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A Natural Nature Networker

The annual Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Convention was held at the Fort Worth Convention Center at the end of March. The associated trade show was open to the public, and there were more than 200 exhibitors/vendors offering giveaways and information at various booths. Our own Dan Caudle, Resident Research Associate, worked several booths on behalf of the Youth Range WorkshopTexas Grazing Land Coalition (TXGLC), and the Grazing Animal Nutrition (GAN) Lab at the Blackland Research and Extension Center, this last of whom (according to Dan) “test livestock fecal samples with Near Infrared Spectroscopy to determine nutritional value of the forages that have actually been consumed, digested, and passed through the animals.” You know…as one does (!!!!).

Though officially “retired” long ago, Dan remains quite involved with the natural resources community, attending conferences and meetings when he can and flexing his remarkable networking skills wherever he goes. We asked Dan how the event went, and he provided the little update below.

“The booth went very well! We had a lot of visitors come by to get more information about all three of these [organizations]. I dug and potted 32 grass plants from my backyard to use at our booth, and we held little impromptu plant ID quizzes. We gave away prizes (some of the plants, a few plant ID books, grazing sticks, luggage tags, publications, etc.) to those who participated. The value of prize was based on how well they did and what their interest was. That generated a lot of interest and got some really good conversations started. We also gave away a day on a ranch at Sterling City, Texas, with Frank Price. We also threw in one night’s lodging at a hotel in San Angelo for the lucky winner. Frank is one of the premier land stewards, cattlemen, and good guys among all of the ranchers in Texas. TXGLC’s theme this year is ‘The Art of Grazing,’ and Frank was our featured ‘artist’ at the TSCRA Trade Show.  We have a different featured ‘artist’ at every event.

 TXGLC has started a pilot program this year to provide paid internships to college students to work on carefully selected ranches for 2 ½ months during the summer to learn about all aspects of ranching. We will match the interested students up with ranchers based on experience, geography, skills, and level of interest. This year the pilot program will be only with Texas A&M University – Kingsville, and there will be 5 interns and 7 ranchers cooperating. If the program is successful, we hope to expand it to other universities in the future.”

Dan also talked to high school and college students at the trade show, promoting both the Youth Range Workshop (which he’s a Co-Director of) and summer volunteer opportunities with BRIT’s Prairie Research Program. The latter was of special interest to Dr. Frank Owsley of Tarleton State University as his school requires all of the Range Science students to do an internship. 

Out of all the students Dan met at the convention, of particular note was a “really sharp young lady” from Nuevo Leon, Mexico, doing her grad studies at Sul Ross State University. Dan was able to recruit her on the spot to be a cabin director for a girls cabin at Youth Range Workshop. And this right here really sums up one of the things we love most about Dan: his ability to inspire those around him and get them as excited as he is to investigate the natural world. Thank you, Dan, for all you do to engage and empower these next generation scientists and environmental stewards! Nature Networkers like you are never not needed!

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