Students learn rangeland management skills at Youth Range Camp
BROOKINGS, S.D. - The 40th annual South Dakota Youth Range Camp will be held June 8-10, 2016 at the Lamphere Ranch near Sturgis.
"The goals of the range camp are to provide an understanding of rangeland resources and a sense of stewardship in natural resource management," explained David Ollila, SDSU Extension Sheep Field Specialist. Instruction during the camp includes components that have a strong biological basis for habitat management of both beef cattle and prairie grouse. Students participate in activities comprised of primarily field instruction and hands-on practice as well as group meetings.During camp, participants practice range plant identification which includes learning several specific plant characteristics that impact range ecosystems. "These characteristics reflect the range plant's life span, season of growth, origin, desirability for grouse food and cover as well as beef cattle grazing desirability," Ollila said. "Students learn to determine ecological sites, arrive at a similarity index by conducting an inventory of the plants present in the ecological site." Utilizing this information Ollila explained that campers are then able to determine the carrying capacity of the rangeland as well as completing habitat appraisal forms to determine suitability of rangeland to support beef Cattle and grouse. Participants then select management practices that will improve the beef cattle and grouse habitat to desired levels. At the completion of the youth range camp participants will be able to:1. Integrate basic plant and soil management and the ecological principles necessary to evaluate habitat suitability.2. Demonstrate that management by humans can influence the range resource.3. Demonstrate a basic understanding of how management affects rangeland and its resources.4. Explain how a management practice that favors one use may not equally favor another.5. Apply a basic understanding of rangeland ecosystems that will last for a lifetime.6. Explain the importance of rangeland stewardship. More camp detailsTechniques to determine livestock carrying capacity are also demonstrated and students determine the pasture size of area needed to support a specific number of livestock for a given period of days. The last day of the third-day of camp concludes with a competition for participants to apply their new found skills. Students are awarded plaques and medallions for exemplary performance. An adult chaperon or advisor is encouraged to be in attendance with students at the camp to help with supervision and conducting educational activities. Lodging will not be provided. Each participant is responsible for securing their lodging and transportation to and from camp daily. Camp will end each day at 5:30 and supervision will not be available after that time. The camp sponsored by SD Section of the Society for Range Management, USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service, Belle Fourche River Watershed Project, SD Cattleman's Association, SD Grassland Coalition, SD Parks and Wildlife Foundation- Tony and Dar Dean Outdoor Education Small Grants Education Program, SD Conservation Districts, SD Association of Conservation Districts, SD Association of Agriculture Educators, USDI-Bureau of Land Management, United States Forest Service, Black Hills Chapter of Pheasants Forever, Meade County School District and finally SDSU Extension. To registerFor further details visit iGrow/events at http://igrow.org/events/south-dakota-youth-range-camp/ or contact Dave Ollila at David.Ollila@sdstate.edu. Ollila can also be reached at the Rapid City Regional Extension Center at 605.394.1722.