agriculture and ranching 2015

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A look at the agriculture industry in northern Nevada.


  • 2 - Ag and Ranching, an April 2015 publication of Winnemucca Publishing

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    WINNEMUCCA, Nev. 4-H and FFA are as syn-onymous with rural America as the family farm and John Deere green. Both organizations originated to encourage young peoples interest in farming, ranch-ing and home economics, but have since adapted to changing modern times. In addition to serving rural children, many programs have shifted to include urban youth as well.

    At the turn of the twentieth century, Americas culture was shifting from primarily agrarian-based to an industrial-based society. People were leaving the farms and moving to cities in droves. In an effort to stimulate interest in the agricultural industry, Ohio school principal A.B. Graham formed an after-school club in 1902. His organization included both boys and girls, and consisted of officers, projects, meet-ings and records requirements. Though he did not call his organization 4-H, it is considered the first 4-H club.

    By 1914, clubs were formed in nearly every state. Boys and girls were originally segregated, and the boys grew corn and garden projects and judged livestock. The girls focused on canning, sewing and cooking. Similar clubs formed in the South for African-American students as well. In 1917, passage of the Smith-Lever Act created the Cooperative Extension System, and 4-H took off in a big way.

    Though it originated to serve rural children, by the 1950s 4-H had spread to urban areas as well. Today, both genders and all races participate in a single, uni-fied 4-H club system. 4-H strives to promote personal growth of its members, building life skills that center around self-esteem, communication and decision making.

    Modern-day 4-H projects have expanded from growing corn and canning tomatoes to photography, fashion revue, skiing and snowboarding, dance, wild-life studies, camping, and shooting sports. Traditional projects such as sewing, baking, woodwork and rais-ing livestock for meat and milk remain popular as well.

    Jim Barcellos, a Community Based Instructor in the Carson City/Storey County area, works to bring 4-H directly to kids in a very nontraditional but successful way. Once a week, he visits area children during their after school STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs. The kids arent mandated to par-ticipate in STEM, but they are highly encouraged by their schools to attend the after school program if they earn low test scores. They usually study math, reading and the like, but Enrichment Partners like Barcellos show up to teach more fun subjects as well.

    Not only is it a nice break from having to do a lot of academic chores, these kids are learning a lot of science concepts and a lot of vocabulary and theyre having fun at the same time, he said.

    The kids especially enjoyed learning about rockets this year.

    That has been a huge hit, said Barcellos. 4-H is very big on getting millions of young hands on sci-ence.

    Barcellos also works with conventional 4-H clubs.Were pretty big on the traditional side also, he

    said.In his 20 years with 4-H, Barcellos said the biggest

    change hes seen is increased diversity.The traditional 4-H kid is not the same kid, not a

    ranch kid. We see kids from all walks of life. We see

    every racial representative in town. The pool of 4-Hers has really diversified and really grown. I think thats due to a lot of nontraditional outreach by 4-H, he said.

    4-Hs high school counterpart, the Future Farmers of America (FFA), was born in 1926 in Virginia. At that time, Walter S. Newman was the Virginia State Supervisor of Agricultural Education, and he wanted to encourage boys to stay on the farm and be proud of their agricultural heritage. He called the group the Future Farmers of Virginia.

    Two years later, 33 students from 18 states gath-ered in Kansas City, Missouri and formed the Future Farmers of America. Girls were originally restricted from participating, and a separate organization formed for African-American boys, called the New Farmers of America.

    Like the 4-H program, FFA received a big boost of federal support in 1917. In this year, Congress passed the Smith-Hughes Vocational Education Act, creat-ing the Federal Board for Vocational Education. This helped establish agricultural vocational programs in schools and provided federal funds for their continu-ation. In 1950, Congress issued a Federal Charter to the organization, providing some federal leadership in addition to state supervisors to ensure the program would be maintained in the school system.

    Originally restricted, girls gained full FFA member-ship privileges in 1969, although many states had permitted them to join before then. Today, female stu-dents comprise more than 45 percent of FFA member-ship and fill approximately half of all state leadership positions. All 50 states and two US territories have FFA chapters, with nationwide membership totaling over 600,000.

    4-H AND FFA: THEN AND NOW4-H Community Based Instructor Jim Barcellos teaches kids about science and math at local after school programs. PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM BARCELLOS

    Youth ProgramsBy Jolyn YoungThe Nevada Rancher

  • Ag and Ranching, an April 2015 publication of Winnemucca Publishing - 3

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    WELLS, Nev. Keeping todays kids interested in and learning about agriculture is a challenge worth undertaking, as it develops tomorrows work-ers and innovators. But theres more to ensuring the future of farming and ranching than just teaching youth how to put up hay and brand calves.

    Wells High School agriculture teacher Don Noorda teaches basic and advanced agricultural skills, and he also strives to develop crucial non-academic skills as well.

    Some of the most impor-tant skills are some of those soft skills: speaking, problem solving, communication, work-ing as a team, he said. Noorda cited a presentation he once saw in which the speaker said that people are hired because of their technical skills, but fired because of their lack of soft skills.

    A lot of what I push with my students is the personal devel-opment, the ability to be able to communicate with other people, both written and verbally, and the ability to get together and have a problem to solve and be able to be a good team member to solve that problem, he said.

    Many ranch kids are reluctant to leave their comfort zone of practical skills such as riding horses and evaluating livestock. Noorda counsels them on the necessity of having accounting and managerial skills to take back to the family ranch after college. He always advises them to take business manage-ment classes. The accompany-ing math and science courses develop analytical and critical thinking skills, which are always useful in any career or field.

    When a ranch kid returns to live and work on the fam-ily ranch, he or she contrib-utes another working body and mind, but they also bring a need for additional income to sup-port another family. To make multi-generational family ranch-ing feasible, new or expanded

    income sources must be devel-oped.

    In addition to the traditional livestock raising and harvesting professions, new, unforeseen careers are being developed as well. Food production tech-nology will be vastly different in 15 years, so agriculturalists will need to be lifelong learners and self-motivated to learn new skills.

    There are careers in ag sci-ence that we dont even know what theyre going to look like, said Noorda.

    Once his students enter col-lege, there is a wide variety of agriculture courses and degrees for them to choose from.

    It all depends on what their area of interest is, said Noorda.

    The University of Nevada at Reno offers a broad selection of agriculture degrees. Standard courses of study include Vet-erinary Science, Forest Man-agement and Rangeland Ecol-ogy and Management. New and nontraditional programs include Biotechnology, Echohydrology (studying the issues surrounding water, people and the environ-ment) and Agricultural Science.

    If a student wants to get a general agriculture degree and return to the family ranch, Noor-da encourages them to take range science classes.

    [That is] huge, huge, huge in Nevada, he said. I person-ally think that if ranchers are able to provide documentation that they are taking better care of the rangeland now than its ever been taken care of, thatll be huge. Detailed, accurate records that clearly demonstrate the value ranchers are adding to the land can help with threat-ened or endangered species cases.

    Noorda also encourages his students to take ag econom-ics and animal science courses. Currently, graduates of area high schools can enter certain colleges, including Great Basin Community College, with col-lege credits by taking qualifying

    high school classes. This gives them a jump start on a college degree or veterinary technician certificate.

    College majors are chosen by each student, and high school ag classes are elective as well. Because of this self-selection and Noordas innate enthusiasm for ag, he said that maintaining his students enthusiasm isnt a problem.

    I think students will be enthused if the teacher is enthused. If you love this subject and can just install some of that love in them, theyll do well, he said. After over twenty years of teaching high school ag class-es, Noorda remains passionate about the subject material and his enthusiasm never wanes.

    Some kids who are initially reluctant about a certain class gain enthusiasm as the semes-

    ter progresses. He noticed that kids who are initially resistant to learning to identify flora in his range plants class are often motivated by their first field trip. After that, theyll return to school from a hunting trip and excit-edly report to Noorda the correct names of the plants they saw.

    Another useful class for both future ranchers and family gro-cery shoppers alike is meat sci-ence. Noorda teaches the class from a consumer angle, explain-ing the primal and retail cuts of meat.

    Its one of my favorite units to coach. I think it teaches kids to have a better appreciation of

    going to the supermarket and purchasing meat, he said. Even if they dont pursue a career as a butcher, a basic knowledge of cuts of meat allows the students to choose the correct cut for the dish they want to make.

    Since everyone, regardless of their profession or lifestyle, relies on agriculture to sup-ply their basic needs like food and clothing, an ag education is applicable for all students. Enthusiastic teachers and infor-mative classes help motivate students to pursue ag careers, though, ensuring the industrys continuity and progress into the future.

    By Jolyn YoungThe Nevada Rancher

  • 4 - Ag and Ranching, an April 2015 publication of Winnemucca Publishing

    Celebrating 76 Years! 1937 - 2015

    Why do people irrigate? Tyla Haigh

    Grade 3, Age 8

    Most people get their water to irrigate from the melted snow and the rain off of the mountain. Once it is off of the mountain it flows into the ditches. Some of the people have a well near the mountain. So the snow that melted and the rain that poured onto the mountain flows down into the well that directs it to the diches.

    Stacey Moser, a rancher and teacher in Fields, OR said, I only like to irrigate sometimes. Joe and Sta-cey Moser get their water to irrigate from a nearby creek, but if there is no water, they pump it out of a well.

    I like to irrigate because it is fun and when it is hot the water is always cold so you can play in it. Colby Haigh, a 7th grade student at Fields Elementary School, says, My ranch uses boxes to block the water from flood-ing the grass. He also com-mented that his favorite time to irrigate is when it is hot so the water is cold.

    People irrigate so that their grass can grow better. Some people irrigate so that their cows and their calves have food to eat. Other peo-ple also run water to their pivots from a ditch that they irrigate to grow hay or to grow alfalfa, even sometimes cheatgrass.

    The most popular time to irrigate is in summer. The most popular time to irrigate is summer so that the grass has the sunlight to grow. That is how we irrigate!!! How do you?

    Jackrabbits - Maddy Norris, Grade 2, Age 7Jackrabbits are prey. Jackrabbits have really big ears. Jackrab-

    bits can run 40 miles an hour. Jackrabbits carry diseases. Do you know what eats jackrabbits? Coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, bobcats, eagles, hunting dogs, and owls eat jackrabbits. Jackrab-bits live in dirt beds. Jackrabbits are nocturnal. That means they go out at night and look for their food. Jackrabbits eat grass and weeds. Jackrabbits are pests because they eat your crops. You can throw rocks at jackrabbits so you can get them away from your crops. Jackrabbits can jump, hop, and eat.

    Drought does damageMonte Kingen, Grade 5, Age 10

    Fields and Harney County is in a drought! The drought started in 2011. Fields, Oregon is only get-ting a couple of inches of precipitation a year. The effects of lack of rain fall and snow pack is drought. The effects of drought are empty water holes, lack of feed for livestock and high fire danger. Harney County is in big trouble right now. There are only a couple of things we can do about drought, but we cant do anything about weather.

    My thought about lack of rain fall is that most of the clouds are getting caught in west by all the other mountain ranges. My theory is that the high mountain ranges like the Cascade Mountains will catch most of the rain water by rubbing the rain clouds. This will make the water come out of the rain clouds. The same is true with snow pack. This makes dryer lighting storms which makes higher dangers for wild fires.

    Water stops or extinguishes fires right? That is very true. Drought and heat together are a dan-gerous combination. Drought means there is not enough rain or snow to keep plants from drying up and turning into fire fuel. There have been a lot of wild fires in Harney County; there were over a dozen wild fires in 2014. One good thing about wild fires is that the ash turns into fertilizer; the bad thing is that it kills every thing. The Trout Creek Mountain wild fire started in July 2012 and burned over 1000 square miles of ranch land. Sadly, many cows and wildlife were burned alive.

    Also, water holes are really important for live-stock and wildlife during the summer grazing season. The lack of water caused by drought dur-ing this warmer time of year affects the amount of water available for animals to drink at watering holes. Even if there are spring rains, they wont provide enough water to get through the summer

    without snow pack run-off. Small springs keep a little bit of water in water holes, but those can dry up too.

    Additionally, feed or grasses that animals graze on is affected by drought. Spring rains may bring early grasses, but they dont last long and if there isnt enough rain to make a lot of them, there wont be any seeds for next years plants. Another prob-lem happens when later growing grasses dont have enough water to grow; then, animals dont have enough to eat. They also dry up, die, and become fuel for fire. Drought kills lots of life.

    The drought does a lot of damage to ranches, farms, and wildlife but it is not caused by global warming or pollution it is just a cycle of life.

    Coyotes - Oscar Maley, Kindergarten, Age 6Coyotes eat calves. Thats bad because the cows have to get

    pregnant again. They eat jackrabbits too. They wander around a lot. People do not like them because they eat our food.

    KIDS TELL THEIR STORIESHome on the range

    No Rain - Robin Braatz, Age 5Squaw Valley Ranch, Midas, NV

  • Ag and Ranching, an April 2015 publication of Winnemucca Publishing - 5

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    Lessons from the ranchBy Matti DeLong, 1st grade

    1. I like homeschool, because it is fun and my mom is my teacher! We learn a lot and do fun projects.

    2. I like animals such as ducks, dogs, rabbits, chickens,

    goats, horses, cows, and leppy calves. If you are wondering what a leppy calf is, I will tell you. It is a little baby cow that doesnt have a mama. We feed them milk in a bottle.

    3. I like riding horses at the rodeo. I do barrel racing, keyhole race, dummy roping

    and lots of other stuff too. It is so fun.

    4. I like to push cows and help my dad and mom brand the calves. I also like to catch my horse, Smoky, and help saddle him. There is lots of hard work on the ranch, but I like living on a ranch!

    Ranch life vs. city lifeBy C.J. Canady, Grade 8, Age 13

    Life on the ranch and life in the city are two completely different lifestyles. People may think that I was born and raised on a ranch, but to tell you the truth I lived in Coquille, Oregon up until 2013. Coquille is a small town of about 500 people, and is surrounded by plenty of trees and rivers.

    Now, I live on the Mann Lake Ranch in Princeton, Oregon, which is located in the Har-ney County Great Basin. The ranch is on the east side of the rugged Steens Mountain. The nearest sizable town is over 100 miles away.

    Before moving to Princeton, my mom and I had about four years of experience with cattle. We would help our friends Trevor and Kayce Faulkner, on the Powers Ranch in Powers, OR. My dad worked out of town for about a year and a half in Winnemucca, Nevada in the mines working on equipment and would come down and help out on the ranch on his time off.

    Before I lived on Mann Lake Ranch I went to a school with 200-300 kids. The school I now

    attend is a two room school house located in Fields, OR. There are five kids in my class room; two eighth graders (one is me), one sev-enth grader, and two fifth graders. The other class room has seven students in grades K-3.

    Some of the things I used to do were going to the beach, going to local barrel races, riding horses in the forest, going swimming in the ocean, rivers, lakes and local swimming pools, etc. On the weekends I would go to volleyball and basketball games or visit with friends. Now the things I do for fun are ride horses, rodeo, barrel race, and brand cattle.

    Next year, I will be going to Crane Union High School which is a Boarding School with about 60 kids, located two hours from the ranch. I will be boarding in the girls dorm four days a week. I will be playing Basketball, Vol-leyball, and doing High School Rodeo.

    I enjoy living on Mann Lake Ranch because I get to be around the people I care about and enjoy being around. I have learned that when living on a ranch the ranch and family come first.

  • 6 - Ag and Ranching, an April 2015 publication of Winnemucca Publishing

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    DEETH, Nev. Since 2009, French film company Patly Productions has been produc-ing a documentary film series called Somewhere on Earth. In the past six years, they have filmed more than 100 people in over 30 countries. Their latest project took them to Nevada, where they filmed a Reno artist, a rural aerobatic pilot, cowboy musician Andy Hedges and Marys River cowboss Jake Bast.

    It was a great experience. Their big focus was to make sure that things were done in a normal day-to-day setting. They didnt want anything made up just for them, said Bast.

    As often happens with visi-tors to a working cattle ranch, Bast had to explain to the film crew what constituted normal ranch work. Director Scott Schneider and cameraman Jean-Christophe Cheneau, aka Jano, wanted to film a cow calving, experiencing trou-bles, and a veterinarians arriv-al to help with the delivery. Bast explained that as a cowboy, calving heifers was his job, so a cowboy would never call a vet for help. Furthermore, the crew filmed in January, when Marys River cows werent calving.

    The Frenchmen accepted the explanation and settled for filming the cowboy crew turning cattle out on the desert, wran-gling the cavvy and roping in a corral. Bast kept the work as realistic as possible, but even some real-world ranch activities had to be somewhat staged to accommodate the cameras. The cowboys and film crew ended up setting up the wran-gling scene and re-shooting it four times, due to the horses being riled up from a big weath-er change and spooking at the cameras as they came into the corral. Schneider and Jano were very patient and under-standing of the challenges of working with animals, though.

    Those guys were fantas-tic. They were incredibly nice, incredibly thoughtful, very understanding, said Bast.

    Cowboys never pass up a chance to rope, and roping in a corral was both realistic and well-suited to the cameras. Bast, along with his wife Kelli and day work cowboy Casey Fender, spent an afternoon roping some yearling bulls.

    The production company originally intended to feature Kelli Bast in the documentary, but once the cameras started rolling, it was discovered that she suffered from an acute case of stage fright, unable to perform tasks such as talking while catching her horse.

    She was a wreck, God

    bless her. Ive never seen her like that in my life, said Bast.

    Kelli froze when spotlight-ed in front of the camera, but the tall, pretty blonde relaxed and returned to her usual self once she focused on a specific, familiar ranch task.

    When we started roping, she kinda forgot they were there and roped really good, said Bast.

    In addition to the Marys River cowboys, Patly Produc-tions also filmed Texas-based cowboy musician Andy Hedg-es. He performed at this years National Cowboy Poetry Gath-ering in Elko, and he went to Marys River to shoot some scenes with the Basts.

    Initially, the film crew want-


    By Jolyn YoungThe Nevada Rancher

    Jake Bast, cowboss at Marys River Ranch, and wife Kelli were filmed this past January as part of a French documentary on rural Nevada.


  • Ag and Ranching, an April 2015 publication of Winnemucca Publishing - 7

    SPARKS, Nev. Big changes are in store for Nevada ranchers in efforts to simplify the brand inspec-tion process. Inspection paperwork will switch to an online program, and brand district lines will be redrawn.

    The agriculture depart-ment is transitioning to an entirely online brand inspec-tion system. Eventually, all brand inspectors will fill out online forms on tablets and electronically send them to the office. Producers will save $25 by electronically paying for online inspec-tions rather than using the traditional paper billing method, as the new system will reduce office processing costs. The inspectors will be able to print off a paper form for cattlemens records in the field. Two inspectors are currently testing the new system in the field. Other states are switching to an online system as well.

    A highlighted safeguard of the system is its ability to calculate brand inspection fees based on what type of inspection is needed. This

    eliminates human error in calculating fees manually.

    The director of the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) is pro-posing some changes to the brand inspection dis-trict system. There are cur-rently 14 brand inspection districts, and many people dont even know which dis-trict theyre in. Additionally, having so many districts makes regulations difficult to enforce. Under the pro-posed regulations, the state will be divided into just four districts.

    The proposed regula-tion is not required by fed-eral law, but officials say it will reduce the number of boundary lines, thereby creating clarity and reduc-ing the work load for NDA staff and cattlemen need-ing inspection. It will reduce costs to producers by cre-ating fewer boundaries to cross, each of which cur-rently requires an additional brand inspection. It will not create additional costs to the brand department for enforcement.

    ed to set up a scene where Hedges played the guitar and the cowboy crew sat around a campfire and sang along. Bast told them they didnt do things like that.

    Finally, we negotiated that down to him on our couch play-ing guitar, he said.

    After filming at Marys River Ranch for three days, the production crew spent three days at Poetry, mainly filming Hedges. People overseas are currently very interested in the American cowboy culture, and several other ranch documen-taries were being filmed by var-ious European production com-panies during Poetry. Hope-fully, some positive global pub-licity will help improve ranchers

    image as stewards of the land rather than greedy agricultural-ists, since the Somewhere on Earth series strives to highlight areas where man has a posi-tive impact on nature.

    There are many ways to speak of the fragility of our planet, but in this series we have deliberately decided to put aside the catastrophic to concentrate on the positive environmental stories our world has to offer, said Candy Che-valier of Patly Productions.

    Patly chose to create a series of films that contrasts with most environmental films currently being made. The producers wanted to create a positive, inspiring series about interesting people, their culture

    and how they have adapted to life in symbiosis with the land. They have previously filmed in Patagonia, Madagascar, Egypt, the Shetland Islands and many other remote locales.

    We chose Nevada, far away from the spotlights of Las Vegas, because it offers a fan-tastic postal card of the western America, wild and untamed, said Chevalier. We knew we would find fantastic landscapes and authentic people.

    The Nevada episode of Somewhere on Earth will be finished in April and broadcast on French TV networks this summer. After that, it will air internationally on TV5 Monde. It will not be commercially avail-able on DVD.

    By Jolyn YoungThe Nevada Rancher




  • 8 - Ag and Ranching, an April 2015 publication of Winnemucca Publishing