The East Pennington Conservation District hosted the 34th Annual South Dakota Rangeland Days and 13th Annual Soils Days in Wall and Wasta, South Dakota on June 20th and 21st with more than 110 people participating. The Rangeland/Soils Days program is an annual event that moves to a different location within the state every two years. The East Pennington Conservation District has hosted Rangeland/Soils Days in 2016 and again in 2017. The Spink County Conservation District will be the hosts for 2018 and 2019. Personnel from SDSU Extension, USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service, USDA-Forest Service, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies and area ranchers provided instruction and expertise.
South Dakota Rangeland/Soils Days is an opportunity for youth and adults to learn more about two of the state’s most important resources, our Rangelands and the Soils found in the state. Learning activities have been designed for a variety of age groups and expertise, from 8 years of age through adults. Beginners will start with plant morphology and identification, working up to evaluating rangelands for suitability as livestock and wildlife habitat. Once the rangeland has been given a “rating” for habitat quality, recommendations for improvement are discussed and made to meet the goals of the cooperating producer.
The divisions in which students participated were determined by their experience level and age as of January 1, 2017:
- New Rangers: 8-10 years old
- Wranglers: 11-13 years old
- Scouts: 14-18 years old with no prior formal rangeland management instruction
- Go-Getters: 14-18 years old with previous rangeland management instruction
- Ranch Hand: Adults with no professional rangeland management experience.
Competitions & Awards
After a day of active learning, participants had the opportunity the following day to measure how much they learned by participating in a contest suited to their age and expertise. County 4-H teams and FFA Chapters of 3-4 members participated in team competition with the top 4-H team in their respective area of Range judging or Soil judging earning the right to represent South Dakota at the National Range Judging competition in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma the first Thursday in May 2018. The 4-H teams that will be representing South Dakota in 2018 are the Wessington Springs 4-H Range Team comprised of Logan Wolter, Coy Fastnacht, Dalton Howe, Rylie Stevens and the Wessington Springs 4-H Soils team comprised of Landon Wolter, Keah Munson, Chandler Flowers, Alicia Jackson . The travel for the teams is partially funded by sponsorship through the 4-H Livestock Industry Trust Fund and the South Dakota Section of the Society for Range Management.
Rangeland Day participants also competed for awards in the Rangeland Educational display competitions and Rangeland related speech contests in all the youth divisions. The South Dakota Section of the Society for Range Management provides a sponsorship to cover the travel and participation expenses for a student from the 14-18 year Rangeland Speech division to represent South Dakota in the High School Youth Forum at the Annual Society for Range Management convention to be held in Sparks, Nevada in February 2018. This year Hunter Eide from Gettysburg, SD will represent the SD Section of the Society for Range Management in the High School Youth Forum.
“Top Hand” Honors
A “Top Hand” is selected in each youth division. This award is based on the participants combined weighted scores in the three areas; range judging (40%),range displays (25%) and range speeches (35%). The Top Hand in each youth division was awarded a Maynard belt buckle and the top hand in the Go-Getter Division also received a 3 foot tall traveling trophy to be displayed in their home for a year. This year’s recipients are:
- New Ranger Division: Bennett Gordon, Whitewood, SD
- Wrangler Division: Matea Gordon, Whitewood, SD
- Go-Getter Division: Danika Gordon, Whitewood, SD
The top performer in the Ranch Hand division will receive $50 in “Beef Bucks”.
For more information about SD Rangeland Days and South Dakota Soils Days, please contact Dave Ollila.