BROOKINGS, SD - Youth gained an understanding of rangeland resources and a sense of stewardship in natural resource management during the 36th annual South Dakota Youth Range Camp was held June 4-6 at the Lamphere Ranch near Sturgis, SD.
"Instruction included components that have a strong biological basis for habitat management of both beef cattle and prairie grouse," said Kyle Schell, South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension Range Field Specialist. Students participated in activities comprised of primarily field instruction and "hands-on" practice as well as some group meetings.
During the camp, participants practiced range plant identification which included learning several specific plant characteristics that impact range ecosystems. These characteristics included the range plant's life span, season of growth, origin, desirability for grouse food and cover as well as beef cattle grazing desirability.
Students learned to determine ecological sites, arrive at a similarity index by conducting an inventory of the plants present in the ecological site. Utilizing this information campers were 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 selected management practices that would improve the beef cattle and grouse habitat to desired levels.
At the completion of the youth range camp participants were 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.
A competition was held the last day of the three-day camp for participants to apply their new found skills.
Results are as follows:
Beginning Camper Division: 1. Eli Srtska, Newell; 2. Ben Stiegelmeier, Java; 3. Myles Addison, Kadoka; 4. Casey Bauer, Newell; and 5. Mariah Kessler, Pierre;
Returning Camper Division: 1. Alisha Sheeler, Vale; 2. Brian Champion, Nisland; 3. Ethan Eddington, Newell; 4. Austn Thayer, Martin; and 5. Hannah Rose Higdon, Dupree.
The camp was sponsored by the South Dakota section of the Society for Range Management, USDA-NRCS, Belle Fourche Watershed Project, South Dakota Cattleman's Association, South Dakota Grassland Coalition, National Wild Turkey Federation, SDSU, South Dakota Conservation Districts, South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts, South Dakota Association of Agriculture Educators, U.S. Department of Interior-Bureau of Land Management (USDI-BLM), Meade County School District and SDSU Extension.
For further details or to sign up for the 2013 South Dakota Youth Range Camp contact Kyle Schell, SDSU Extension Range Field Specialist at Kyle.Schell@sdstate.edu or Dave Ollila, SDSU Extension Sheep Field Specialist at David.Ollila@sdstate.edu. Both can be reached at the Rapid City Regional Extension Center at 605-394-1722.