Updated: Saturday, March 30, 2013 5:09 PM
The short grass prairie dotted with Live Oak and Eastern Cedar was the backdrop for the 66th Annual Meetings of the Society for Range Management. Chelan FFA Member Jake Straub was chosen to represent the Pacific Northwest Section back in early November in 47th High School Youth Forum. Jake developed and presented a paper on the “Challenges Facing Land Managers After a Major Fire Event”. His paper focused on the aftermath of summer fires of 2012 and what must be done to control erosion, re-establish rangelands and forest lands, and keep the ecosystems healthy. The SRM meetings were held in Oklahoma City, OK from Sunday February 3rd to Thursday February 7th. Jake attended workshops with the other 28 delegates from all over North America. It was a competitive event where the presenters were evaluated by industry professionals and at the end of the event Jake placed 8th out of the 28 speakers.
On Monday, they went on a technical tour to the Samuel Robert Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Oklahoma. The Noble Foundation was established in 1946 to help support the farmers and ranchers of Oklahoma. It is the largest private foundation of its kind with endowments of over 1 billion dollars. The foundation employs the some best scientists from around the globe. For example, attendees heard from one of the leading plant microbiologists in the world who hailed from the Philippines on his use of confocal and scanning electron microscopes to use in not only mapping the genomes of fescues and legumes needed to improve the range lands of the prairie but to allow the foundation to develop genetically modified grass and legume species better able to adapt to the harsh conditions found during the current drought. Then the students met with a plant breeder from Spain who took them on a tour of her plant DNA lab and explained the process creating the exact pieces of DNA needed to create new plants. They then toured the greenhouse facilities used to grow and multiply the new species of Switchgrass, Fescue, and Legumes needed to help create biofuel and improve the prairies of the world. The greenhouses were the most technologically advanced houses on the continent and were run by a Plant Scientist from New Zealand. Students then toured some of the 12,000 acres of range and cattle laboratories operated by the foundation to observe the results of patch burning operations to improve cattle and wildlife habitat, learned about feral hog trapping efforts, and the most advanced techniques in cattle handling and field trial data gathering.
Students attended an Industry Professional Mixer where they were paired up with industry professionals and went out to dinner. During the evening they were able to interact with professionals in the range field from both the public and private sectors and both business and production sides of the industry. Students also toured the Trade Show with booths operated by Colleges, Agencies, and Agribusinesses.
Jake was accompanied to the SRM meeting by Chelan FFA Advisor, Rod Cool. Mr. Cool was able to take in the Technical Tour at the Noble Foundation as well as the trade show, and 14 technical sessions throughout the meetings.