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Connecting youth with natural resource management

The Issue

California's four million acres of rangeland are an important natural resource, providing wildlife habitat, scenic open space and an economic base for many rural communities. Over recent decades, California rangelands have been threatened by invasive weed species, wildfire, concerns over water quality impacts, and conversions of the land to other agricultural uses or to development. Another, perhaps less visible, threat to rangelands is a steady reduction in the number of students preparing for careers in natural resources and range management.

What Has ANR Done?

UC professors and UC Cooperative Extension specialists and advisors, in conjunction with the California Pacific Section of the Society for Range Management, have taken an active role in educating California youth on the importance of the state's rangelands. With the backdrop of the University’s Richard J. Elkus Ranch in San Mateo County, up to 25 high school students every year spend one week learning about range management at Range and Natural Resource Camp. Students learn there is more to range management than just grazing livestock. UC scientists and educators teach classes throughout the week on range ecology, plant identification, geology, soils, ranch management, fire management and ecology, and riparian ecosystems. All speakers and adult volunteers talk to the students about their careers in range management, providing a look into possible career options available to college graduates.

The Payoff

UC helps pique high school students' interest in range management

Range Camp has been actively turning out students with a new understanding if range management for the past 24 years. At least a few students from each class have pursued degrees in range management and are now working for range management agencies or managing ranches. The camp has even attracted students from the inner city, such as Los Angeles and Stockton, locations where there is traditionally little or no interest in range management. Even if students ultimately do not pursue careers in range management, camp participation gives them a basic understanding of the ecosystem.

Clientele Testimonial

Quotes from 2008 camper evaluations:
“I had a wonderful time and I hope I can come back next year. I learned a lot, and it will definitely benefit me and help me in my future.”
“Best time I’ve had my whole life”


Supporting Unit:

Stanislaus, San Joaquin, and Santa Clara Counties
Theresa Becchetti,(209) 525-6800, tabecchetti@ucdavis.edu
Sheila Barry,(408) 282-3106, sbarry@ucdavis.edu