925.784-8303 ksweet@cattlemen.net

Theresa Becchetti and Julie Finzel, UCANR; Camp Co-chairs

If you are on Instagram, please go check out the posts we made during camp for more pictures. I think we have at least one from every activity – @ucanr_range_camp.

The Range and Natural Resource Camp (Range Camp) was held in June at UC Elkus Ranch, just south of Half Moon Bay. After some months wondering if we would be able to have Range Camp this year (the bridge was wiped out in the New Year’s storms, scheduled to be replaced when the March storms hit and was finally completed in early June – just in time!) we were happy to be back for our 39th year! A lot has changed over time, but the basic idea of high school students coming to Elkus to learn about range and natural resources and the support of many Resource Conservation Districts, Land Trusts, and other environmentally minded organizations has not changed. We appreciate the financial support the campers receive, but we also appreciate the time staff spend in their local communities and connections made to find high school students for camp. It would be hard for us to replicate the distribution of campers, this year from Humboldt County in the north to San Diego County in the south. We try to spread the word through central locations (4-H, FFA, science teachers, etc.) but we know the role the local groups play making personal connections does more for finding campers than our emails. THANK YOU to any of you reading this who have helped connect high school students to Range Camp in the past 39 years!

Another big thank you to our speakers, moderators and our “all hands-on deck!”. If you did not know before, Range Camp only pays a “salary” for our counsellors, nurse, and chef. The rest of the adults who come to Camp do so on their own time (retired, independent consultants), some may have to take vacation time, and some employers allow Range Camp to be “on duty” time. The passion for rangelands and sharing the passion with youth is what keeps us all coming back year after year. That and Chef Marty’s food! We always welcome new volunteers who want to join for a day or a few days. If you are interested in helping, please email us at our Range Camp email – rangecamp@ucanr.edu THANK YOU to all who continue to help every year! Your dedication to rangelands is appreciated.

Changes over the years with camp have mainly been to move to more hands-on activities. The campers dig soil pits, conduct monitoring, clip for RDM, do point counts for wildlife, use compasses and GPS units to find certain locations, and many more passes activities. We have recently added a watershed tour thanks to the San Mateo RCD that incorporates some fisheries, riparian areas, and forestry talks out in the watershed. We cover a broad swath of topics over the course of a week and it all culminates in our traditional Town Hall – where the campers have been working on presentations to a “town council” on how their organization would like to run Elkus Ranch if they are selected for the lease. The groups use information they have learned over the week, our “experts” (volunteers and staff!), and perhaps knowledge they already have to create a proposal. No Googling! It allows them to be creative, work together and pull information from all the topics over the week. To me, this always shows tion how much the campers have learned more than the test we have them take. It is normally quite entertaining as well. And we had special guests for our Town Council – Dr. Susan Edinger-Marshall, Dr. Marc Horney, and Dr. Sheila Barry along with er-one of our counsellors and our very own Nurse Jennifer as our Honourable Mayor.

The culmination of camp is the revealing of our Top Campers – the campers who scored the best on the plant ID test, written test, and scored by staff for cooperation, etc. The two Top Campers will attend the High School Youth Forum held during the Annual Society for Range Management. In 2024, the meeting will be held in Sparks, NV. Our 3rd Top Camper has a spot to attend and we help find funding to attend the competition. One requirement to attend the High School Youth Forum is that you need to be a high school student. This year our Top Campers were: John Camacho, Galt; Audrey Cline, Arbuckle; Acacia Edeluchel, Corsegold. But – Audrey just graduated from high school, so we were able to move our close #4 camper up to the #3 spot: Guillermo Carto Carrillo, Littlerock. Three will be putting together a paper on a topic that interests them on rangelands and will be presenting them in Sparks in February. We wish them luck and know they will all do well!