Thirty-one youth from throughout New Mexico gather at the Valles Caldera National Preserve for the second annual NM Youth Ranch Management Camp. Photo by Sharon Niederman for the New Mexico Beef Council
New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service has gathered youth age 15 through 19 to participate in a unique summer experience, June 3-8 at the Valles Caldera National Preserve.
Thirty-one youth from Silver City to Ft. Sumner to Acoma are attending this second annual New Mexico Youth Ranch Management Camp where they are receiving training in all aspects of ranch management.
“The camp is tailored to be one of the most unique educational experiences these kids may ever see, even in their college career,” said Manny Encinias, NMSU Extension beef cattle specialist. “Ranching is an aging industry. People who own and manage ranches are getting up in age. The question now is who is going to fill their boots. Hopefully, this camp will be an opportunity for young people to see that there are career opportunities in this area of agri-business.
“The camp is tailored to introduce participants to new concepts and ideas, advanced technologies, and applied skills that are used on commercial beef cattle operations. They will be learning cutting edge practices.”
The youth will participate in a wide variety of hands-on field experiences and lectures. Early in the week John Wenzel, NMSU Extension veterinarian, Eric Scholljegerdes, NMSU ruminant nutritionist, and Encinias will address beef cattle health, handling, nutrition and reproduction.
Participants will have the opportunity to work with Jack Thomas, NMSU meat scientist, to fabricate a beef carcass into wholesale and retail cuts of beef.
Midweek, NMSU range management specialists Chris Allison and Nick Ashcroft will provide instruction on range management, plant identification and stocking rates.
Sam Smallidge, NMSU Extension wildlife management specialist, along with state wildlife management experts, will provide a broad-scope program on wildlife management.
Stan Bevers, ranch economist with Texas A&M University, will lead the cattle marketing session, where the youth will gain a well-rounded perspective of ranch economics and the dynamics of purchasing and marketing cattle.
“Participants will leave this experience with a greater appreciation for not only new skills and practices, but also the economics of each practice as it relates to cash-flow for a ranch in the Southwest,” Encinias said.
Throughout the week, participants will work in teams and ultimately present a ranch management plan before a review panel to compete for prizes and scholarships.
“This program is not just for FFA and 4-H members,” Encinias said. “It is for any youth who has an interest in the areas of ranching, range management, wildlife habitat management and cattle marketing.”
Partnering with the Extension Service in providing the camp are New Mexico Beef Council, Beef Industry Improvement of New Mexico, the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association and the Valles Caldera National Preserve.