Custom genotyping arrays provide a flexible and accurate means of genotyping single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in a large number of individuals of essentially any organism. However, validation rates, defined as the proportion of putative SNPs that are verified to be polymorphic in a population, are often very low. A number of potential causes of assay failure have been identified, but none have been explored systematically. In particular, as SNPs are often developed from transcriptomes, parameters relating to the genomic context are rarely taken into account. Here, we assembled a draft Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella) genome (assembly size: 2.41Gb; scaffold/contig N50: 3.1Mb/27.5kb). We then used this resource to map the probe sequences of 144 putative SNPs genotyped in 480 individuals. The number of probe-to-genome mappings and alignment length together explained almost a third of the variation in validation success, indicating that sequence uniqueness and proximity to intron-exon boundaries play an important role. The same pattern was found after mapping the probe sequences to the Walrus and Weddell seal genomes, suggesting that the genomes of species divergent by as much as 23 million years can hold information relevant to SNP validation outcomes. Additionally, re-analysis of genotyping data from seven previous studies found the same two variables to be significantly associated with SNP validation success across a variety of taxa. Finally, our study reveals considerable scope for validation rates to be improved, either by simply filtering for SNPs whose flanking sequences align uniquely and completely to a reference genome, or through predictive modeling.
Tags: New York Jets/NFL Draft/Sam Darnold/Zach WIlson April 6, 2021 /Sports News – Local With Darnold gone, Jets focused on finding next franchise QB Written by FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailNEW YORK (AP) — Joe Douglas and the New York Jets discussed, debated and contemplated every scenario regarding Sam Darnold.The choice to ultimately trade the promising but inconsistent quarterback was a sensible but far from simple solution. Douglas said Tuesday it was the best decision for the entire organization and being able to hit the reset button.The Jets are back in a familiar spot: searching for a franchise quarterback after dealing Darnold to the Carolina Panthers on Monday for a sixth-round pick this year and second- and fourth-round selections next year.And it appears BYU quarterback Zach Wilson could be the Jets’ choice at No. 2 overall in the draft. Associated Press
The 2016 Wandering Owl Beer & Wine Trail will take place on Saturday, October 15, from 3:00-6:00 p.m. at Wesselman Woods. Stroll along the network of trails surrounding the Nature Center, enjoying live music from Salt The Earth, and sampling a variety of beer, wine & food from local vendors.Tickets are $50 and are available both online and at the Nature Center. Online tickets do incur a processing fee.To preserve the quality of this event, tickets are limited to 250. Please note, this event is for ages 21 and over. Please be prepared to show ID at the entrance to the event.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmail
Sierra Club Urges Vectren to Make ChangesNOVEMBER 16TH, 2016 MATT PEAK EVANSVILLE, INDIANA Move beyond the expense and hazards of coal. That was the message of the Rally for a Clean Energy Future hosted by the Sierra Club Wednesday.Evansville residents and Vectren customers gathered at the Four Freedoms Monument to urge the utility company to invest in clean energy.Vectren is in the process of finalizing it’s 20 Year Energy Plan.The Sierra Club presented a letter to the Vectren CEO.In the letter, the group asks Vectren not invest $240 million into plants to keep them running, but instead retire them.In a statement from Vectren, the Corporate Communications Director says the company has conducted a series of public meetings, and Vectren has modeled scenarios it will present at the final public meeting.The final Vectren Public Stakeholder Meeting is November 29th at its headquarters.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmail
IntroductionChief Secretary, distinguished guests, Lords, ladies, gentleman, it is a pleasure to address you this evening.As a finance minister, I am often told to keep things small, not big.As the Minister responsible for taxation, I look to Hong Kong for inspiration.Because your tax code is 270 pages. Our is 17,000.So I have some lessons to learn!One Country, Two SystemsLadies and gentlemen, over twenty years ago Deng Xiaoping and Margaret Thatcher agreed the principle of “One Country, Two Systems” ……a structure designed to protect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, independent judiciary, rule of law, and rights and freedoms of its residents and others in the Special Administrative Region.And at the time, of course, it was not without its critics……many people felt a sense of trepidation about what was to come……with some prophesising a highly regulated economy or indeed, even economic decline.But the critics have been proved wrong, and Hong Kong has indeed stood the test of time.“One Country, Two Systems” has protected the success of Hong Kong……and it is vital that this continues……as part of the faithful implementation of the Joint Declaration.More than ever, Hong Kong has been characterised by strength and prosperity.Today it stands as one of the most thriving and energetic cities in the world……like London, a global financial powerhouse……and the gateway to China – one of the biggest markets in the world.And more than ever, we should perhaps reflect on Hong Kong’s legacy……and take on board the lessons of history.Because in the immortal words of Mark Twain, history doesn’t repeat itself – but it does rhyme.As the UK prepares to the leave the European Union……to face the world ……we acknowledge that we will always be a part of Europe……but we are ready to take control of our future……as a sovereign nation, as Global Britain.Just as Hong Kong challenged the naysayers all those years ago……our country has the chance to do precisely the same.The ties that bind us togetherChief Secretary, by geographic fate, the UK and Hong Kong stand as lighthouses in our regions……bordered by sea, gateways to commerce, with a shared history of entrepreneurship.But geo-politics is not the only thing that binds us…… because we both share certain special qualities.We are filled with a sense of determination, of adventure, and in our economic affairs – an unwavering commitment to cross-border trade.These are qualities that will allow the UK and Hong Kong to survive the turbulence of the 21st century……and grasp the opportunities it undoubtedly presents. And, as the UK faces a time of unprecedented change in her history, we are looking to our international partners……and especially to those with which we have deep historic ties.The enduring relationship between the UK and Hong Kong has its foundation in a shared history……but it has grown into so much more than that.Just look at the 300,000 British citizens resident in Hong Kong……to the tens of thousands of Hong Kong students who study in the UK every year……to the British Council’s Festival of Ideas next January – which will showcase the best of UK creativity and innovations.So, we have a strong base of shared values……and a legacy of exchange – be it of ideas, culture or people.But as a Treasury Minister, it is the continued strength of our economies……and the two-way flow of trade and investment upon which I want to focus on this evening.Tapping into new markets togetherOur two great economies are deeply intertwined……Hong Kong remains the UK’s second largest export market for goods in the APAC region……investment from Hong Kong into the UK has increased by 35% since 2010……and Hong Kong is home to over a third of all British investment in Asia.And as we leave the European Union, we will look to further enhance our partnership with Hong Kong.Because despite appearances, no financial centre is an island……both the UK and Hong Kong are leading global hubs……in facilitating trade and prosperity throughout Europe, Asia and beyond.And we are stronger when working together.Through the annual London-Hong Kong Financial Forum, we have committed to explore and capitalise on the issues facing our financial industries.It is only by harnessing the forces set to reshape financial markets – rather than avoiding them – that we can continue the UK and HK’s mutually beneficial relationship.Globalisation, climate change, infrastructure, technology……should be taken and acknowledged for what they are……as opportunities to seize.Take for example the untapped potential of green finance……and the role it could play in funding 21st century corporates……and facilitating infrastructure projects worldwide.In Asia – this could range from the Greater Bay Area to the trans-continental Belt and Road Initiative……and here at home, I am proud to see green finance being put to use as we build the UK’s Northern Powerhouse.Green finance has the potential to be a rapidly expanding force of financing.To meet the infrastructure needs of developing Asian economies would require $1.5 trillion in investment per year until 2030.We should all rise to the challenge as to how green finance can be targeted to plug that gap.This vision will only be attained if leading financial centres – like London and Hong Kong – work in tandem to scale-up the sector……and foster the right environment for a competitive green marketplace to emerge.Green finance of course is but one area of innovation that the UK and Hong Kong can capitalise on.At this dinner last year, the UK-Hong Kong FinTech Bridge was witnessed by the Chief Executive and the Chancellor of the Exchequer……to enhance connectivity……pool our mutual expertise……and permit our firms to access the capital, talent, accelerators and start-ups in both jurisdictions.The bridge that extends between us will apply cutting-edge technology to turbo-charge our financial industries.I am a great believer that FinTech has enormous power to transform international finance……and create a more efficient, productive and bespoke industry for corporates and consumers.So I am thrilled that the UK and Hong Kong remain at the frontier of this sector.In the months and years ahead, green finance and FinTech are but two aspects of an ambitious bilateral agenda.I welcome the Chief Executive’s support of our Strategic Dialogue on Trade Partnership……which gives us a way to identify and address any remaining barriers to trade between the UK and Hong Kong.And we are preparing for the 8th London-Hong Kong Financial Forum……working to ensure corporates and investors can access new opportunities……and delivering the innovation and thought leadership necessary to meet challenges bigger than any one financial centre.Because the joint investment opportunities are vast – just take the rise of China.It is expected that up to $600 billion in foreign funds will enter the Chinese stock market in the next 5 – 10 years……channelled through Stock Connects that are operational in Hong Kong……and soon to launch in London.Already around 60% of all Chinese capital flows through Hong Kong……often hiring UK professional services firms as intermediaries and advisers.The opportunities to fully explore the potential of investment in China ……is something we should both consider a priority in the years ahead.I know I speak on behalf of the Chancellor and the Government when I say that we are committed to exploring the synergies between Hong Kong and Global Britain……collaborating to bring us both greater prosperity and competitiveness.ConclusionSo, to conclude this evening, I want to share this quote with you:“Britain must always think and act internationally. But rather than rely on our influence within the confines of a narrow Europe I would have us fulfil our destiny as a nation with global interests and a special understanding of the world derived from our history.”That was Margaret Thatcher speaking in Asia before the handover of Hong Kong in 1997.And her words have never been more relevant.As we prepare to face the world as Global Britain, eager to embrace the opportunities this country voted to explore……we are looking beyond Europe; we are looking East.There has never been a better time to unlock the full potential of our relationship with Hong Kong, a natural ally in the East.I look forward to strengthening the bonds between us……for the years to come.Thank you all very much.
The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts is now seeking entries for its 2020 Annual Awards of Excellence (AAE).Applicants must be working full-time in the UK as a chef, pastry chef or waiter and should be aged between 20 and 26 at the close of entries on 10 February 2020.Since it began in 1983, more than 650 people have won the award, which organisers described as the most prestigious available to young professionals in the hospitality industry.The AAE is an examination rather than a competition, and all candidates who achieve the standard of excellence set by the judges will win the AAE.In addition, the winning candidate who scores the highest marks in each section will be named the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Young Chef, Young Pastry Chef and Young Waiter of the Year 2020.Last year, Charles Parkins, commis chef at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton in Oxford, was named Young Pastry Chef of the Year.Last year’s examination required entrants to create15 vegan bonbons, 15 Swiss rochers, 15 marshmallow lollipops, and a 20cm christening cake entremets-style that sat on top of a nougatine stand.
Bassist, Josh Myers, best known for being in Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, is currently working on his revived side project, Big Words. With two upcoming dates in July and potential for more in the fall, Live For Live Music chatted with Myers to find out more about what’s going on with Sister Sparrow and to learn more about what he’s been up to recently.L4LM: Take us through your younger years. What were some of your influences? Who inspired you and how did you find your way into the music industry?Josh Myers: I started playing music when I was about 6. I grew up outside of Boston and got into classical piano for a number of years. I never really got good at that. Right around the beginning of high school, I switched piano teachers. My new teacher was a jazz pianist. Instead of just teaching the mechanics of the piano, he was teaching the mechanics of music. That’s where I started to get really into music.Around 16 or so, I really got into the guitar and it came very naturally to me. Then, I switched to bass about a year later, just as a hobby. This is the same story that every bass player has. There were way too many guitarists in my group of friends. I picked it up for the first time at a friend’s house, who happened to have one, and we played Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” for like six hours with one groove. When I got really into the electric bass, I went through all of my favorite music just playing along to it. It gave me a chance to learn different styles by different people.By the time I got to college age, I was thinking I was going to be a jazz musician. I still play a little bit of jazz, but it’s been taken over more by the stuff I loved in high school, which was The Meters, Soundgarden, Tool. It swings back and forth, whether it’s the ’70’s funk, soul, and groove stuff that really moves me or that really heavy grunge that I just loved and would listen to in high school in my room on loop.L4LM: What is currently happening with Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds? Can you bring fans up to speed on what they can expect next? JM: The guitarist, Sasha Brown, left and began doing his own thing. Unrelated to that, Arleigh Kincheloe became pregnant. There was a long period of time when people were asking us what was going on with the band. We weren’t touring. The main thing that we did was tour. We would occasionally take a break to record. We were never the kind of band that put anything in front of touring, so it was a huge change for us. Post baby, we still have plans to be a band. We are all still in the fold. That’s what we’re all thinking.After Sasha’s departure show in New York, we had about ten shows after that. It was mainly Northeast stuff, and we played some New Year’s shows. We played Bearsville Theater in Woodstock, which was amazing. We opened for Galactic at Playstation Theater in Times Square. Then we went on Blues Cruise in January and had four sets on that boat. After the fourth one, we were all looking around like, “Okay, that was it. We’re on break now.” It was a really strange feeling.Break has been really good, actually. I’ve reconnected with the writing side of myself, and the freelancer side. I’ve had a ton of different gigs, going to different places, doing stuff I haven’t done in the last four years because I’ve been full time on the road. It’s been great.L4LM: This brings us up to your revived project, Big Words. Tell us more about that.JM: After the band realized that we were going to have some time off, I started doing a lot of soul-searching. I did some iTunes library searching and found this music that I had written and recorded back in 2009. The band, Big Words, was completely different. We actually had the drummer from the original line-up of Sister Sparrow, Bram Kincheloe. Basically, I just forgot about it. I remember when I stopped doing it, I made a conscious effort to tell myself that I had been leading and starting bands for my entire career. If I didn’t stop that, I would become one of those people that are control freaks.I wanted to branch out and see what other bandleaders’ styles were. I also wanted to check out my own bass playing and give it a real chance when I wasn’t the one calling all the shots. Fast forward eight years, I’m listening to this music and thinking, “Oh man! I like this stuff. It’s so good.” I totally forgot about all of it. While listening to a few of the songs I was thinking, “I wrote that?”I reached out to a few people that I’ve been wanting to play with, and they all said, “yes.” They are all great guys and amazing players. The goal now is to put this music in their hands and let it breathe. There’s a lot of room for stretching out, and we plan to do a lot of the ‘anything can happen’ attitude with the music. Hopefully, everything will happen.L4LM: You have a few shows slated for July with possibly more in the fall. Is that the plan?JM: That is the plan. We’re working on some more dates in September right now. We’re going to look at more in October. I’m hoping to do a couple weekends every month once we get going, and hopefully, record in the winter.I have a lot going on. Basically, I’m home a lot of the time. I’m still on the road quite a bit, but it’s more of little quick runs on weekends. Being home, I’ve had a chance to really spend a lot of time working on music production, mixing, writing stuff of my own, and working with other writers. You have a lot less time to think when you’re sitting in a van.L4LM: Do you have anything going on during festival season? Are there any projects or collaborations you are working on throughout the summer?JM: As of now, I have one thing booked with a band called The Mammals. They’re up in Woodstock, New York. They put on a festival called The Hoot, which is at the end of August. That’s what I’ve got for festival stuff right now. Next summer, I would love to hit festivals with Big Words in between Dirty Birds dates.The line-up for Big Words for their upcoming shows on July 14th and 15th will consist of Myers on bass, Danny Mayer of The Eric Krasno Band on guitar, Chris Bullock of Snarky Puppy on sax, and Bill Carbone of Max Creek on drums. For more information on Big Words, and how to get tickets for their upcoming shows, please visit their Facebook page. To check out their music, head over to their BandCamp page to take a listen.Words by Sarah Bourque
“I’m a bad influence,” Microsoft CEO and philanthropist Bill Gates told a crowd of graduating Harvard students in 2007. The speech, delivered before a boisterous Commencement crowd, and recorded for posterity, is out of the archive and streaming from the trees — literally.To celebrate the University’s 375th anniversary, Gates’ address — as well excerpts of other famous addresses — will play on loop from trees in Harvard Yard as part of a project called Harvard Voices, which runs today through Oct. 16, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The selections reflect Harvard’s collective memory and continuing dialogue of ideas.“As you walk through the Yard, you will hear the voices of Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and other notables who have spoken here at Harvard in the past,” said University Marshal Jackie O’Neill, whose office has overseen the project. “We hope people will pause for a moment and linger, to reflect on what is being said and on all the history made in the space we hurry through every day.”Harvard Voices: Listen to Gloria SteinemOriginally prepared for the University’s 350th anniversary, the recordings have been updated to include major addresses in the past 25 years by public figures and creative artists, as well as the reflections of notable Harvard speakers, including the likes of Al Gore, J.K. Rowling, Colin Powell, Nelson Mandela, Alan Greenspan, Gloria Steinem, Sandra Day O’Connor, and the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.Feminist activist Gloria Steinem, seen here on Harvard’s campus, is one of the many contemporary voices passersby will hear in the Yard. File photo Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerGates’ self-deprecating remarks were, of course, an acknowledgment of his reputation as Harvard’s most famous dropout. “I’ve been waiting more than 30 years to say this: ‘Dad, I always told you I’d come back and get my degree,’” he said to riotous applause. “I’ll be changing my job next year, and it will be nice to finally have a college degree on my résumé.”Harvard Voices: Listen to Bill GatesNobel Peace Prize recipient Mother Teresa spoke at Harvard’s Class Day in 1982. “I have no gold and silver to give to the American people,” she said, “but I give my sisters, and I hope, together with them, you will … go in haste to find the poor. And if you find them, if you come to know them, you will love them. And if you love them, you will do something for them.”” … Go in haste to find the poor,” Mother Teresa told students in 1982.Harvard Voices: Listen to Mother TeresaIn another recording, poet and Harvard graduate E.E. Cummings recalls his undergraduate experiences in a series of Norton Lectures titled “I — six nonlectures.”Harvard Voices: Listen to e.e. cummings“Unofficially, [Harvard] gave me my first taste of independence and the truest friends any man will ever enjoy. The taste of independence came during my senior year, when I was so lucky as to receive a room by myself in the Yard, for living in the Yard was then an honor, not a compulsion. And this honor, very properly, reserved itself for seniors who might conceivably appreciate it. Hitherto I’d ostensibly lived at home, which meant that intimate contacts with the surrounding world were somewhat periculous. Now I could roam that surrounding world, sans peur if not sans reproche, and I lost no time in doing so. A town called Boston, thus observed, impressed my unsophisticated spirit as the mecca of all human endeavors.”Harvard gave E.E. Cummings the “first taste of independence and the truest friends any man will ever enjoy.”And, delivering a speech to the Harvard Law School Forum in 1962, Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. spoke: “We’ve been able to say to our bitterest and most violent components: ‘We will match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we will still love you.’ ”Martin Luther King Jr.: “We’ve been able to say to our bitterest and most violent components: ‘We will match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we will still love you.’”Harvard Voices: Listen to Martin Luther King JrOther recordings include addresses by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Samuel Eliot Morison, Gertrude Stein, Winston Churchill, George C. Marshall, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, John F. Kennedy, W.E.B. Du Bois, Leonard Bernstein, Barbara Jordan, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Seamus Heaney, Sheldon Glashow, Steven Weinberg, and a unique recording of the riveting last 40 seconds of 1968’s Harvard-Yale football game, in which the Crimson furiously rallied to tie.To listen to the addresses, take a walk through the Yard or visit iTunes.
About one in 20 middle and high school students who chew tobacco and use other smokeless tobacco products also smoke cigarettes, a new Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) study shows. The findings suggest smokeless tobacco products may increase – rather than reduce – health risks from cigarettes and other traditional smokes. While cigarette use has declined over the past 10 years, smokeless tobacco use has remained at 5%, the researchers reported.The group analyzed questionnaire responses from 18,866 U.S. students in sixth to 12th grade classrooms at 178 schools in the 2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey. The researchers found about three-fourths of the approximate 6% of teens in the study who used “chaw,” snuff, or other such products also smoked cigarettes. Teens with friends and family members who smoked were especially at risk of using both.The study, led by Israel Agaku of HSPH’s Center for Global Tobacco Control, was published online August 5, 2013, in the journal Pediatrics.Constantine Vardavas, coauthor and senior research scientist at the Center, discussed the findings August 5, 2013 with the website MedPage Today.“Clinicians when they are engaging an adolescent patient shouldn’t only ask ‘Do you smoke cigarettes?,’ but also ‘Do you use any form of tobacco, including smokeless?’,” Vardavas told MedPage Today. “It’s important that a clinician convey the message that all tobacco products are harmful.” Read Full Story
The young Blake family left Boston and moved to Big Timber, Mont., in the early 1970s to try their luck at cattle ranching. Since then, Francis ’61, Sandi, and their sons, Peter ’93, Alex ’96, and Amory ’98 (who was born a few years after the move) have spent the better part of five decades turning a patch of unloved dirt into a ranch and nursery built for sustainability. Alex, who was just a month old when he arrived in Montana, now runs day-to-day operations with help from his father and younger brother, Amory. He says that his parents recognized early on that the long-term viability of the business would depend on embracing smart conservation practices. The Gazette recently spoke with Alex, who was an economics concentrator and heavyweight crew team captain at Harvard, about the business and his views on the future of regenerative ranching in Montana, and across the country. BLAKE: While we have a long way to go on this front, our long-term goal is to restore our rangelands to their historic potential. This would mean much greater plant diversity, increased soil organic matter, better wildlife habitat, and ultimately healthier, happier cows. Some of the specific goals and targets that we think about are increasing our livestock carrying capacity through better grazing management, further reducing the need for livestock (hay, protein supplements) and chemical (herbicide and pesticide) inputs, and developing a herd that’s a better fit for our environment (smaller-framed, better adapted to our harsh summer and winter climate). Through our involvement in a soil carbon program we’re taking a lot of baseline soil samples that will allow us to track organic matter and soil carbon levels. The program has a 30-year commitment, and we hope to see significant improvements over that time period. All of these goals tie directly to our bottom line. Considering the relatively small scale of our operation, we know that without making continuous improvements to our management skill set and on-the-ground practices we’ll have a hard time keeping this ranch economically viable.In the spirit of enterprise diversity, we’ve also developed a grass-fed beef program that will improve financial returns on our cattle herd. We sell directly to consumers who are interested in supporting our care for the land and animals. These animals are finished here on grass, never in feedlots, are handled using low-stress herding techniques, and have never received hormones or antibiotics, so we feel confident that we’re selling a great product. Ultimately, we would like to market all of our cattle through this program or a grass-fed beef cooperative that shares these management principles and values.GAZETTE: Talk about the climate of sustainable ranching, and your place, in the state of Montana.BLAKE: We consider ourselves fortunate to be working with many like-minded partners in the sustainable/regenerative ag movement. I work part-time with a great nonprofit called Western Sustainability Exchange (WSE) that’s providing resources to ranchers using regenerative practices, and there’s a great network of progressive ranchers spread across the state and region who are alumni of schools and workshops that promote sharing ideas and alternative management strategies. We’re still a very small percentage of the overall ranching community (and I want to acknowledge that many/most of the “traditional” ranchers care a lot about conservation and good management practices too), but I think the movement has been gaining a lot of interest as producers become more aware of the realities of climate change and resource scarcity.GAZETTE: What is the future of sustainable ranching more broadly?BLAKE: I’m really excited about the growing interest in understanding soil health and learning about how we can build and restore healthy soils on our native grasslands. A soil health conference held in Billings a few months ago drew close to 400 participants. That same conference drew only about 50 participants just a few years ago. We see similar interest in WSE workshops that address grazing management, low-stress livestock handling, and “drought-proofing” ranches, among other topics, so I’m optimistic about the future of regenerative ranching as younger generations see the imperative to be better stewards of our land, water, and wildlife resources.We know that consumers are also demanding more accountability in how land and livestock are managed, so being in a position to meet and document these expectations is important for the future of our industry. In my opinion, the potential for building soil organic matter and carbon sequestration though better grazing management is one of the biggest and most important developments in our industry. This is why we’re really excited to be one of the first ranches to sign up with a new grasslands soil carbon program, which will pay us for verified sequestered carbon. This program is unique because it also provides up-front funding for infrastructure improvements, through stock water and fencing, that will increase our ability to manage our grazing.Interview was edited for clarity and length. Q&AAlex BlakeGAZETTE: When did your family start thinking about the importance of sustainable practices?BLAKE: My parents realized soon after they moved our family here in 1973 that protecting our grasslands and conserving our precious soils and water resources was really important in making this ranch viable. In the early years they started fencing off riparian areas and adopting rotational grazing practices. They formalized their efforts to this end in the mid-1980s when my dad attended holistic resource management trainings, which promote “healthy land, healthy food, and healthy lives,” and further realized that there were some alternatives to the traditional practices that were in favor at the time.At the same time my mother, who started the nursery in 1977, was seeing increasing demand for native hardy plants and recognized that there were very few, if any, nurseries in the area that were growing and promoting their use in landscaping. There was a clear need for these types of trees, shrubs, and perennials, and she had a strong interest in them, so this was a clear business opportunity for the nursery. Native plants tend to thrive in harsh Montana conditions that can include extreme cold, difficult soil, drought, and heat, as they need a lot less water than many non-native species that are introduced, and which can at times outcompete, or even take over landscapes. My brother Amory now runs the nursery (with valuable support from our mother) and he has continued this emphasis on plants that will thrive in our challenging environment. GAZETTE: Environmental concerns were only beginning to catch on in the 1970s. So was there something about the ranch itself that made your parents so aware of the need for sustainable practices?BLAKE: Our ranch is not large by Montana standards, and we have had limited baseline soil and water resources from the outset, so conserving and hopefully improving what we had was important from day one. We want to give future generations the opportunity to continue living and working on this land. Considering changing climate conditions and uncertainties in our cattle markets, that may not be an option without good management practices. We also care a lot about maintaining open spaces and keeping ranch lands and farmland intact, so not getting ourselves in a financial position where we’d have to consider subdividing has also been an incentive to manage as best as we can. What will make our ranch sustainable in the long term is our ability to work together as family and pursue these passions of ours here on this landscape. I really like that I get to work cattle with my wife, Abby, and other family members, and now my 11-month-old daughter, Mabel, is often along for the ride. It is powerful to share these enjoyable and sometimes challenging aspects of ranching with people we love.GAZETTE: What are some examples of the sustainable practices you employ?,BLAKE: We use regenerative grazing practices that attempt to mimic how this landscape historically would have been used by bison. In practice this means short-duration, high-intensity grazing with an emphasis on long rest periods. Our native landscapes in Montana need grazing; the types of species of plant life that grow in Montana don’t always do well when left to their own devices. A limited amount of grazing can stimulate plant growth, clean up old dead grasses, and as this happens, encourage deeper root growth and nutrient cycling.We have also built a low-input cow herd that fits our environment (low annual precipitation, hot, dry summers, and, historically, cold and snowy winters) and have moved our calving dates to be in sync with our grass resources and more favorable weather. So instead of the traditional February/March calving season, we now calve in May/June when the cows are on better grass (which means there’s less need for feeding hay) and the calves aren’t potentially being born in the middle of a blizzard. As a result of these changes we have almost no sickness in our cows and calves, and we have drastically reduced the need for antibiotics. In addition, we don’t use any hormones in our cattle.GAZETTE: Have you also been able to incorporate new technologies?BLAKE: In terms of powering the farm and nursery, we’ve installed solar panels for tasks like pumping livestock and irrigation water and for powering one of the homes and several outbuildings on the ranch. The nursery has specialized in low-input (drought-tolerant, winter-hardy) and native trees and shrubs for years and we work hard to promote practical landscaping that fits our harsh environment. We have completely eliminated synthetic fertilizers from the ranch and have significantly reduced our use of chemicals (herbicides and pesticides) in both the ranch and nursery.Recently, we started using an app called MaiaGrazing that allows us to track livestock movements and forage resources in real time. We’re also doing more soil sampling that will allow us to receive payments for carbon sequestered as a result of our grazing practices. When we do have to reseed pastures, we now use no-till techniques; this means that, through timed grazing and the use of cover crops, we’re able to avoid disturbing the soil, and we’ve stopped using the herbicides that are typically associated with reseeding. We’ve also recently installed a center-pivot irrigation system that will significantly reduce our irrigation water use. And we’re waiting for my older brother, Peter, to deliver a drone (he works in the industry) to help us find missing cows and to better monitor our range conditions.GAZETTE: Do you have specific goals and targets that you try to strive for? “I’m optimistic about the future of regenerative ranching as younger generations see the imperative to be better stewards of our land, water, and wildlife resources.” The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news.