By Max Springer, ecological and land management intern at Pine Meadow Ranch
My work at Pine Meadow Ranch Center for Arts & Agriculture (PMRCAA) this summer has been a wonderful growth experience and was personally inspiring for me. The number one accomplishment I had for this summer was the completion of my solo environmental research project. Designing, proposing and implementing this project took a lot of work and I learned a lot during the process.
My goal through the project was to test the effectiveness of biochar in the restoration of pasture soil and try different methods of biochar application by comparing till and no-till techniques. My project fit in perfectly with the guiding principles at the ranch because it was new, relatively untested and our findings have the potential to help ranchers and farmers in our region.
In addition to my biochar project, I learned a plethora of new skills including fixing electric fences, feeding and moving cattle, operating tractors and tractor attachments, maintaining a garden, installing irrigation, running a chainsaw and more. Through this internship, I wanted to learn a lot of new and valuable skills, plan my own research project and make connections in the local farming/ranching community. I believe I achieved my goals.
My time at PMRCAA has really opened up the world of farming and ranching to me. I had previous experience working as a landscaper and at a nature preserve, but had never done any farming or ranching. In this internship, I learned how to take care of livestock and grow a harvestable and (hopefully!) profitable crop in our 40-acre agricultural field. Some specific things I learned are how to use rotational grazing to promote pasture health, how to herd cattle from one pasture to the next, and how to set up watering tanks with floats in strategic locations. I was involved in discussions about water usage, crop varieties, disease prevention, soil health, proposed costs, profits and equipment needed. I learned how to think in the long term for soil health in farming, what equipment and costs there are in haying, and about regenerative agriculture principles at-large. I want to grow my knowledge of farming and ranching and can see myself entering this career path. I have come to enjoy it and find personal fulfillment in the work. Spending time with cattle, sheep, horses, chickens and a donkey helped me understand the needs of animals and how to take care of them.
I have enjoyed working at the ranch and my internship a lot. I feel I have grown personally and explored possible career paths. Working with the land everyday helps grow a real connection with the flora and fauna that call it home. After a summer of working outdoors, I feel healthy and more confident in my ability to fix broken things, care for plants and animals, and operate vehicles. My three favorite memories of my internship are stacking straw bales in the Case IH tractor, petting our donkey and working closely with my fellow interns and supervisor.
Summer internships like Max’s occur annually at Pine Meadow Ranch Center for Arts & Agriculture (PMRCAA). The Ecological Land Management Intern supports the garden, livestock, and riparian restoration program and other ranch operations at PMRCAA that are in alignment with their interests. Future internship opportunities will be posted annually in the spring.