BROOKINGS, S.D. — South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension and partnering organizations are coordinating a new Eastern South Dakota Grazing School to be offered through the South Dakota Grassland Coalition’s educational programs. This new school will be held at the Abbey of the Hills near Marvin, South Dakota from the morning of Wednesday Aug. 11 through midday Friday, Aug. 13, and it will feature both in-depth classroom education and in-field management of grazing livestock.
Mike McKernan, area grazer and a member of the South Dakota Grassland Coalition’s Board of Directors will be hosting the field portion of the school on pastures he manages in the area.
“We’ve been offering grazing schools for many years, and we felt there are certain issues, concerns and opportunities associated with grazing in eastern South Dakota that warranted offering a new school specifically for this region,” says McKernan.
The South Dakota Grazing School has a proven formula of quality classroom instruction from livestock producers who’ve been practicing holistic management methods along with agency professionals, academics and scientists who also study and manage grazing systems. In addition to the classroom, the school is unique in that it includes extensive field-based education. Pete Bauman, SDSU Extension Natural Resources Field Specialist, believes this is a winning formula.
“Often, schools and workshops have classroom sessions and then we go on a field trip and view an operation from the pickup. The Grazing School is much different. There are no field trips,” Bauman says. “Participants take their classroom lessons and apply them in the field with their team. What that means is that it’s very ‘hands on.’ We measure vegetation, we dig holes to assess soils, we teach monitoring techniques and, most of all, we work with our students in the field to set grazing goals, assess forage needs, build temporary fence and actually handle the livestock needs every day. That alone makes this school a unique learning opportunity.”
The Grazing School is limited to the first 35 registrants. “The school is designed to help grazing managers of all types and of all ages,” says Bauman. “However, we are especially trying to encourage young producers from the region to attend the eastern school. We have a great lineup of presenters, including ranchers who wish they’d have had the opportunity to learn these concepts much earlier in their farm or ranch career. Those individuals want to share the lessons they learned with young people to help them avoid mistakes, recognize opportunity and be more successful.”
Registration for the Eastern South Dakota Grazing School is $150 for members of the South Dakota Grassland Coalition and $185 for non-members, which includes an annual membership. Registration includes meals, but not lodging. To register, contact Judge Jessop at email@example.com or 605-280-0127.
Rooms are available at the Abbey of the Hills at a rate of $70/night per person plus tax. To reserve a room, contact Cindi Tramonte at Abbey of the Hills at 605-398-9200 x 100 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, the annual South Dakota Grazing School will be held in Chamberlain, South Dakota from Sept. 14–16. Classroom activities will take place at the Chamberlain Community Center and field activities at the Charlie Totten Ranch. Participants are responsible for lodging, and several options are available in Chamberlain. Contact Jessop for more information.
— SDSU Extension
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