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

YRW Today

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.

Testimonials

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.

Hands down one of the best experiences of my high school!

The Youth Range Workshop was hands down one of the best experiences of my time during high school. It not only trained me on how to evaluate rangeland, it trained my brain on how to think about the whole enterprise. Since then, I find myself using that training in so many other areas in my life, both personal and professional. I'm very thankful for that. I am looking forward to my own children attending someday.
Dustin Dean, PhD (YRW 1994, Partner: Dean and Peeler Meatworks)

Discover a new world of knowledge!

YRW has been the best gift-in-disguise ever for our son. Coming from a small school that did not offer rangeland-related or horticultural classes, he discovered a new world of knowledge and leaders passionate about sharing their knowledge of all things rangeland. He truly met “his people” and was able to immerse himself in what is a life- long learning process. While the workshop is packed with serious hands-on lessons, there are also plenty of fun activities, and many life-long friendships develop there.
Marcy Epperson, (Epperson Ranch, Rock Springs, TX, mom of Virgil)

Range Camp taught me to pursue new ideas and hunt for answers.

Youth range workshop did so much for me. I grew up on a ranch but was ignorant to the scientific knowledge that should accompany ranching. Range Camp taught me to pursue new ideas and hunt for answers to things I had yet to understand because they help you become a better steward. I enjoyed it so much I returned the next two years with a partner organization and made life-long friends there. I also met my husband, Joel Dyer!
Mary Whitworth Dyer (YRW 2009)

YRW taught me about prescribed burning as a management tool

The most interesting thing I learned at YRW was how common fire once was in nature, how prescribed burning can be used as a management tool, and how dramatically it benefits an ecosystem.
Christophe Peralt (YRW 2018, 2019)

I have used the skills I learned in range, wildlife, and ENR Judging Contests

My favorite part of YRW was the prescribed burn. I also really enjoyed searching for different plants for our plant collections and the public speaking at the end of every day. I have used the knowledge and skills I learned in range, wildlife, and ENR judging contests
Dalton Clarke (YRW 2018)

YRW has not only taught me to become a better person, but also to help others.

I had the privilege of going to YRW for two years and I learned something new both years. Each year there is the excitement that new people are coming to learn about range management. I have seen how fun and how much work that YRW can be. YRW has pushed me to not only become a better person but to also help others. I am now attending the University of Wyoming to study range management and If it hadn’t been for YRW I may not have chosen this path. I plan to become a rangeland specialist and a ranch manager.
Emma Waters (YRW 2018, 2019)

I told all my friends about what a great camp this is!

I have told all of my friends about what a great camp Youth Range Workshop is. I have been to YRW twice and I hope to come back again to broaden my own knowledge of rangeland management, how to be better stewards of our land, on how to properly manage it, since it is vital job to our environment. Thank you for hosting such a great program that teaches us the importance of range management.
Jonathan Bartek (2018, 2019)

YRW camp taught me how I can become a successful rancher some day.

Ever since I was about 10 years old, I had this dream to have my own cattle company. Of course, it hasn’t started yet, but going to YRW camp taught me about proper grazing and how to maintain my ranch so that I can become a successful rancher myself one day. I love to speak and I’d have to say one of my favorite parts of YRW was the public speaking. I enjoyed my time being there and loved the energy of the leaders and other campers. Being with them made me strive to be better.
Nina Mata (YRW 2019)

I had a great time learning about rangeland ecosystems!

At YRW I had a great time learning, for the first time, about the rangeland ecosystems. I don’t live in an area of typical Texas rangelands, so the Youth Range Workshop was the first time I got to learn about them, and I want to return so I can learn more about rangelands and their importance in Texas. I especially enjoyed learning to identify the plants in Texas rangelands, and getting to build a plant collection.
Peter Cole (YRW 2019)

Every time I participate in YRW, I learn more!

I have been to the TSSRM Youth Range Workshop three years so far and I have always had a great time. I always enjoy learning more about rangelands and how the rancher can utilize them more efficiently. Every time I participate in YRW I learn more because there is just so much to learn about rangelands. I enjoy learning about prescribed burning. I also enjoy learning about native plants and how they can both benefit the livestock, wildlife, and the landowner. Learning about how range management can benefit livestock and wildlife is a huge deal to me.
Virgil Epperson (YRW 2016, 2018, 2019).

My knowledge from Range camp has helped me immensely with my research project!

While at YRW I really enjoyed learning more about soil. Learning how every soil is unique based on its composition of sand, silt, and clay and how that relates to its characteristics really helped me understand soil better. My knowledge from camp has helped me immensely with my yearlong research project where I find the soil compositions and then compare their infiltration rates. I am currently attending college at TCU and majoring in engineering. While this is not your normal agriculture degree I hope to use it to impact agriculture. My hopes are to develop machines to help with conservation and a variety of other agriculture uses.
Taryn Mitchell (YRW 2018).

YRW taught me how to keep the environment healthy and productive.

I am the 5th generation on our ranch, and livestock is a vital lifeline for our family. Understanding the land and learning to manage it is very important to me. YRW helped me to better understand the environment and how to keep it healthy and productive. My favorite part of YRW was the interactive games that taught us about grazing preferences and competition for food between different kinds of livestock and wildlife and about the ecosystem.
Connie Flutsch (YRW 2019)
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Join us in June!

Are you a high school student 14-18 years old? Lucky you! You are eligible to be a part of Youth Range Workshop! We'll be at Junction, Texas at the Texas Tech University Center June 20-25, 2021. Apply today! We can help you with who to contact for possible sponsorships!

Phone

Dan Caudle: 817-597-0788

Phone

Jenny Pluhar: 806-679-8729