Barron S. Rector, SRM HSYF Sub-committee Co-Chair, Papers by HSYF Authors
The High School Youth Forum (HSYF) program began in 1966 at the Salt Lake City Annual Meeting as the Youth Range Forum. High school age delegates are selected for participation in the Forum by the Sections of the Society based on their interest, achievements and activities in range and natural resource management at the Section level. Beginning in the early 1970's, the program format began to encourage youth thought and enhancement of communication skills. A taste of what range professionals do was achieved by asking each Forum delegate to prepare a 6 to 8 minute formal presentation on a range related topic. The HSYF paper presentation session today is treated similar to other formal, educational annual meeting sessions, except that it is a competition. In the late 1980's, the top 2 to 3 winning papers began to be published in Rangelands. For our Section sponsored youth, this effort has brought about a true educational process. These youth select a topic by visiting and working with Society members, research an idea, prepare a written paper, and then present the main ideas of the paper in a formal speaking presentation. The Forum delegates most often continue to use their presentation in other youth competitions, as speakers at various summer camps and local organization meetings, and serve as ambassadors in their states or sections for range stewardship.
FIRST PLACE - Aaron Weishuhn , Texas Section - Reclaiming The Ranch
The life of our rangelands has been drastically altered since the emergence of barbed wire in 1868. Grazing pressure increased as biological diversity decreased and native grasses vanished. For the past 144 years, we have altered our rangelands. Today, as we speak, the worst drought in Texas history has exposed our mismanagement. This drought has brought ravaging wildfires onto over 1 million acres of land in Texas, costing over 1 billion dollars. The remaining land that has not been burned is composed of bare ground and dying trees. Is this drought normal? Should we expect a lasting climate change? We do not know the answer to this question. However, within this unexpected drought lays an exceptional opportunity. In 2011, Texas experienced a drought invoking this grass roots framework for Reclaiming the Ranch. These measures will provide immediate and long term relief to Texas Ranchers through a five step process.
SECOND PLACE - David Everhart, Colorado Section - Drought Management
Many people know that we are in a drought, but do these people know what a drought is and the affects that it has on different environments? Many people do not know how severe drought can be and how it affects different parts of our country. Central Texas was in an extreme drought in 2011. This resulted in the loss of dollars worth of agriculture products. The purpose of this paper is to provide information about drought and how ranchers can plan ahead to deal with and survive this kind of crisis.
THIRD PLACE - Serina Pack, New Mexico Section - What Will Grow: Native Grass Research to Assist in Mining Reclamation Projects
With over 15,000 abandoned mines in New Mexico ranging from Prospect Holes to mines over 500 feet deep, the history of New Mexico mining, leaves a significant mark on the land still today. In Grant County, New Mexico, alone there are estimated to be over 300 mines. Though operational mines today have to adhere to extensive laws and regulations that were in enacted in 1977 and reinforced thereafter in order to protect the environment, there are many old, abandoned mine waste fields that go unaddressed. With costly soil reconditioning processes being the standard practice, this research returns to the fundamentals of matching potential native grasses to the types of contaminated and disturbed soils typically found in Grant County, NM, to determine if there are other, less costly, natural ways to reclaim the lost rangeland.
FOURTH PLACE - Laura Gorecki, Nebraska Section - Hay: It's What's For Dinner
Freezer burnt liver or a juicy cooked to perfection T-bone, beef: it's what's for dinner. I'm sure most of us would much rather sit down to a T-bone steak dinner. Hay: it's what's for dinner for our livestock and they have a preference as well: overly matured rain weathered weeds or prime of the season nutritious native grasses. You want the finest quality, tastiest meal possible and so does your livestock. In order to munch on the opportunities available through rangeland harvesting, we'll cut down some forage varieties found in my hay lands, rake together how I manage my hay lands, and bale up the advantages and disadvantages of harvesting versus winter grazing.
FIFTH PLACE -Kassidy Linaberry, Nebraska Section - Cherry County: Ecological Diversity
When you're travelling across northern Nebraska, and you haven't seen a house for miles; when the answer to the question “Can you hear me now?” is a simple two words: “no signal”; when the few radio stations fade to static and all you see is grass and sky, you may think that Cherry County is one big empty space. But you would be wrong. Cherry County is a vast area full of ecological diversity. Many people and organizations care for and protect this fragile and fascinating land. So the next time you're crossing vast Cherry County, and all you see is land and cows, and your phone informs you it's “searching for service,” remember: there is far more out there than meets the eye. Cherry County is full of ecological diversity.