Our Roots Run Deep
Youth Range Workshop has a long and interesting history. In 1954, Hershel M. Bell was the President of the Texas Section Society for Range Management and he appointed a committee to make recommendations on student activities. The three member committee included Leo Merrill, C.A. Tidwell, and Roger Q. “Jake” Landers, Jr. who was a college student at that time. The committee recommended a summer camp to study rangelands. Jake remembers that the thought of a range camp had been on his mind since he was in high school.
In 1955, Roger Q. Landers, Sr. became President of the Texas Section. He organized the effort and support to make the camp a reality and asked A.H. “Fred” Walker to be chairman of the Youth Committee to develop the Range Camp.
And so it was that in 1955, “Range Camp” was held in Junction at what was then known as the Texas A&M Adjunct. Fred Walker and Jake Landers were Coordinators and a group of 14 young men attended that first camp. Over the years, Coordinators included Sam Coleman, Garlyn Hoffman, Bob Ragsdale, Barron Rector, and Hoyt Seidensticker. Currently a team of TSSRM members works together to put on Youth Range Workshop, meeting annually to refine and update the ever-evolving program to keep up with the cutting edge of rangeland science.
Yes, the roots of Youth Range Workshop run deep and are firmly anchored in the legacies of those visionary range professionals who saw the need and the opportunity to establish a weeklong educational workshop for young people, dedicated to the science and art of range management and the ecological principles that are the driving force behind the entire discipline.
By the way, Roger Q. “Jake” Landers, Jr., that young college student who was on the committee that established the very first Range Camp back in 1955, is still actively involved with Youth Range Workshop after all these years. Jake is one of the directors and an instructor every year. He is a living legend and an inspiration to all of the YRW participants as well as to the other directors and instructors.
Pictured above is Jake Landers, surrounded by Youth Range Workshop "campers" on the Half Circle L Ranch south of Menard.
To learn more about Our Team, click here.
In 2016 YRW leadership passed to a three member team of Coordinators: Jenny Pluhar, Paul Loeffler and Hoyt Seidensticker who had served as YRW directors for many years. In 2017 a system was established to have three Coordinators, each serving a three year term with one of them rotating off each year and being replaced by a new Coordinator. However, the full YRW leadership team actually consists of the three Coordinators as well as more than a dozen dedicated Directors working together throughout the year to make it happen.
Youth Range Workshop is held each summer at the Texas Tech University Center in Junction. It provides the opportunity for 32-36 Texas high school students from across the state to learn about range ecology and natural resource management. Any high school student (age 14 to 18) who is interested in learning more about natural resources management is eligible to attend.
The purpose of YRW is to prepare students to be knowledgeable leaders in their communities regarding the value of rangelands, the services and products they provide, and the importance of stewardship of our natural resources. Our emphasis is on stewardship, leadership and management of natural resources. These lessons will serve participants well in the future regardless of what career path they choose or where they live.
YRW participants are taught by a diverse group of volunteer instructors including ranchers, educators, scientists, conservationists, university professors, young professionals, consultants, certified prescribed burning professionals, and even a couple of grizzled old veterans of range management. The directors and instructors represent a wide range of age, experience, interests, and areas of specialization, but they are all dedicated to the management of Texas rangelands and working with younger generations to help them understand and appreciate the value of our soil, water, plant, and animal resources.
The students spend six days of intense activity in the field and classroom immersed in activities including
- plant identification and plant collection
- studying species composition and plant community dynamics
- conducting forage inventories
- learning the grazing and browsing habits of livestock and wildlife
- learning habitat management principles and techniques for various species of wildlife
- conducting field tests to determine the benefits of vegetation on infiltration and runoff rates as well as soil erosion
- learning about soil health
- assisting with a prescribed burn on a local ranch
- and how all of these things are tied together
Hands-on learning is the focus, whether it is collecting plants, assisting with an actual prescribed burn, clipping and weighing vegetation, measuring soil temperature, participating in the operation of a rainfall simulator, or learning to use the latest phone app for range management.
To learn more about Our Team, click here.
With 66 years of history, we have literally thousands of excited ambassadors across Texas and beyond! Read what past “range campers,” and a parent or two have had to say about our program!
Questions? Click here.