Adult Range Schools
The Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition has conducted two range schools since 2005 - one in the eastern and one in the western parts of the state. This is to better match the distinct Tallgrass and Mid-/Short-grass prairies and their management. The schools have been held at Camp Wood YMCA, Elmdale and Camp Lakeside, Scott County State Lake (and The Nature Conservancy's Smoky Valley Ranch) in recent years. The schools average 50-70 students total and KGLC has reached over 300 ranchers, landowners, land managers, agency professionals, and college students as of 2013.
The agenda for the three-day schools focuses heavily on plant identification and measuring and monitoring forage to educate attendees on knowing the plants they have in their area and how to better manage the grasslands they manage or influence. A host of topical areas are covered in-depth including prescribed fire, grazing management, stocking rates, conservation improvements such as water development, cross fencing for distribution, and using grazing to manage for improved soil and grazing lands health. For the past three years, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has provided each attendee with a plant identification book suited for their region. A highlight of the course is the plant identification challenge that tests students knowledge of the plants they have learned at the school. KGLC provides plant books to the folks that attain the highest challenge scores.
KGLC has found that students value the course so highly that many return to the schools once or twice more.
Tallgrass Range School
Shelly Wiggam (left, in purple shirt), KSU Department of Entomology, describes a queen native bee she trapped as part of her graduate research. The research site is located on the Koger Ranch near Cassoday. Wiggam presented on her research on pollinators at both the Tallgrass and Mid/Shortgrass Range Schools. The group made up of 23 students was part of the 2014 KGLC Tallgrass Range School held in August.
Jerry Jost (center on knees), determines the plant nearest the set point as part of a line transect exercise to help determine the composition of this range site. The exercise is one of five that students at the 2014 KGLC Tallgrass Range School learned to help them in measuring and monitoring forage. Grazing sticks (another forage measurement tool) can be seen being held by others in Jost’s group.
Doug Spencer (right center on knees looking up), NRCS range specialist, explains how to complete a forage measurement exercise using a clipping ring. Students clip a measured area identifying the plants and measuring the weight of the clippings to extrapolate the number of point per acre growing at that moment. Students are part of the 2014 KGLC Tallgrass Range School held at Camp Wood YMCA, Elmdale in August
Mid/Shortgrass Range School
Students eager to learn the plants growing near Camp Lakeside, Scott County State Lake, take notes on key plant characteristics. The red flags mark individual plants on the hillside above the Camp Lodge that will be learned over the 3-day course. Note a second group up the hill to the left - there up to five or six small groups working simultaneously on plant identification. This is just a small part of the 31 students who attended the 2014 KGLC Mid/Shortgrass Range School in August. The Schools host ranchers, landowners, land managers, agency staffs, naturalists, and college students.
Running a line transect is part of the measuring and monitoring forage portion of the 2014 KGLC Mid/Shortgrass Range School. The exercise is one of five methods students learn to help them estimate forage production. Students identify the plant at each designated mark along the 100-foot line which will give a good estimate of plant composition and potential forage yield.
The final challenge of the 3-day 2014 KGLC Mid/Shortgrass Range School is to identify 25-35 plants along a course that is marked and each station is timed. Students can use their notes taken over the previous days, but no extra help from photos, books, etc. Lisa Ballout, Comanche County landowner, stoops to identify the marked specimen on a loop that overlooks Scott County State Lake.