“I learned that some vegetables have more hormones than beef,” said Sofia Reina, a camp participant from the state of Maryland. And with those words a wave of gratification washed over the room as camp coordinators knew they had made a difference. New Mexico State University has for the last nine years hosted a youth ranch management camp to teach students ages 15-19 about the science behind ranching. This year’s camp was held June 9-14 at the CS Ranch near Cimarron. “It is such a great opportunity for youth to be able to spend time on the CS Ranch with its rich history and dedication to the ag industry,” says Tom Dean, Southwest District Extension Director who has been involved with the camp for nine years since its inception. “Mrs. Davis and her entire family are so gracious by allowing NMSU to utilize this scenic backdrop to teach from.”
The college-level camp accepted 30 students, 27 from all corners of the state, one from Illinois and two from Maryland. Students start first thing Monday morning by processing a half of a beef into consumer cuts while they learn about marbling and USDA meat grades. This beef was used for camp lunches and dinners for the rest of the week. Participants learned about the role genetics play in meat production, how to use artificial insemination techniques for reproduction, and they clipped grass in survey plots to formulate stocking rates. NMSU Cooperative Extension Service Livestock Specialist Dr. Marcy Ward directed a Beef Quality Assurance training where “The kids went through an extensive training in proper health management of beef cattle. After the training they took an exam to become certified in beef quality assurance.”
They ended the evening by beginning work on their ranch management plans as students broke up into teams and started formulating business plans for their theoretical ranches. “The thing I find most attractive about Ranch Camp is that it takes place at a real working ranch and participants are using a real-life ranch scenario to create a ranch plan,” says Sid Gordon, camp co-chair and Otero County Extension Ag Agent. “Participants must work together as a team to come up with a feasible ranch plan and that plan must pass scrutiny. Many activities we have for youth are beneficial, but I don’t think any of them anywhere challenge young minds to think like this program does.”
See the rest of the article in the June/July issue of the New Mexico Farm and Ranch in your mailbox soon.