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NMSU to host youth ranch management camp at Valles Caldera National Preserve

New Mexico State University?s Cooperative Extension Service hopes to build on the success of its New Mexico Youth Ranch Management Camp when it hosts the event June 8-13 at the Valles Caldera National Preserve in northern New Mexico.

Man talking to youth in front of cow in squeeze chute.
Eric Scholljegerdes, NMSU animal and range science assistant professor, talks to New Mexico Youth Ranch Camp participants about a cow's digestive system. Registration deadline for the annual camp is May 1. Visit http://nmyrm.nmsu.edu for more information. (NMSU photo by Jane Moorman)

?The camp has been a great success,? said Tom Dominguez, Otero County Extension agricultural agent and co-chairman of the camp. ?The event is designed to be a unique educational experience and the first two camps definitely exceeded expectations.?

The camp, designed for 15-to 19-year-old New Mexico youth, is an effort to reverse the aging trend in ranching. Nationally, the average age in the ranching community continues to increase as more young people are opting to leave the ranch for careers outside production agriculture.
As a result, the fabric of rural economies, as well as ranching tradition and cultures, are in jeopardy. In a rural state like New Mexico, the situation has significant implications.

With positive outcomes from the camp and the strong support of the program by the state?s beef industry leaders, the planning committee is hoping more youth from across the state apply for this year?s camp.

?The ranch camp is a tremendous opportunity for high school youth and is the first of its kind across states I have been involved with,? said Dennis Braden, general manager of Swenson Land and Cattle Co. in Stamford, Texas, and a camp volunteer and presenter.

?What the kids learned at the ranch camp has a direct impact on the quality of beef produced for future generations,? said Dina Reitzel, executive director of the New Mexico Beef Council. The council was one of many industry organizations and companies that helped sponsor the inaugural camp.

The youth selected to attend this year's camp will receive training in all aspects of ranch management, including raising and marketing beef cattle, wildlife management and range management.

?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,? said Jack Blandford, Luna County Extension agricultural agent and co-chairman of the camp.

Throughout the week, participants will work in teams and ultimately present a ranch management plan before a review panel as they compete for prizes and scholarships.

Applicants should contact Dominguez at 575-437-0231 or tdomingu@nmsu.edu or Blandford at 575-546-8806 or jbland@nmsu.edu or visit the camp?s website at http://nmyrm.nmsu.edu for information and to submit an online application.

Applications are due May 1. A panel of industry leaders will review the applications and select the participants. Successful applicants must submit a $300 camp fee prior to camp.