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New Mexico State University

A Day at NM Youth Ranch Management Camp

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The inaugural NM Youth Ranch Management Camp is well underway at the historic Valles Caldera National Preserve. Twenty-nine participants representing 20 counties in New Mexico are fully engaged in a multitude of educational and hands-on workshops. Their day begins when the sun comes up and finishes long after sundown, with the common goal of developing a ranch management plan with their assigned team. The camp culminates on Friday with each team presenting their ranch management plans to a prestigious panel of judges.

In addition, camp participants are introduced to video interview techniques and how to properly address the media. At the end of each day, camp staff worked late to produce short video clips of daily activities.

Day One: BEEF

The next generation of ranchers will be challenged to maintain a stronghold in a dynamic and competitive global beef industry. On day one of the New Mexico Youth Ranch Management Camp held at the Valles Caldera National Preserve, youth participants embedded themselves in a deep curriculum of global economics, best management practices to aid the production of safe and quality beef, tools to improve the genetic foundation of beef cattle, and how to become a youth and adult advocate for the beef industry.

Day Two: RANGE

Ranch camp participants started off their busy schedules learning basics of range management. Games can be educational, and youth participated in an activity that provided some insight in how some management decisions are made: Learning from others mistakes and successes. Plant ID and range monitoring techniques provided practical knowledge, in field experiences, and the necessity of setting the stocking rates. A demonstration of working cow horses provided insight into proper handling of cattle.


The morning session of Wildlife Day consisted of learning the basic principles of wildlife management. The New Mexico Game and Fish representatives discussed the different wildlife hunting and habitat management programs offered. USDA Wildlife Service representatives discussed the different methods used to manage wildlife damage in New Mexico. The camp participants had the opportunity to shoot air rifles, as well at try their hand at archery. The afternoon session focused on forestry management, as well as how to run a pellet plot to determine elk population estimates.


On Marketing Day, youth were exposed to various ways to market cattle. They participated in a traditional, sale-barn mock sale conducted on-site. They also learned about forward contracting cattle through video and online sales, as well as marketing beef and beef products directly to the consumer.