High school students attend High Desert Youth Range Camp

The High Desert Youth Range Camp offers students the chance to learn about management issues in the high desert. (contributed photo)

High school students from Oregon, Idaho and Washington attended the 2nd annual High Desert Youth Range Camp (HDYRC) June 17-21 at the Northern Great Basin Experimental Range 40 miles west of Burns, OR. The camp focuses on natural resources and rangelands through hands-on learning activities and has become an annual event offered to high-school age students from across the West. Campers traveled from eight counties including Payette, ID, Walla Walla, WA, and Wheeler, Jefferson, Baker, Harney, Malheur and Polk counties in Oregon. The event was sponsored by Oregon State University.

During the five-day camp, students learned about sagebrush habitat, soils, plant identification, juniper, wildlife, wolf research, rangeland monitoring, invasive species and the work of a local rancher who made a guest presentation about his efforts to develop collaborative groups working on challenging management issues from a ranch management perspective. The campers even used Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to locate items they needed to create their first meal.

At the conclusion of the HDYRC, multiple campers received awards based on their knowledge, leadership, participation, presentation skills and attitude during camp. The most prestigious award, the “Trail Boss”, is sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Section of the Society of Range Management (SRM) and provides an all-expense paid trip for one student to attend the SRM Annual Conference, this year in Oklahoma City, OK. The candidate will represent the state of Oregon in the High School Youth Forum. This is an incredible opportunity for this individual who will also have the opportunity to work closely with Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center scientists to prepare a presentation for the youth forum. The 2012 award recipients were:

Trail Boss: Andrew Zahl (Walla Walla Co.)
Top Hand: Andrea Herrera (Harney Co.)
Range Wrangler: (Top Plant ID Test) Tasha Rowley (Harney Co.)
Most Improved: John Smith (Jefferson Co.)
Oregon High School Youth Forum Candidate: Drew Dyer (Polk Co.)
Top Team Members: (selected by team mates) Austin Piper (Harney Co.), Drew Dyer (Polk Co.), Tasha Rowley (Harney Co.),  Andrew Zahl (Walla Walla Co.)

In addition, 27 experts from around Oregon volunteered their time coordinating the camp from initial planning and organizing to attending, supervising, counseling, cooking and instructing during the five days.

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