The New Mexico Youth Ranch Management Camp was an eye-opening experience for the 29 youth attending the 2019 camp, including two youth from Valencia County.

During the five-day camp at CS Cattle Company’s 130,000-acre ranch at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range near Cimarron, the youth were introduced to the many aspects of running a ranch, from financial statements and marketing strategies to producing quality beef and managing natural resources and wildlife.

For Mateo Olivas and Rhett McCarty, both from the Belen area, camp was the next step in their ranching education. Both have wanted to attend the camp for several years, and said it was an amazing experience.

They both earned honors during the camp. McCarty was on the team that took first place during the ranch management plan judging. Olivas was a runner up for the daily “Top Hand” award given to the camper each day by the instructors for showing exceptional interest in the topics.

While participating in a year-long beef production program in 2017-18, the Olivas and McCarty learned about business plans and keeping financial records when they bought a weaned calf, raised it, breed it, and then sold it at a special sale.

“In the beef production program we learned how to raise a cow and select the breeding stock,” McCarty said. “At camp we learned how to better manage the range for our animals and the wildlife that also grazes on it.”

“The beef production’s business plan was small compared to learning about ranch management,” Olivas said. “Ranch camp wasn’t just about the beef production, we learned about managing all aspects of the ranch.”

The college-level, hands-on curriculum provided the campers with information about how to develop a ranch management plan for a scenario similar to the host ranch.

“We are proud to offer this one-of-a-kind program for the future cattle producers of our state,” said Jon Boren, New Mexico State University College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences’ associate dean and director of the Cooperative Extension Service. “The collaboration between our Extension specialists, county Extension agents and members of the ranching industry has provided an opportunity for the youth to learn about the many aspects of ranching.

“What we are finding from the more than 180 youths who have participated in past ranch camps is that they have gained a greater appreciation of the science and opportunities in agriculture,” Boren said. “It is also a win-win for our aging agricultural industry with more young people having an interest in going into this type of work.”

To help encourage youth to investigate a future in agriculture, the Valencia County Farm & Livestock Bureau sponsored Olivas and McCarty to attend the camp.

“We really want to support our youth in exploring and entering into agriculture as a profession,” said Jim Ahner, board member of the Valencia County Farm & Livestock Bureau. “Providing scholarships for these two young men to attend the ranch management camp is one way we can do that.”

The Valencia County youth were grateful for the support from the local farm and livestock bureau chapter for providing scholarships for them to attend.

“This is one of the greatest programs,” Olivas, who will be attending Mesa Community College in August to study animal science. “I would recommend it to anybody who wants to pursue an agricultural career.”

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Jane Moorman