On Saturday, April 13th, a group from Big Sky High School visited MPG Ranch to prepare for the state Envirothon competition. In an Envirothon students compete in the areas of aquatics, range, forestry, and soils. Saturday’s visit focused on the areas of aquatics and range.
Their FFA instructor, staff from the Watershed Education Network, and staff from the Natural Resources Conservation District joined students. Walter Lujan, the NRCS Rangeland Management Specialist led the day.
Students visited different areas on the ranch to discuss how grazing and other disturbances alter the landscape, in both positive and negative ways.
The group sheltered from a snowstorm in the Top House on the ranch. In the above photo Walter Lujan is discussing the shift in grass communities from bunch grasses to rhizomatous grasses, and then eventually to weeds if conditions continue to degrade.
The group ended their day in MPG’s educational garden. Katharine gave the students and instructors a tour of the garden and the native seed orchard. In the above photo, she is explaining to the group the function of the seed orchard and how it will be used to assist with the reestablishment of native plant communities on MPG from native seeds gathered from the ranch.
The Missoula FFA Envirothon teams went on to do quite well in the state competition. Their top team placed second overall and placed first for their FFA division. They were thoughtful enough to send a letter to MPG to inform us of their success.
Joshua graduated from the University of Montana, Missoula, in 2009 with an M.A. in Intercultural Youth and Family Development. Joshua has designed and implemented wilderness and experiential-based education programs for various agencies since 2001. He has worked in Missoula since 2005 predominately with disadvantaged populations providing challenging and empowering programming for youth and adults alike.At MPG, Joshua works to coordinate with local agencies and school districts as well as the university to connect students and members of the community to MPG’s work. He also recruits and mobilizes volunteers to accomplish various projects for the ranch. In his free time, Joshua enjoys exploring Montana’s wild places. As an avid outdoorsman, he enjoys any pursuit that keeps him connected to the natural world.