Researchers seeking participants for ranching simulation game |

Researchers seeking participants for ranching simulation game

BOULDER, Colo. — Researchers at the University of Colorado are studying the decisions that ranchers make during and following drought.

They have developed an online game that simulates many of the basic choices a rancher makes as they experience drought. They are looking for participants from the ranching community to play the game, so they can learn from ranchers’ expertise.

Droughts have placed a huge strain on ranching businesses in the west. The drought of 2012 caused the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare 2,245 counties covering over 70 percent of the entire country as disaster areas, caused the largest herd sell-off in at least 60 years, and spurred a renewed interest in drought among the research community.

By playing the online game, producers can help researchers at the university’s Western Water Assessment and Earth Lab learn from the expertise of ranchers and how ranchers use weather and climate information in their decisions. The researchers are actively recruiting participants who are interested in playing the online game. The study usually takes less than an hour to complete and participants are paid $20 for their time, plus they can earn a bonus of up to $20 depending on how well they manage their ranch.

Playing the game is easy. Players are given a hypothetical ranch with a starting herd, bank account and information about rainfall up to the time of decision. They can take this rainfall into account, along with other factors, as they make decisions about selling cattle or purchasing feed. The game itself is sequential, guided, and simple to follow, though the decisions themselves may take some thought.

To participate, click the link below and follow the directions as you go. You’ll watch a brief introductory video, run the simulation, and then take a short survey. You’ll be paid a minimum of $20 for participating and, on average, ranchers will make an additional $10 bonus. Participation will be limited to the first 100 people who complete the study. If this study is full, you can join a waiting list for future studies.

To get started, go to

If you have any questions, please email❖


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