Local students get hands-on education in land stewardship - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Local students get hands-on education in land stewardship

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Amarillo, TX - Education is essential to keeping Texas land viable for future generations, and today (May 29), some area students had a field day on the open range this afternoon for an outdoor education experience called "Hands on the Land."

The Cross Bar is a 12,000 acre swath of land just north of Amarillo overseen by the Bureau of Land Management.  In fact, it is the only surface in Texas under BLM jurisdiction.  And earlier today, the BLM, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Department of Justice, West Texas A&M University, and Texas Tech University gave some local students a hands-on education in stewardship and conservation.

61 biology students from Caprock High School spent much of their day at the Cross Bar for special presentations ranging from cryogenics to radio telemetry. 

Adrian Escobar, a Natural Resource Specialist in the BLM, says the purpose of "Hands on the Land" is not just to educate, but to instill a set of lifelong values in the next generation of Texans.

"It's important for us as conservationists to capture the kids' minds now at this age, and get their attention, and hopefully get them interested in our field," says Escobar.

Texas is known for its wide-open spaces, but most of those wide-open spaces are privately owned.  In fact, less than three percent of Texas is considered public land, so stewardship falls almost entirely on the shoulders of private landowners.  And that means education is key to making the best use of our land now and in years to come.

"Looking for ways to make our land more productive is something that is just essential for our food supply and the economy of our area," says District 13 Representative Mac Thornberry, "and that's why any way we can encourage kids to look at those issues, it's going to be healthy for the long-term viability of agriculture, but especially the economy in our region."

This was the second "Hands on the Land" event, and organizers say they hope to continue giving area kids an outdoor education they won't soon forget.