Generation Next: Our Turn to Ranch online course now registering

Sarah Fuller, Texas AgriLife Today

August 8, 2023

The Generation Next: Our Turn to Ranch 12-week online course is open for registration. The program, offered by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, takes place Aug. 21-Nov. 12.

      The course fee is $300, and online registration is required at https://tx.ag/GenerationNext2023. Because enrollment is limited to 100 registrants, those interested in participating are encouraged to enroll as soon as possible.

      The course includes expert instruction on everything from starting a new agriculture business or enterprise to tax implications and insurance needs to developing grazing or wildlife leases.

      “Land throughout Texas is changing hands all the time, and not everyone who becomes a landowner is immersed in its history or agriculture production,” said Megan Clayton, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension range specialist, Uvalde. “We’ve developed this Generation Next curriculum to target new landowners, those who are inheriting land or those who are looking to start a new agricultural operation on an existing ranch.”

      The online school enables participants to work toward developing a business plan with support from professionals who specialize in each field and topic, Clayton said. Participants can expect to spend roughly two hours per week on the lessons and activities, anytime day or night.

      Enrollees will learn from experts regarding land management techniques and resources, alternative ranching, ecotourism opportunities and direct marketing. They will also learn how to set goals with measurable objectives for success.

      Upon course completion, participants will have a useful business plan for their operation and receive a Generation Next certificate and T-shirt.

Facilitating generational knowledge exchange

      Sheryl Mills’ family has managed a cow-calf operation in Lavaca County for roughly 50 years.

      Mills will be the second generation to steward this property, and she completed Generation Next during the spring. She said the coursework provided her with critical insight regarding management questions she needed to ask her aging father. 

      “So much knowledge sits in the heads of those who have worked these properties for generations,” Mills said. “It’s not that they don’t want to pass on the information, it’s more that those of us preparing to be the manager don’t know what questions to ask.”

      Following each week of the course, Mills took this newfound information and had conversations with her father.

      “This is valuable information that I wouldn’t have known I needed until it was too late,” Mills said.

      As she takes on the role of primary caretaker, Mills is thinking proactively in terms of options best suited for her family’s offsite management.

      “I wanted to start looking at options such as a wildlife exemption, prairie restoration and pollinator gardens—things that I’ll be able to maintain and pass on to the next generation,” Mills said.

      For more information, contact Clayton at 830-988-6123 or Megan.Clayton@ag.tamu.edu.

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