Camp cultivates new crop of students interested in ranch management
A new generation of young ranchers gathered to learn about ranch management from University of Wyoming Extension educators at the Broadbent Ranch near Evanston in late May.
“Anything educational I think is important, and we want to support that,” said Vance Broadbent, owner of the Broadbent Ranch. “I thought it was a good cause and a good program. We wanted to help support it in any way that we could.”
Eleven students from Wyoming, Colorado and Utah were taught on topics in meat science, animal science, economics, ranch recreation and range management. Students were placed on teams that presented a ranch management business plan to a panel of extension educators and Broadbent at the end of the week.
“We had the perfect teams put together,” said Hudson Hill, UW extension educator. “We brought in the perfect specialists to enhance the experience, and we really had it in the perfect place. We had a lot of support from the landowners.”
Four extension educators including Hill, Chance Marshall, Brian Sebade and Barton Stam, put together the camp. Whit Stewart, extension sheep specialist; Shelby Rosasco, extension beef specialist; Dereck Scasta, extension range management specialist; and Brian Lee, extension sustainable agriculture specialist, presented on their fields of expertise. Bridger Feuz, associate director for extension, also helped with teaching.
Students were able to get their hands dirty working with livestock one day and taking soil samples another.
Flint Pokorny grew up on a cow/calf operation east of Lander and was interested to see how the fundamentals of ranch management work on a different operation.
“Our presenters knew a lot about what they were talking about, and the level of depth we went into on all the different topics really exceeded my expectations,” said Pokorny, a senior pursuing a double major in agricultural business and rangeland ecology at UW.
Pokorny will graduate in December and hopes to return to his family ranch after a few years to take it over. This camp was the opportunity he needed to explore new perspectives.
“My parents always told me life is all about perspective and if you stay in your same little pond, that’s all you’ll get to experience,” he said. “But if you go out and see what other people have done, it gives you the chance to open your eyes and kind of makes your own opportunities endless.”
The camp reminded Pokorny to never forget to use his resources when it comes to managing a ranch.
“Sometimes, ranchers tend to be a little stubborn and stuck in their ways and for a lot of things that’s great because they have a lot of background knowledge that has allowed them to be successful thus far,” said Pokorny. “But the only way to grow and continue to improve is to think outside the box. In my opinion, this experience exemplified that by showing just how many resources there are out there.”
Pokorny’s team included Brandon Zobell, Hailey Holden and Meghan Kent. Zobell’s dad works for the forestry service and Holden grew up around sheep and cattle in Utah. Kent didn’t grow up with agriculture but received an undergraduate degree in anthropology and is pursuing a master’s in soil science at UW.
“Our team dynamic was really good,” said Pokorny. “I think all of these different backgrounds allowed us to have some unique ideas and a different perspective on things.”
The winning team members each received a $500 award from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources to be used toward tuition and fees.
While Kent didn’t grow up in agriculture, she was interested to apply what she has learned in the classroom.
“With soil science the department does a good job of integrating a lot of the range and soil and all the different aspects, but it’s still not the same as actually going out and getting the experience in those settings,” said Kent. “I was curious to take what I was learning these last two years and seeing how it actually works in the real world.”
Kent was also intrigued by the opportunity to see another part of Wyoming she may not have otherwise had the opportunity to explore.
“There was no other way I could have gone to the Broadbent Ranch and seen that operation,” said Kent.
The students said the best part of the week was being able to interact with the Broadbent family, said Hill.
Similar to Kent, Lily Hughes, a junior at Utah State University majoring in agriculture education, didn’t grow up in agriculture. She fell in love with agriculture after taking an introduction to agriculture class in high school.
“I was really interested in getting to know different aspects of how to manage a ranch,” said Hughes. “When you are in college, you don’t really get the hands-on experience, and I wanted to know all sides of what it takes to run a ranch.”
She was worried about attending the camp without having a background in ag but was relieved to find students with different backgrounds who offered different perspectives.
“I liked that there were a lot of different backgrounds there, like just from the students and they all ask different questions,” said Hughes. “I don’t have an ag background and was worried it would be people who know everything already, but it’s not like that.”
Pokorny, Kent and Hughes believe anyone with any interest in the industry can benefit from attending the camp.
“Beginners are taught a lot of the fundamentals. and more advanced students with higher knowledge in the topics can expand on that,” said Pokorny. “I think it’s really unique because it can benefit people on both sides of the spectrum.”
The camp was partially funded by a grant from the John P. Ellbogen Foundation.
“We had lots of individuals around the state who were willing to sponsor a student at ranch camp this year,” said Hill. “We had about 80 percent of students sponsored this year.”