Courtney Newman of the University of Wyoming has been selected as the winner of the 2022 American Sheep Industry Association Sheep Heritage Foundation Scholarship, which awards $3,000 to a deserving student pursuing an advanced degree in an area of study that will lead to the advancement of the American sheep industry.
“I’m so honored and very thankful for the opportunity to receive this scholarship,” she said. “It will make a huge difference in my studies.”
Working on her master’s degree in Laramie, Wyo., Newman is looking at how blockchain technology might fit in with the American sheep industry.
“A digitized database that is shared and modified cryptographically, blockchain technology would allow us to preserve each past transaction and give each member on the system a copy of all prior transactions related to the item, adding value for the increased available information,” she wrote in her scholarship application. “We are currently working on three proof-of-concept studies relating to wool, small- and medium-sized meat processors, and live animals/animal health.
“Blockchain technology is an emerging technology and not much tangible work has been done to see where it fits into the agriculture model. Consumers keep asking for more information about where their food comes from and blockchain may be a solution to help pass this information along, providing more value back to the producer. A combination of proof-of-concept work and multiple surveys will allow us to see where the industry is at in terms of acceptance, perceptions, and will help us begin to understand the costs and benefits associated with the integration of technology. The project has an expected completion date of May 2023.”
Newman interned with Mountain States Rosen for a summer, which led to collaborating with Dr. Cody Gifford of the University of Wyoming on a research project entitled Estimating Commercial Lamb Carcass Value Within USDA Yield Grade and Camera Grade as Carcass Weight Changes. She’s also interned with Superior Farms at the company’s Denver plant.
Newman led the university’s efforts to receive certification of its sheep flock through ASI’s American Wool Assurance Program. The school’s flock was the first in the United States to reach Level III – Certified status in the 2-year-old program.
“I’m grateful that this scholarship is truly an investment in the future generation of our industry,” wrote Dr. Whit Stewart of the University of Wyoming in recommending Newman. “Having received this prestigious scholarship in 2015, I can say that Courtney is more deserving than I was at that stage in my career. She’s the type that reassures me that our industry will be in good hands amidst the challenges the future will bring.”
ASI – 2022