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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Unique New Mexico Youth Ranch Management Camp seeking applications

VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE, N.M. - The New Mexico Youth Ranch Management Camp wants youth ages 15 to 19 from across the state and the region to come experience the beauty of the mountain range while learning about the many aspects of managing a modern-day ranch.

New Mexico Youth Ranch Management Camp participants receive hands-on experience in fabricating beef into retail cuts that camp cooks use to feed the campers. This year's camp will be June 9-14. Deadline for online registration is May 1. (Submitted photo by Sharon Niederman)

New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service anticipates repeating the success of the New Mexico Youth Ranch Management Camp by hosting the third annual event June 9-14 at the Valles Caldera National Preserve in northern New Mexico.

"The camp has been a great success across the board," said Manny Encinias, NMSU Extension beef cattle specialist and camp committee member. "The event is designed to be a unique educational experience and the camp the past two years has definitely exceeded our expectations."

The camp 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.

Last year's 32 camp attendees represented ranching families from 19 New Mexico counties.

With positive outcomes from last year's camp and the strong support of the program by the state's beef industry leaders, the planning committee hopes to have more youth from across the state apply for this year's camp and fill the 30 available slots.

"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.

The youth selected to attend this year's camp will receive training in all aspects of ranch management. Each day is filled from sunup to sundown with educational activities as the campers learn vital information in beef cattle production, marketing, and range and wildlife management. Each day's lessons build to the final day of presenting ranch management plans to a panel of New Mexico cattlemen.

"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.

This year's camp is open to youth from New Mexico and outside the state.

Applications are due May 1. A panel of industry leaders will review the applications and select participants by May 5. Successful applicants must submit a $300 camp fee by June 1. For more information contact Pat Torres at 505-471-4711. To submit an online application, visit http://nmyrm.nmsu.edu.