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4H ambassadors learn about ag 'up north'

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Photo by Judith Pannebaker
4H ambassadors who participated in the District 10 Youth Agricultural Lifetime Leadership Tour and their advisors are, from left, Stacy Drury, Laycee Gibson, Tanner Gibson, Miranda Schott and Kara Spangler.

A trio of Bandera County 4H ambassadors spoke to county commissioners about their experiences as participants in the 2015 Youth Agricultural Lifetime Leadership Tour. Prior to a video presentation on Thursday, Dec. 10, the ambassadors and their advisors, Stacy Drury, county extension agent, family and consumer science, and Kara Spangler, 4H program educator, also offered commissioners a summary of the 4H programs completed this year.
Last summer, Miranda Schott, Laycee Gibson and Tanner Gibson participated in the District 10 Youth Agricultural Lifetime Leadership Tour. Initiated by extension agents in the Texas Hill Country, this educational experience enabled 4H students to experience practical applications that had a genesis in local agrarian programs. It also gave them an opportunity to visit several colleges and explore different career paths.
In Lubbock, Schott and the Gibsons learned about crop row production and irrigation methods on the High Plains, using groundwater harvested from the Ogallala Aquifer. At approximately 174,000 square miles, this shallow water table aquifer flows under in portions of eight states - South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas - making it one of the largest aquifers in the world.
Depletion is accelerating in the Ogallala Aquifer with 2 percent of its total lost between 2001 and 2009. Once depleted, the aquifer will take over 6,000 years to replenish naturally through rainfall.
"The drip irrigation process trip really opened my eyes," Schott said.
During a visit to the impressive dairy farm at Texas Tech University, the students learned about managing the facility's herd of 3,500 head of cattle. By touring a commercial feedlot, they gleaned techniques that make the commercial cattle operation as profitable and effective as possible.
At Timber Creek Veterinarian Hospital in Canyon, Schott and the Gibsons visited with Dr. Gregg Veneklasen, who is recognized worldwide as an industry leader in equine reproduction and cloning, as well as wildlife rehabilitation. Veneklasen's pioneering program at Timber Creek has successfully cloned deer and horses.
Additionally, Go Wild, a 13-time bucking bronc qualifier to the National Finals Rodeo, is standing at stud at Timber Creek. His frozen sperm can also be shipped to Canada and Australia.
During the tour of Timber Creek, Veneklasen demonstrated to students how cloning techniques have benefitted the industries. "I loved learning about the techniques and equipment that goes into the cloning process," Laycee Gibson said, adding, "Everyone was so passionate and well-informed."
Cloning was also Tanner Gibson's favorite aspect of the program. "It was really cool how the cloning techniques has grown and expanded," he said.
A stop at the Bradley 3 Ranch, located in the Texas Panhandle, offered students historical aspects of "vertical integration into the Texas beef cattle industry."
Headed up by the legendary octogenarian Minnie Lou Bradley, the philosophy of the Bradley 3 Ranch emphasizes the importance of an "easy fleshing, moderate cowherd with good feet and sound structure."
Although the entire ranch is grass and the cattle harvest all they consume, cattle are also fed a liquid feed supplement to help utilize standing forage. Supplemental hay is only fed during extreme weather events such as a drought or winter storm.
Breeding reigned at the legendary 6666 (Four Sixes) Ranch with both AQHA Quarter Horses and Black Angus Cattle; and sheep and goats took center state at the Angelo State University Extension and Research Center in San Angelo.
Referencing the entire tour, former Bandera County Extension Agent Sam Womble said, "These kids were blown away by all the opportunities available up here. I was excited to see them engaged. We are confident these young people will be leaders in the agriculture industry in the near future."
Concurring, Schott said, "This tour opened my eyes to the importance of agriculture to the country's economy.
Speaking from the heart, Precinct 1 Commissioner Bob Grimes, a reformed urbanite, noted, "This was certainly a great opportunity for the youth, but I bet a lot of adults would like to go on that trip also."

(Sources: wikipedia, www.waterencyclopedia.com, timbercreekveterinaryhospital.com www.bradley3ranch.com and www.6666ranch.com)