Friday, July 8, 2011

Texas Section Youth Range Workshop - 2011

By Jenny Pluhar, Texas Section
The Texas Section just completed our 57th Annual Youth Range Workshop. That’s right…57 years. We had 28 youth and 14 directors. We had six days of fun in the sun. Even had some rain, which is as rare as hen’s teeth in Texas this year!
We began on Sunday afternoon learning about the importance of rangelands. Texas is roughly 60% rangelands that serve as watersheds for some of our largest urban areas, so rangelands here are important to everyone from the city folks to the ranchers, hunters and recreationists. Monday we began plant collections and learned to use GPS on the range. We also began our public speaking exercises. Days began early (thought for the day was at 7 am) and we worked through til 11 pm each night. It doesn’t take long to spend the night at Youth Range Workshop in Texas!

Tuesday, we toured the Landers Ranch, ran pace transects, clipped plots, measured brush density, read photo plots and learned the fine points of utilization, stocking rates and range economics. We were especially honored to learn from Dr. Jake Landers, who attended the very first TSSRM Youth Range Workshop. More recreation, public speaking, and classroom analysis of the data we collected.

Wednesday, we toured two ranches, watched demonstrations of mechanical and chemical brush control, learned about prescribed fire (usually we do a burn, but it is too darn dry!), conducted endangered species surveys, even watched a Texas horned lizard eat harvester ants and burrow into the soil. More plant collecting, recreation, and public speaking.

Thursday, we were at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area where we learned all about the water cycle and how vegetative cover on rangeland impacts everything from evapotranspiration to infiltration rates. We rained on plots, measured soil temps, infiltration, aggregate stability and watched various brush species waste water right before our very eyes. We swam in the spring fed Johnson Creek (awesomely beautiful) and worked on our notebooks which were due that evening. We finished off the day with snacks and a quiz bowl competition that ran past midnight!

Friday morning we did ranch plans, compiling all the knowledge we gained throughout the week. We presented our plans and gathered our things to return home. Closing ceremonies Friday afternoon included recognition for the cleanest cabin, leaders in our cabin groups, champion recreational group, best plant collections and notebooks, the Sam Coleman Award for combined notebook and plant collection achievement and the coveted Trail Boss award.

Woven throughout the week was the concept of stewardship. Directors presented the origins of the word stewardship and the biblical reasons we are called to learn to care for the land and the animals.

Plans are already underway for the 2012 Youth Range Workshop!

Have you attended or helped organize a range camp? What was your experience like?

1 comment:

Stephanie Larson said...

Hi Jenny, great job with the program! Way to blog about it!