Oct 112006
 
Authors: Amy Robinson

Just what person or entity can take care of one of CSU’s most important possessions – a 300-pound ram?

The ram handlers, of course.

Dr. Kraig Peel, an animal science department assistant professor, oversees the CSU ram handler operation – a crack team of seven in charge of all things ram.

“Cam is laid back,” Peel said “He enjoys the good life. He knows he’s got it made.”

Handlers’ responsibilities include making sure Cam is healthy and well taken care of.

Patrick Moranville, a senior computer engineering major, has participated in the Alumni Association-supported program for two years. When Moranville was younger, he lived in the city and the only pets he had were dogs.

“I hadn’t thought about it (ram handling) much before coming to CSU,” Moranville said. “It’s a pretty cool opportunity.”

Jennifer Golden, a junior animal science and agriculture business major, echoes Moranville’s sentiments about being a ram handler.

“It’s fun to interact with different people, go to functions and represent CSU,” Golden said. “I have worked with livestock my entire life.”

She said that choosing to balance ram handling with school was not a difficult decision.

“I fit it in like a job. We are all involved in a bunch of stuff, but it’s a priority that we’ve agreed to,” Golden said. “We make time for ram handling.”

Peel said he arranges transportation for out-of-state games, sees that the truck and trailer are in good shape and hands out passes, giving the ram handlers permission to be on the field.

As team mascot, Cam must meet specific United States Department of Agriculture standards. Peel and his team are also expected to keep track of the Rambouillet ram’s health records.

In order to prepare Cam for a game, the ram handlers must train him to walk on a lead. They take him out in public to get him used to being around people.

“The cannon (at games) doesn’t bother him. Cam has to know how to run and how to behave,” the assistant professor said. “He weighs about 300 pounds. He could run off if he wanted to. We have to make sure Cam is safe, clean and represents CSU well.”

Cam is not the only one who must meet certain standards; the seven student handlers must also follow strict guidelines.

“They must have a desire to represent the university at a high-level and be proud of CSU,” Peel said. “We look for students who are not overly involved with other activities because ram handling is a commitment. It’s fun, but it’s lots of work.”

Before being selected, potential ram handlers must complete an application. The top applicants are selected and undergo a detailed interview process, Peel said.

Although having prior training experience with livestock animals is a plus, it is not required to be a ram handler. Students of any major can apply, Peel said.

The ram handlers are in the process of training the new Cam, which is usually a local show ram that has been turned out to pasture. They are teaching him how to walk on a lead and socializing him with people.

“The new Cam is a little hesitant, but he’s pretty smart,” Golden said. “He is going to be great.”

Ram handling advisor Peel agrees with Golden.

“Ninety-nine percent of people can’t tell the difference between the Cams. If you don’t know about sheep, they all look alike,” he said. “We usually have an older back-up ram, one we use and a new one in training.”

As evidence of this fact, Peel said an opposing team snuck into the stalls and spray-painted the wrong ram before the game.

Despite his busy schedule of appearances and the long hours he spends on the road, Peel says Cam, who will be appearing at tonight’s game against Air Force, seems to realize the importance of his duties.

“When he sees the pick-up and trailer, Cam is ready to go,” he said. “He’s figured out the program. He enjoys being gone. I think he’s sad when the trip is over, but he gets excited for the next trip.”

Staff writer Amy Robinson can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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How to become a ram handler

Applications to be one of Cam’s handlers will be taken again in January. To apply, go to https://advancing.colostate.edu/738, and click on the application link.

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