Thursday, October 21, 2010

SRM Spotlight: Lynne Breese, Pacific Northwest Section

By Julia Workman, SRM Outreach Intern

Lynn (with Bonnie and Kippy) monitoring a prescribed range burn

For ranchers Lynne Breese and her husband John of Prineville, Oregon, membership in the Society for Range Management is about being part of a big family. “It’s like going to a family reunion,” she says of attending SRM functions. Members “don’t always agree, but we can learn from each other and we’ve become such good friends, we can work out problems together.” Since joining the organization in the early 90s, Lynne has certainly been involved in that family.

Lynne was raised in an agricultural setting, with a father who worked as a researcher at the Oregon State University Agricultural Experiment Station in Ontario. She also participated in 4-H, an experience which would later lead her to a home economics degree and a career as an extension agent with Oregon State University.

Lynne joined SRM in the early 1990s, about the time she took a role in the full-time management of the ranch. She says that then as now, it was important to both her and her husband (who had joined a few years before) that SRM provided them a medium for meeting people with a variety of experiences on rangelands, and allowed them the opportunity to learn more about the things they wanted to do with the ranch.
John and Lynne’s ranch has been in the family for well over a century, since John’s great-grandfather homesteaded it in the late 1880s. She notes that in photos of the original homestead, there is a conspicuous lack of invasive junipers. Juniper control is thus an important part of the couple’s management. She relates how she and John often host student groups who come to “learn on the land,” by working on the ranch: “they help cut little junipers to eat,” she explains with a chuckle, noting that all parties seem to benefit from the exchange. The different activities these students engage in during their time on the ranch are important learning events for all participants, and Lynne believes such events to be one of the best ways for young members to learn from older ones. Especially in light of current workforce trends away from agricultural backgrounds, Lynne emphasizes that students need to “get out and get their hands and feet dirty” in order to learn. They need to work with those who live and work on the land in order to gain a practical knowledge of the field. “You don’t do that by sitting at a computer,” she adds, also noting that agencies and retirees are great resources to tap for gaining this sort of experience.

However, hosting student groups is just one example of the Breeses’ participation in SRM. Lynne has served as director of the Pacific Northwest Section and is currently a co-editor for the Pacific Northwest Section newsletter. John and Lynne also frequent various SRM events, from conventions to workshops. Lynne remarks that participation is crucial to the continued success of the organization, along with members’ willingness to talk and listen to each other. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” she cites as the best advice she has ever received, “but do be willing to listen.”

Lynne’s vision for SRM involves an organization that “continues to do what we do.” She notes that the need for practical range management skills is not going to go away; if anything, it will only become greater. Society for Range Management members should thus be prepared to reach out to potential new members through agencies and personal invitations, with an ability to explain SRM’s relevance to all stakeholders—both those who manage the land and those who benefit from its successful management.

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