Jump Start Your Future in Rangeland Ecology and Management
By Sue McMurray
A dual credit course offered through the College of Natural Resources’ Rangeland Ecology and Management Program will help high school students become professionals who can contribute to the economy of Idaho’s rural communities and maintain surrounding healthy landscapes.
West Jefferson High School students are the first class in the nation to complete the rangeland principles, a dual credit, freshman-level course. Karen Launchbaugh, professor of rangeland ecology and management in the U-Idaho College of Natural Resources, and Don Bird, agricultural education teacher at West Jefferson High School in Terreton, Idaho, co-taught the course.
Sixteen students at West Jefferson took the range principles course. The five who enrolled for the dual college credit included Taylor Savage, Seth Burtenshaw, Coby Nelson, Tanner Murdoch and Michael Murdock. All learned vital rangeland skills that can be taken straight to the ranch to manage livestock, wildlife, water, weeds and wildland fire. Additionally, Homedale High School and North Freemont High School (in Ashton, Idaho) also have completed the course, and students in Burley High School are currently enrolled.
"I have always had an interest in range and wildlife management, and this class finally gave me an opportunity to explore those options," says Coby Nelson, one of Bird’s students who is considering a career in rangeland management. "I learned a lot about protecting and managing rangelands including prescribed fire, the use of organic materials, and cultural uses to manage them. We also learned how to properly stock cattle to utilize the appropriate amount of feed and how to figure out the right rotation to be able to move animals through grazing pastures to get the best feed for the right time of the season."