We engage with stakeholders directly connected to rangelands and ranching and develop programs informing the public in urban areas. As the voters and policy-makers of today and tomorrow, their participation is essential for ensuring the sustainability of the rangelands and livestock production. In Texas, for example, about 85% of the population are from urban areas. And over 90% of population growth is in these areas. Many of these urban Texans are absentee landowners of small rural properties. Their views on sustainable rangeland production, ecosystem services, and societal values influence the policies which directly affect ranching and rangeland management. Our education effort takes the approach of combining intensive and extensive activities and targeting students, those living in urban areas and future natural resources professionals
We organize teacher and faculty cohorts to develop high-impact learning resources and create agents of change of secondary and undergraduate educators. Active learning activities, such as collaborative learning, case studies, authentic inquiries and research experiences significantly improve student engagement, performance and attitude. Intensive faculty and teacher training and curricular development effectively build learning communities of educators and helps them bring science and technology to secondary and undergraduate classes. Additionally, active learning and research experiences are beneficial for improving the persistence and performance of underrepresented minority students.
We have formed 4H and FFA group cohorts to expand our reach to students. Both the advisors and their students, our future ranch managers and professionals, are critical agents of change. Through experiential learning and monitoring research programs, we engage the 4H and FFA youth who have life-connections to rangelands and ranching, and strengthen those connections and introduce them to best management practices. In this way, we influence the next generation of progressive ranch managers and professionals who can influence multiple generations.