creation of solutions around important local issues and needs,” said Naughton. “Empowering individuals and communities to thrive through lifelong learning is core to who we are.”

Unexpected connections

Faculty members spent time connecting with others and building bridges across colleges and departments. For Emily Morgan, Director of Dance in the School of Music, Theater and Dance, the most valuable part of Ram Tour was the connections made.

“Connecting with others meant time to brainstorm, time to talk with others way outside my subject area, and simply time to forge new relationships,” said Morgan.

Jennifer Martin, Associate Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and Meat Extension Specialist, also noted the value of connections, specifically with Colorado communities.

“The most valuable part of Ram Tour was the engagement with our partners and community members around the state. Specifically, to form new collaborations with them or see the impacts of successful collaborations that already exist,” said Martin.

Ram Tour participants visited the Spur campus in Denver.
Ram Tour participants visited the new CSU Spur campus in Denver for a hard hat tour.

Engaging across the state

Ram Tour brings together a diverse array of faculty, staff and community stakeholders. Some faculty members bring with them a robust history of community-engaged scholarship and research. As an Extension specialist and member of the Provost’s Council for Engagement, Martin has a history of community engagement.

“Through my Extension appointment, I am fortunate to have a built-in network to facilitate and collaboratively explore community engagement,” said Martin. “However, Ram Tour opened so many more doors that I hadn’t even considered. I look forward to working with those partners that I met or was connected to through Ram Tour.

Other faculty are exploring community engagement in different ways. Through her work with the School of Music, Theater and Dance, Morgan is conducting a series of community-engaged dance workshops with underrepresented groups around the state.

“We just held a workshop for our community with Urban Bush Women,” said Morgan. “This spring, we’ll take almost 20 dance majors out into the community to perform, teach, and dance with community members of all ages. Our very lofty goal is to get some sort of dance opportunity for community members into every county in the state.”

Community-engaged scholarship connects CSU campus to Colorado communities, facilitating collaboration in topic areas from agriculture to the fine arts and everything in between.

Additional opportunities to engage

The Office of Engagement and Extension (OEE) hosts an annual Forum as an opportunity to deepen connections with partners across the state and join conversations on engagement and engaged scholarship at CSU.  This year’s Forum is scheduled for Nov. 8-10 on the Fort Collins campus.

On Nov. 9, join in conversations around five working areas of cross-discipline University engagement, impact and collaboration: Food & Agriculture, Natural Resources & Sustainability, Economic & Community Development, Youth & Family, and Health & Well-Being. The goal of these sessions is to continue to find areas of shared interest and collaboration between centers on campus, engaged researchers and scholars, and the work of OEE colleagues across the state.

View the agenda and register for forum. A CSU EID is required to register. Learn more about engagement at CSU at engagement.colostate.edu.