- Author: Julie Finzel
- Author: Theresa Becchetti
- Author: Rebecca Ozeran
- Author: Devii Rao
UC ANR Advisors restructured Range Camp, a rangeland education program that has helped 95% of participants improve their understanding of ecosystem processes in California's rangelands, supporting a more qualified workforce.
Rangelands cover 62.9 million acres of California; almost 63% of the state. California rangelands support livestock production and provide important ecosystem services including wildlife habitat, recreation opportunities and beautiful viewsheds. California's Range and Natural Resources Camp (Range Camp) provides a five day immersive camp experience for high school students ages 15-18 focused on the science and art of range and natural resources management. The camp is held annually at UC's Elkus Ranch. For 35 years, the California-Pacific Section of the Society for Range Management organized and sponsored Range Camp. As time passed, it became clear that a new organization needed to pick up the reins of Range Camp to sustain this effective youth science education outreach program.
How UC Delivers
This week-long long camp is held annually at UC's Elkus Ranch and provides an immersive experience focused on the science and art of range and natural resource management. Livestock and natural resources Advisors Theresa Becchetti, Julie Finzel, Rebecca Ozeran, and Devii Rao provided capacity for all facets of Range Camp planning and operations. They secured funding to integrate a teacher training component into camp and to facilitate the development of a high school range management curriculum focused on the unique characteristics of California rangelands.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and it became clear that an in-person camp was not feasible, the camp was restructured to accommodate an all virtual experience. The traditionally week-long camp was condensed into 23 brief videos and activities, each of which covered an important science concept. Topics included:
- Rangeland Ecology
- Rangeland Monitoring
- Plant Identification
- Virtual Ranch Tours
- Ranch Economics
- Climate Change
- Fire Ecology
- Careers in Range Management
A survey was distributed in 2017 to campers from 2001-2016 to assess the impact of Range Camp. The survey response rate was 18%, with 95% of respondents indicating that camp increased their understanding of natural resources and 90% of respondents reporting that camp changed their perceptions of how our personal actions affect the environment. College majors among survey respondents were heavily weighted towards science degrees. Range Camp graduates have gone on to be UCCE Advisors, work for NASA, direct youth education outreach organizations and more, demonstrating how new partnerships and contributions from UC ANR Advisors have cultivated new rangeland professionals and contributes to UC ANR's public value of developing a qualified workforce. Range Camp is about more than teaching science; it's about challenging preconceptions, fostering new friendships, and building life skills. One camper stated:
I felt so complete when the sun was disappearing behind the hills…it was as if camp made me realize that I can make a difference. Suddenly, beating global warming and climate change seemed possible…Range Camp has enlightened me. It has changed me. It has permanently made me a ‘happy camper.'
To learn more about Range Camp, visit our program website.