Written collaboratively by Sean Kelly, Mary A. Scott (NRCS Rosebud Tribal Liaison) and Cody Kartak (NRCS Soil Conservationist).
Children of the Sicangu Oyate (Rosebud Sioux Tribe) had the opportunity to participate in the second annual youth range workshop near Rosebud this summer. The workshop provided an excellent learning environment for children to physically be on the land learning about grasses, forbs, and shrubs that make up the prairie.
Children from the Mission Boys & Girls Club and local 4-H Clubs traveled to the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) range unit leased to the Rosebud Ranch & Farm Enterprise which generously allowed the range workshop to take place in late July. The children learned differences in grasses, forbs, and shrubs. They also learned if the plants were native to the prairie or introduced, cool season or warm-season, and perennial or annual growth periods. The children were allowed to taste chokecherries, purple coneflower (Echinacea) root, and ceyaka tea. Medicinal uses for each plant were also included in the workshop.
Building on the success of the youth range workshops, an adult range workshop was offered this year. Over 25 participants including ranch owners and managers from Todd and Mellette Counties in South Dakota; ranchers from Cherry County, Nebraska and land managers with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Rosebud Sioux Tribe were in attendance.
Participants had the opportunity to view the NRCS Rainfall Simulator to observe precipitation runoff and infiltration rates on different local range plant communities. Educational discussions on drought planning and calculating stocking rates and carrying capacities were also completed. Range plant identification capped off the workshop.
Several people from SDSU Extension and NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) played instrumental roles in conducting these range workshops, including Ron Frederick (SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Program Advisor), Mary Scott (NRCS Rosebud Tribal Liaison), Cody Kartak (NRCS Soil Conservationist), Jimmy Doyle (SDSU Extension Natural Resource Management Field Specialist), Sean Kelly (SDSU Extension Range Management Field Specialist), and Rachel Lindvall (SDSU Extension Community Development Associate). Also helping out were Kent Cooley (Soil Scientist) and Mitch Faulkner (Range Management Specialist with NRCS) who demonstrated the rainfall simulator and facilitated range management discussions. Special thanks to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Tribal Land Enterprise (TLE) for sponsoring the breaks and refreshments and the South Dakota Grassland Coalition for donating grassland plant identification books.
Kinship with the land is an important aspect of Lakota Culture, the organizers of the workshop hope to continue this annual educational opportunity for many years to come.