Two students with the Youth Forest Monitoring Program monitor the impact of weeds in a meadow near Webb Lake in the Scapegoat Wilderness. Forest Service photo.
In an age where technology tends to focus the attention of youth indoors, getting kids outdoors and interested in natural resource careers is even more vital today.
Since 1998, an innovative U.S. Forest Service seven-week summer program in central Montana has been achieving that goal by immersing high school students in forest management. They gather data and present findings to Forest Service officials and other representatives in their local communities.
Students involved with the Youth Forest Monitoring Program spend the summer monitoring the health of the national forests at a variety of different locations in the area, but one of the high points is their three-day trip into the Scapegoat Wilderness on the Helena National Forest northwest of Lincoln, Mont. Though the area isn’t far from where many of these students have grown up, the trip gives them the opportunity to experience a protected area many had never visited before. Earlier this year, 13 students along with four field instructors were there to gather data on recreation impacts, water quality and document the spread of invasive weeds. Read more »
Russell Wire, a northwest Illinois farmer, found cover crops to be an excellent option for his operation. His cattle enjoy grazing quality forage, and his soil health is improving as well.
At age 8, Russell Wire knew he liked agriculture. That was when he raised some beef cattle for a 4-H project, eventually turning that project into a herd of 40.
This natural affinity makes sense—Wire, who lives in northwest Illinois, comes from a farm family. The 28-year-old is actually a fifth-generation farmer.
Since 2005, Wire has worked 40 acres of pastureland, and he’s grown corn on another 50 acres since 2011. Recently he decided to incorporate cover crops into his operation to provide more forage for his herd, prevent erosion and improve soil health. Read more »
Newly installed pivot irrigation lines run behind Gerry Gonzalez, NRCS district conservationist in Douglas (left) and farmer Alfredo Zamora.
Travel 30 miles south of Alfredo and Sabrina Zamora’s farm in Cochise County, Ariz., and the imposing border fence between the U.S. and Mexico rises up across the horizon. This border county is rural, arid, open land where the Zamoras have spent their lives farming.
The couple is well known in the area for their cotton, pecans and alfalfa crops and they are no strangers at the local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office in Douglas. They’ve worked with NRCS over the years to plan out and implement conservation on their farm, including more efficient water and irrigation practices, the use of crop residue to improve soil health and the reduction of soil erosion. Read more »
A healthy alfalfa field in the Santo Domingo Pueblo as a result of improved soil health and a new irrigation system.
Just off the Rio Grande River, between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M., sits Santo Domingo Pueblo, a community surrounded by fields of alfalfa, oats and Sudan grass for horses and cattle, and small gardens filled with corn and green chili peppers.
But this green idyll is in danger of drying out. Over the past few years, New Mexico has been struggling through one of the worst droughts in recorded history. Little rain and a dwindling river have threatened many of the Pueblo’s fields and gardens. Read more »
Even though he is putting his entire weight on it, Henderson’s soil pressure probe cannot penetrate the surface of the soil under his neighbor’s dryland wheat crop, which has been farmed with conventional plowing methods.
Clay County, Texas farmer Tommy Henderson may not know everything about farming, but he’s got more than the basics covered—even during a historic drought. Read more »