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New Mexico Youth Ranch Management Camp introduces youth to future career

VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE ? The New Mexico Youth Ranch Management Camp was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Twenty-eight youth from across New Mexico attended the 2014 New Mexico Youth Ranch Management Camp at the Valles Caldera National Preserve in June. They are, front from left, Carlton Caramillo of Dulce, Jose Archuleta of Ojo Caliente, Christopher Quintana of Santa Fe, Colton Shaw of Mills, Cody Massey of Tucumcari, Justin Armstrong of Hagerman, Zakery Speir of Deming, Bryce Bitsie of Gallup, and Boone Roberts of Floyd. Middle row are Logan Klump of Animas, John Robertson of Glenwood, Miles Grau of Clovis, Cooper Davis of Texico, Mason Grau of Clovis, Joe Hibbard of Pinon, Abram Chaparro of Clayton, Walker Mize of Mimbres, and Colton Hackett of Alamogordo. Back row are Jessica Hays of Deming, Brianna Lara of Socorro, Hannah Jameson of Weed, Bailie Casler of Crossroads, Katelin Spradley of Nageezi, Anissa Castro of Blanco, Lauren Wilder of Albuquerque, Lily Woodall of Las Cruces, Tayler Anaya of Mountainair, and Alivia Lewis of Los Lunas. (NMSU photo by Jane Moorman)

Twenty-eight teens, an enthusiastic group of instructors from New Mexico State University?s Cooperative Extension Service, and the picturesque landscape of the Valles Caldera National Preserve in northern New Mexico created a unique event for the future ranch managers.

?We are proud to offer this one-of-a-kind program for the future cattle producers of our state,? said Jon Boren, NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences associate dean and director of the Cooperative Extension Service. ?The collaboration between our Extension specialists, county Extension agents and members of the ranching industry has provided an opportunity for the youth to see the many aspects of managing a ranch.?

Attending the third annual camp were Lauren Wilder of Albuquerque, John Robertson of Glenwood, Bryce Bitsie of Gallup, Justin Armstrong of Hagerman, Joe Hibbard of Pinon, Mason Grau and Miles Grau of Clovis, Lily Woodall of Las Cruces, Walker Mize of Mimbres, Colton Shaw of Mills, Logan Klump of Animas, Bailie Casler of Crossroads, Jessica Hays and Zakery Speir of Deming, Colton Hackett of Alamogordo, Hannah Jameson of Weed, Cody Massey of Tucumcari, Jose Archuleta of Ojo Caliente, Carlton Caramillo of Dulce, Cooper Davis of Texico, Boone Roberts of Floyd, Christopher Quintana of Santa Fe, Anissa Castro of Blanco, Katelin Spradley of Nageezi, Brianna Lara of Socorro, Tayler Anaya of Mountainair, Abram Chaparro of Clayton and Alivia Lewis of Los Lunas.

The youth ranch management program focused on providing hands-on training for future ranch managers and stewards of New Mexico?s natural resources. The program is an expansion of the research and education contractual agreement between NMSU and the Valles Caldera Trust.

Camp participants selected for the program came from 21 New Mexico counties to learn science-based skills used successfully on modern-day ranches to improve beef production, natural resource stewardship, wildlife management and fiscal management.

?We challenged these young people with a rigorous program for five full days,? said ranch camp co-director Tom Dominguez, Otero County Extension program director. ?They never seemed to weaken. They were like sponges absorbing knowledge all week.?

During the weeklong camp, participants were challenged 12 hours a day with a college-level curriculum of hands-on activities and lectures.

A Top Hand was selected each day for the enthusiasm they showed during the lectures and hands-on activities. A belt buckle was presented to Lily Woodall on Beef Day, Mason Grau on Marketing Day, Anissa Castro on Wildlife Day, and Bryce Bitsie on Range Day, who received the David Graham Memorial Top Hand Buckle that is sponsored by the New Mexico Section of the Society for Range Management Society in honor of the late Union County Cooperative Extension Service agricultural agent.

Top Hand runners up received engraved knives. They were Klump, Wilder, Anaya, Archuleta, Davis and Jameson.

?Each day?s activities contributed information that the youth used to develop a ranch management plan for the 89,000-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve,? said ranch camp co-director Jack Blandford, Luna County Extension program director.

The camp culminated with the youth presenting their plans to a panel of judges made up of successful New Mexico ranch managers, and an audience that included dignitaries and parents.

The winning team members were Speir, Castro, Klump, Archuleta and Lewis.

?If these young people are a demonstration of what is in store for our industry, the future looks bright,? said Dina Chacon-Reitzel, executive director of the New Mexico Beef Council, one of the camp sponsors.

For more information about the youth ranch camp, visit nmyrm.nmsu.edu.