Dr. Mitchell Stephenson

Headshot of Mitchell Stephenson.
Associate Center Director | Associate Professor | Range Management Specialist
Associate Center Director

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Dr. Mitch Stephenson is an Associate Professor and Range Management Specialist with the University of Nebraska - Lincoln stationed at the Panhandle Research, Extension, and Education Center in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. His research is focused on understanding how grazing management decisions influence livestock production, grazing behavior, plant communities, and soil health in the central and western Great Plains. Current research includes studies evaluating the grazing distribution and behavior of beef cows on Sandhills rangelands, timing and intensity of grazing on sandhill subirrigated meadow systems, plant community variability in the NE Sandhills, use of virtual fencing and other precision livestock management tools for defined objectives, targeted grazing and other management of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), drought management response, and patch-burn grazing in the Nebraska Sandhills.



Professional Responsibilities and Activities

  • Professional Affiliations:

    • Society for Range Management;
    - Member; 2009 - present
    - Nominations Committee; 2017-2019
    - Awards Committee; 2020 - 2022
    - Livestock Foraging Behavior Committee; 2018 - present
    - Rangelands Steering Committee; 2022 - present
    - Nebraska Section Council Member; 2015 - present
    - Targeted Grazing Committee; 2015 - present
    • Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition;
    - Advisory Board Member; 2015 - present
    • Multistate Research Groups
    - NC1181, "Enhancing resiliency of bee production under shifting forage resources"
    - W3012, "Enhancing management, production, and sustainability of grazing ruminants in extensive landscapes"
    - The Rangeland Partnership


  • Zhoa, B., M. B. Stephenson, T. Awada, J. D. Volesky, B. Wardlow, Y. Zhou, Y. Shi. 2023. Combined long-term effects of precipitation and temperature variability on semi-arid grazed grasslands of the Nebraska Sandhills: Implications for resilience and adaptive grazing management. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology - In review
  • Stephenson, M. B., T. M. Grijalva, J. D. Volesky, T. Mulliniks. 2023. Effect of grazing subirrigated meadow regrowth on subsequent year hay production and quality Agronomy Journal - In review.
  • Stephenson, M. B., B. L. Perryman, C. S. Boyd, B. W. Shultz, T. Svejcar, K. W. Davies. 2022. Strategic supplementation to manage fine fuels in a cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) invaded system. Rangeland Ecology and Management. In Press.
  • Tobin, C. T., D. W. Bailey, M. B. Stephenson, C. W. Knight, M. G. Trotter, A. M. Faist. 2022. Opportunities to monitor animal welfare through the five freedoms on rangelands with precision livestock management. Frontiers in Animal Science. 3:928514.
  • Raynor, E. J., S. P. Gersie, M. B. Stephenson, P. E. Clark, S. A. Spiegal, R. K. Boughton, D. W. Bailey, A. Cibils, D. W. Smith, J. D. Derner, R. E. Estell, R. M. Nielson, D. J. Augustine. 2021. Cattle grazing distribution related to topography across diverse rangeland ecosystems of North America. Rangeland Ecology and Management 78:191-200.
  • Smart, A. J., Harmoney, K., Scasta, J. D., Stephenson, M. B., Volesky, J. D., Vermeire, L. T., Mosley, J. C., Sedivec, K., Meehan, M., Haigh, T., Derner, J. D., McClaran, M. P. 2021. Critical decision dates for drought management in central and northern Great Plains rangelands. Rangeland Ecology and Management 78:191-200
  • Guretzky, J. A., J. D. Volesky, M. B. Stephenson, K. R. Harmoney, J. L. Moyer. 2021. Interseeding annual warm-season grasses into pasturelands: Forage nutritive value and yields. Agronomy Journal 113:2544-2556.
  • Tobin, C. T., D. W. Bailey, M. B. Stephenson, M. G. Trotter. 2021. Temporal changes in association patterns of cattle grazing at two stocking densities in a central Arizona rangeland. Animals. 11:2635.
  • Guretzky, J. A., Volesky, J. D., Stephenson, M. B., Harmoney, K. R., Moyer, J. L. 2020. Interseeding annual warm-season grasses - A forage production strategy in pasturelands. In review with Agronomy Journal.
  • Pflueger, N. P., D. D. Redfearn, J. D. Volesky, R. Bolze, M. B. Stephenson. 2020. Influence of oat and spring pea mixtures on forage characteristics in different environments. Agronomy Journal 112:1911-1920.
  •  Chen, M., Parton, W. J., Hartman, M. D., Del Grosso, S. J., Smith, W. K., Knapp, A. K., Derner, J. D., Tucker, C. J., Ojima, D. S., Volesky, J. D., Stephenson, M. B., Schacht, W. H., Gao, W. 2019. Assessing precipitation, evapotranspiration, and NDVI as controls of US Great Plains plant production. Ecosphere 10:e02889.
  • Stephenson, M. B., J. D. Volesky, W. H. Schacht, N. Lawrence, J. Soper, J. Milby. 2019. Influence of precipitation on plant production at different topographic positions in the Nebraska Sandhills. Rangeland Ecology and Management 72:103-111.
  •  Stephenson, M. B., H. Wilmer, R. Bolze, and B. Schiltz. 2017. Evaluating an on-ranch rangeland monitoring program in Nebraska. Rangelands 39:143-151.
  • Stephenson, M. B., and D. W. Bailey. 2017. Do movement patterns of GPS-tracked cattle on extensive rangelands suggest independence among individuals? Agriculture 7(58):1-17.
  • Stephenson, M. B., D. W. Bailey, R. Bruegger, and L. Howery. 2017. Factors affecting the efficacy of low-stress herding and supplement placement to target cattle grazing locations Rangeland Ecology & Management 70:202-209.
  •  Bohnert, D. W., and M. B. Stephenson. 2016. Supplementation and sustainable grazing systems. Journal of Animal Science 94:15-25.
  • Bailey, D. W., M. G. Thomas, T. N. Holt, M. B. Stephenson, R. M. Enns, and S. E. Speidel. 2016. Relationship of pulmonary arterial pressure and terrain use of Angus cows grazing high-altitude foothill rangelands. Livestock Science. 190:76-80.
  •  Stephenson, M. B., D. W. Bailey, and D. Jensen. 2016. Association patterns of visually observed cattle on Montana, USA foothill rangelands. Applied Animal Behavior Science 178:7-15.
  • Stephenson, M. B., D. W. Bailey, L. D. Howery, and L. A. Varelas. 2016. Efficacy of low-stress herding and low-moisture block to target cattle grazing locations on New Mexico rangelands. Journal of Arid Environments 130:84-93.
  • Bruegger, R. A., L. A. Varelas, L. D. Howery, L. A. Torell, M. B. Stephenson, and D. W. Bailey. 2016. Targeted grazing in southern Arizona: Using cattle to reduce fine fuel loads. Rangeland Ecology & Management 69:43-51.
  • Stephenson, M. B., W. H. Schacht, J. D. Volesky, K. M. Eskridge, and D. Bauer. 2015. Time of grazing effect on subsequent-year standing crop in the eastern Nebraska Sandhills. Rangeland Ecology & Management 68:150-157.
  • Bailey, D. W., S. Lunt, A. Lipka, M. G. Thomas, J. F. Medrano, A. Canovas, G. Rincon, M. B. Stephenson, and D. Jensen. 2015. Genetic influences on cattle grazing distribution: Association of genetic markers with terrain use in cattle. Rangeland Ecology & Management 68:142-149.
  • Bailey, D. W., M. B. Stephenson, and M. Pittarello. 2015. Effect of resource and terrain heterogeneity on feeding site selection and livestock movement patterns. Animal Production Science 55:298-308.
  • Stephenson, M. B., W. H. Schacht, J. D. Volesky, K. M. Eskridge, E. M. Mousel, and D. Bauer. 2013. Grazing method effect on topographical vegetation characteristics and livestock performance in the Nebraska Sandhills. Rangeland Ecology & Management 66:561-569.
  • Bailey, D. W., and M. B. Stephenson. 2013. Integrating stockmanship into rangeland management. Stockmanship Journal 2:1-12.

Extension Publications

  • Stephenson, M., J. Volesky, W. Schacht. 2019. Grazing management with variable precipitation and plant production in the Nebraska Sandhills. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Circular EC3039. 8 p.
  • Dunn, C., J. Stubbendieck, and M. B. Stephenson. 2017. Common forbs and shrubs in Nebraska (updated revision). University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Publication. EC1180. 260 p.
  • Dunn, C., J. Stubbendieck, and M. B. Stephenson. 2016. Common grasses of Nebraska (updated revision). University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Circular EC170. 178 p.
  •  Schacht, W. H., J. D. Volesky, D. E. Bauer, and M. B. Stephenson. 2011. Grazing systems for the Nebraska Sandhills. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Publication. EC127. 14 p.

Proceedings Papers

  • Brennan, J. and M. B. Stephenson. 2021. Use of GPS technology to better understand livestock behavior. Proceedings of the 27th Range Beef Cow Symposium, Rapid City SD.
  • Stephenson, M. B. 2021. Utilizing technology to better understand rangeland and cattle grazing dynamics. Proceedings of the 26th Range Beef Cow Symposium, Mitchell NE.
  • Bohnert, D. W., and M. B. Stephenson. 2016. Supplementation and sustainable grazing systems. Proceedings of the 5th Grazing Livestock Nutrition Conference, Park City UT.
  • Stephenson, M. B., 2015. Influencing livestock grazing distribution. Proceedings of the 2015 Nebraska Grazing Conference. 98-104 p.

Awards and Honors

  • 2018 Outstanding Young Range Professional Award. International Society for Range Management.
  • 2017 Nebraska Range & Conservation Endowment Grant Recipient. Nebraska Cattlemen Research & Education Foundation.
  • 2017 Innovative New Employee Extension Award. UNL Extension Fall Conference.
  • 2017 ASA Extension Education Community Educational Material. Winner of the Websites, Blogs, and Social Media Category. UNL Range & Forage working group’s agronomy.unl.edu/range-pasture-forages website


Panhandle Research, Extension, & Education Center
4502 Ave I
Scottsbluff, NE 69361


40% Extension, 40% Research, 20% Administration

Professional Interests

  • Range and Forage Management

Professional Society Memberships

  • Society for Range Management
  • https://agronomy.unl.edu/range-pasture-forages