Wednesday, July 6, 2011

High Desert Youth Range Camp Celebrates 1st Successful Year!

By Brenda Smith, Pacific Northwest Section

Group Photo

An extraordinary tradition that has been dormant for many years was renewed when 16 high-school age students from across Oregon and Idaho gathered June 19th-23rd for the first annual High Desert Youth Range Camp at the Northern Great Basin Experimental Range (NGBER) 40 miles west of Burns, OR. Well over a year ago a range camp committee made up of ARS scientists, Oregon State Cooperative Extension specialists, Treasure Valley Community College instructors and Harney County school district science teachers organized to develop the curriculum and logistics to host the camp at the 16,000 acre rangeland owned by the USDA-ARS. All told volunteers from nine agencies and local ranches committed their expertise and time as camp counselors, instructors, cooks to direct activities for the 4 day camp. The camp staff and presenters were all absolutely outstanding and put a tremendous amount of work and sacrifice to make range camp in Oregon a reality. The Pacific Northwest Section of SRM board of directors was instrumental in supporting the camp and provided a substantial financial donation to see range camp get off to a good start. A number of conservation districts and even private ranchers supported scholarships for students to attend.

Riparian Studies
Top of the World (or a Butte)

Activities included map reading, GPS, compass and orienteering, soils investigation activities, plant identification and monitoring, interactions of fire, grazing and weeds, Juniper woodland investigations, wildlife presentations on mule deer and sage grouse, a visit to the nearby Hotchkiss Co. Ranch, riparian zone investigations, student team presentations, daily team building and leadership activities, and more. The students in attendance were interested, engaged, and adventurous and worked extremely well together. It was a downright “fun” learning experience. The top student selected to attend the SRM High School youth forum is Isaac Studtmann from Long Creek, OR. Just a few of the comments received from the students include “I feel that I have taken so much out of this camp and could see myself working in this field”, “I feel so much more informed about issues with rangeland management. I am now considering a career in rangeland management much more now!” and “Overall I think camp went very well and I am happy I came. Thanks for doing this for us.”

Soil tests
We all are very excited to have a range camp back in Oregon and look forward to keeping the renewed tradition going and growing.

No comments: