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Earth Notes: New Mexico Youth Ranch Management Camp

Jane Moorman
New Mexico State University

There are many challenges in Western ranching these days—among them is whether a new generation will want to pursue the life.

The New Mexico Youth Ranch Management Camp aims to attract young people with an interest in working in livestock and agriculture. The camp accepts thirty 15- to 19-year-olds with varying backgrounds from New Mexico and surrounding states.

Participants gather for a week in June at the CS Cattle Company Ranch near Cimarron. But this isn’t your typical crafts and canoeing summer camp. It’s as much about computers and spreadsheets as roping and roundups.

It’s been run by New Mexico State University for almost a decade. The intensive college-level curriculum kicks off on day one with a hands-on beef butchering session, providing food the students will eat each day during camp. Participants also learn about ranching economics and marketing, and wildlife and natural resources. Thursdays are “range days,” when campers spend time on the land, studying grasses and ways to raise cows sustainably.

And on the last day, each team presents a ranch management plan to a panel of judges.

Not all the students will go on to buy their own ranches, or even work on one. So camp organizers introduce them to career paths in related fields—like veterinary medicine, wildlife tourism, and range management. The main thing they hope to do is get young people excited about future prospects in a land-based way of life.

Rose Houk is a Flagstaff-based writer and editor, specializing in natural history and environmental topics.  Rose was a founding contributor of KNAU's Earth Notes and has written nearly 200 scripts for the series. She is also the author of many publications about national park and monuments, along with audio productions. 

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