South Dakota Grassland Coalition

by Garnet Perman

March 2019

For many years, the Coalition has recognized the need to offer continuing education to alumni of its popular grazing school, but has been generally limited by a lack of resources to make this desire a reality. However, 2019 marks a substantial shift in the Coalition’s education program. Through support from NRCS and others, the Coalition is now poised to offer new education opportunities while also focusing on the needs of its large grazing school alumni base, which numbers over 400 students.

The desire to offer continuing education to students has been a personal goal of Belvidere area rancher and long-time Board member Dan Rasmussen. Dan has served the Coalition for nearly twenty years in various capacities including Vice Chair to the board, Education Committee Chair, and Grazing School Curriculum Coordinator, and has a great feel for the need. Most recently, Dan has taken on a new role with the Coalition as its Grazing Land Educator/Consultant. It is with this expanded capacity that Rasmussen realizes the opportunity for the Coalition to reach its full education potential (see Dan’s article “The Grazing School Follow-up Program” in the January, 2019 issue of Grassroots.)

This year we will offer the staple education that has defined the Coalition over the years. Events such as the annual Bird Tour, Chamberlain area Grazing School, pasture walks, guest speakers, Road Shows, and the recently developed Grassland Management School will continue to be offered. In addition, the Coalition will offer follow-up opportunities specifically targeted to alumni of the Grazing and Grassland Management schools. These new opportunities are as follows.

Ranch Consultants Program:

The Coalition recognizes that the Grazing School can be an intensive 2.5 day learning experience, and many leave the school full of excitement at new-found opportunity only to return to the ranch and fall into old habits. Or, they simply cannot navigate all of their potential without some coaching or mentoring. Through a unique partnership with NRCS and others, the Coalition is now offering on-ranch consultation support for Grazing School alumni. A team of dedicated individuals has compiled a well-rounded team of consultants ready to assist alumni in assessing their resources, goals, and future plans. Contact Dan Rasmussen or Judge Jessop for more information on this program.

Grazing and Grassland School Alumni Ranch-Based Refresher: June 19-20.

The Coalition recognizes that some folks need a day away from the ranch in the company of like-minded people to hit the re-set button. To address this need, Board member and Murdo area rancher Brett Nix will be hosting this first ever Refresher. This will be a ranch-based event where the Nix’s will discuss their transition from row crops to grass-based agriculture, goal setting, resource planning, grazing techniques, etc. Participants will not only be able to observe the ranch operations, but will be ample time allowed for questions, answers, discussion, and socialization among attendees in a true information-sharing atmosphere. Space is limited. To register contact Pete Bauman or Judge Jessop.

West River Grazing School: June 25-27.

This new school is being offered in addition to the traditional Chamberlain-based Grazing School. The focus of the West River school is simply to offer an alternative climate, growing conditions, and other considerations that more accurately reflect ranching in western SD. The school will take place in Wall; field activities will be hosted by Coalition Board member and Quinn area rancher Pat Guptill. Space is limited. To register contact Dan Rasmussen or Judge Jessop.

Grassland Management School and Alumni Refresher Tours: July 23-25.

We will be holding the 2nd annual Grassland Management School in Watertown, focusing on key considerations of soil preparation, chemical carryover, seed mixes, establishment, and long-term management tools of a variety of grass and grass/forb stands for wildlife, haying, or grazing. Mowing, fire, grazing, chemical, and fertilizer impacts on grasslands are discussed in depth. This school is a great mix of classroom, field site visits, equipment overview, and landowner/operator experiences. In addition, alumni of the 2018 school are invited for one-day field tours that will revisit 2018 tour sites to re-assess stand health, responses to various management, and discussion on continued stand improvement. This school is taught by a variety of agency personnel and landowners including Board members Mike McKernan, Jim Kopriva, and Brett Nix. Space is limited. To register contact Pete Bauman or Judge Jessop.

Source: SDGC Newsletter

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