The Range Science Education Council and the Society for Range Management proudly present the 2019 Early Career Teaching Award to Dr. Troy Ocheltree, Assistant Professor in the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship at Colorado State University. The Early Career Teaching Award recognizes individuals in the early stages of their career who demonstrate excellence in teaching, advising, and mentoring undergraduate students.

Dr. Ocheltree teaches Forest and Rangeland Ecogeography, a course taken by both range and forestry students at CSU. He has redesigned the course with new content and hands-on lab activities, and incorporates new pedagogical approaches to improve learning. The result, according to his students, is a course they describe as “…one of the most interesting and impactful…” courses they have had, and one that led even forestry students to love grasses and rangelands! Dr. Ocheltree mentors 15 – 25 students each year, including three undergraduates through their Honors Theses. He also includes undergraduate research assistants in his lab, providing them with opportunities to develop independent work within ongoing projects. To date at least four undergraduates have had exceptional opportunities to be involved in research resulting in 3 publications in high-impact journals.

Students respond to Dr. Ocheltree’s teaching and mentoring with tremendous enthusiasm. His teaching evaluations range from 4.5 to 4.9 out of 5 for both instructor and course, and he was selected as the “Outstanding Instructor in Rangeland Ecology” in 2015 and 2018 by the CSU Rangeland Ecology Club. Students are very effusive in their comments about Dr. Ocheltree. Some highlights from their letters of support include:
The level of enthusiasm that Dr. Ocheltree brings to the classroom is infectious.”
He is “incredibly generous with his time”, “made an indelible mark on my career trajectory”, “cares about everyone’s well-being”, and fostered “learning in a captivating way”.
His “fascination with the material was palpably contagious”; his “teaching style is both zany and incredibly engaging”, and he “sparked inspiration and love of rangelands in all students who have the privilege of taking his class”.

Dr. Ocheltree’s student-centered approach to teaching is not only creative, but also helps students make the connection between the knowledge they gain in the classroom to their own personal experiences. As stated in one letter, “Troy is a wonderful educator and a fantastic human being.” For these and many more reasons it is clear that Dr. Ocheltree is a valued teacher and mentor, and is deserving of this award.
Thus, for his outstanding contributions in the classroom and beyond, the Range Science Education Council and Society for Range Management are proud to recognize Dr. Troy Ocheltree with the 2019 Early Career Teaching Award.