South Dakota Grassland Coalition

by Pete Bauman

Sept 2022

SD Grassland Coalition

Grown substantially over the last decade with the generous support of partner organizations that share in the mission and vision of the Coalition. There have been many points of growth, but some key milestones are expansion of the board from 7 to 9 active producers, expansion of the staff from a single Coordinator (Judge Jessop) to the addition of an Education Coordinator (Dan Rasmussen) and a Communications Director (open at present), as well as expanded use of specialty contractors to assist with various grants, field events, and media promotions such as the annual planner and Amazing Grassland series.

Partner organizations have always supported the Coalition both financially and with staff time, but in recent years these partners have substantially increased their contributions on both fronts. For example, the NRCS has committed substantial financial and human resources to the Coalition’s education efforts in recent years, supporting everything from grant funding to new staff to the annual planner to videos to the expansion of education courses like the new Prescribed Fire Schools, Grassland Management School, and the popular Ranch Consultants Follow-up program. There are many such examples involving other Coalition programs that rely heavily on partner staff time to enrich the Coalition’s ability to deliver meaningful education opportunities. 

Recent examples of partner organizations supporting the Coalition’s mission are the new efforts in fire, grazing, and the ranch follow-up and young producer education programs. Some of these programs are co-developed by board members working with agency staff while others rely on outside expert instruction. Still, others rely heavily on partner agency staff persons to develop the curriculum and deliver the programs. 

This year we were able to offer 2 prescribed fire trainings. The first was hosted by Doug Hansen at his ranch near Mitchell. This was the first time we’d taken the fire training onto private land. Although there were some logistical challenges, the school went very well and was mutually beneficial to both the students and our host, as our live fire exercises supported his range management objectives. The second school was held at the SDSU Oak Lake Field station in Brookings County. 

In addition to the new fire schools, we also developed and hosted an Eastern Grazing School which was formatted after the traditional Grazing Schools but incorporated some key aspects of grazing management unique to the eastern part of the state. Our annual grassland restoration field tours associated with the Grassland Management School highlight ongoing learning over time as we re-visit sites that are going through the process of grassland recovery. On such site is the Carolyn Eck site near Garden City. This also has been an opportunity for partner organizations to step up and step in to the Coalition’s educational platform.

It is important to take the time to recognize the individual staffers from these organizations and their personal contributions. So if you see staffers from NRCS, SD GFP, Audubon Dakota, US Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, or other organization affiliated with the Coalition, don’t forget to thank them for their service, as it often goes above and beyond what they are called to do under their normal job duties!!

Check out these amazing grassland videos.

Source: SDGC Newsletter


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