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Title: My Road to the Nevada High School Youth Forum

item VEGA, LETTY - Elko High School
item Harmon, Daniel - Dan

Submitted to: The Progressive Rancher
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/26/2017
Publication Date: 5/8/2017
Citation: Vega, L., Harmon, D.N. 2017. My Road to the Nevada High School Youth Forum. The Progressive Rancher. 17(5): 36-37.

Interpretive Summary: The U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service has had a long standing participation of tutoring, mentoring and education programs for youth interested in an agricultural career path. The Great Basin Rangelands Research Unit (GBRRU) has likewise had a history of high school mentorship started by now retired scientist James A Young. In recent years Dr. Young’s research technician Daniel Harmon has continued that tradition by mentoring high school students chosen by the Nevada Section of the Society for Range Management (SRM) to participate in the SRM annual meeting High School Youth Forum. The students write and present on a rangeland topic of their choice and are evaluated and judged with awards given to the top 3 individuals. Under Dan Harmon’s mentorship the Nevada section students have placed in the top three every year. The 2017 student was Letty Vega a senior from Elko High School in eastern Nevada. Her presentation was titled “Keeping up with Conservation” and focused on conservation activities that her family’s working ranch conducts that might sometimes be overlooked, however are valuable to conservation of the land. After months of hard work she was awarded 3rd place out of nearly a hundred students. She was recognized and congratulated by the Nevada Governor Sandoval’s office and then approached to write an article about that experience by Progressive Rancher Magazine. This article is about that experience.

Technical Abstract: The Nevada Section of the Society for Range Management hosts an annual Range Camp for high school students. During the weeklong camp students learn about rangeland topics and take part in range monitoring activities. At the end of the week a student is chosen that demonstrated hard work and leadership and is given the “Trail Boss” award. Along with this recognition the student is given the opportunity to present at the Society’s upcoming annual meeting. From the time after summer camp until the end of January the student is mentored by a Nevada Section member. For the past 3 years USDA-ARS research technician Dan Harmon has been that mentor. The 2015 and 2016 students have gone on to further their education focusing on range related studies. The 2015 nominee attends the University of Nevada Reno and plans to go into environmental law and the 2016 student Katlyn Uhart who took 1st place at the High School Youth Forum now attends college in Utah. The High School Youth Forum (HSYF) program began in 1966. High school age delegates are selected for participation in the Forum by the Sections of the Society based on their interest, achievements and activities in range and natural resource management at the Section level. Beginning in the early 1970's, the program format began to encourage youth thought and enhancement of communication skills. A taste of what range professionals do was achieved by asking each Forum delegate to prepare a formal presentation on a range related topic. The HSYF paper presentation session today is treated similar to other formal, educational annual meeting sessions, except that it is a competition. The 2017 high school nominee, Letty Vega had attended the Nevada Section Youth Range Camp since she was 13 years old. She grew up in Elko Nevada where her family has been ranching since the 1890s. She presented on the topic of conservation from her perspective growing up on a working ranch. She wrote “The life that I lived everyday was not just daily life. It was a science and management world that I began to appreciate even more when I started attending range camp”. She explained “When I started writing my paper, I didn’t realize how broad of a topic conservation is. After a couple of extremely rough drafts my mentor, Dan Harmon, Range Science Technician for USDA-ARS asked me what I myself contributed to conservation”? She described her week at the annual meeting and all wonderful experiences and great people she met. “My week was now over and I was going to miss all the great people that I met. Being involved in range has given me the opportunity to travel to new places and meet new people who have greatly supported me along the way. I will never forget my time at range camp and the amazing week I had at the Society for Range Management Conference.”