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HMI, Healthy Land, Sustainable Future Calf Close UP


The HMI Board is gathering input from our community on the future direction of the organization. Please take a few minutes to respond to our anonymous survey.  We’ll be publishing the results on our website and IN PRACTICE, the journal for Holistic Management® practitioners.

The deadline for this survey is January 5, 2015. Thanks for your help in providing us valuable input!

Take the survey now.

HMI welcomes new board members

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HMI Board 2014


The HMI fall Board meeting was held in November prior to the Holistic Management Rendezvous 2014 . Board members from around the world came to continue work on HMI’s strategic plan as well as participate in the Rendezvous activities. We said thank you and goodbye to Sallie Calhoun, Gail Hammack, Ron Chapman, and Zizi Fritz who completed their board terms. Our new board members were also in attendance. Please join me in welcoming them to the HMI Community.

Kevin BoyerKevin Boyer

Kevin lives with his nine year-old son on a 1.5 acre homestead in Marin County, California.  He works as a Program Associate in the Ecological Agriculture program of the 11th Hour Project of the Schmidt Family Foundation.  As the lead for the foundation’s Regenerative Rangelands program Kevin understands what a powerful tool Holistic Management can be for land managers.  In fact, many of his Regenerative Rangelands partners use Holistic Management to regenerate their land, restore healthy water cycles and sequester carbon in the soil where it is most helpful.  Kevin is pleased to be invited to join the board of such an effective and historic organization and hopes he can support HMI in its national and international grassroots focus in the years to come.

Walter LynnWalter Lynn Jr.

Walter is a CPA from Springfield, Illinois. He has 2 children Abby and Chris. Abby lives in Columbus, Ohio; she works with high school students with autism, focusing on teaching academic, social, and independent living skills. Chris works with a company in Nashville, Tennessee that provides data services to the financial sector. Walter owned his own CPA firm for over 30 years, concentrating on farm and ranch clients. The firm provided accounting and tax services. He sold his firm in January 2014 and he is presently consulting with his firm purchaser. His family is presently involved in central Illinois farming.

Walter has a connection with HMI that is originally through a Stockman Grass Farmer conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. Walter’s name was drawn for a free HRM seminar at that meeting. He has a keen interest in grazing livestock and the related positive impact on farm or ranch soils. Soils are a huge part of the triple bottom line that is part of HMI’s mission.

Guy Glosson, HMI BoardGuy Glosson

Guy  is a long-time Holistic Management practitioner and Certified Educator. He has been repeatedly recognized for outstanding land stewardship and livestock handling. He has over 30 years of experience in Holistic Management, low-stress livestock handling and consulting to farmers and ranchers.  Down to earth, with an engaging style, Guy has coached hundreds of people in his successful management methods.  Under his holistic approach to land stewardship, he has enhanced the fertility and profitability of the ranch where he has been a manager for the past 26 years.  In 2011, he was recognized for his success with the award for Outstanding Leadership in Ranching from the Quivira Coalition, an organization dedicated to bringing together ranchers, environmentalists, scientists and public land stewards in the American West. Mesquite Grove Ranch, under Guy’s management, received the prestigious Lone Star Land Steward Award from Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Full List of HMI Board Members>>

Courses Coming to OR, CA, and CO

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Whole Farm/Ranch Business Planning course at the TomKat Ranch in Pescadero, California

Whole Farm/Ranch Business Planning course at the TomKat Ranch in Pescadero, California

Earlier this year we piloted a  new program to teach Holistic Business Planning  in New Mexico and California. The program was extremely well received and we are very please to announce our Whole Farm/Ranch Business Planning Course schedule for 2015.   We are particularly delighted to announce scholarships and support from the Terry Gompert Memorial Scholarship,  the Valley Food Partnership, and the Sallie Calhoun – Christiano Family Fund.  All of these courses are also approved for FSA Borrower Training Credit.

Because of the scholarships, these courses tend to fill up quickly, so be sure to register soon. (Our last course in California sold out). You’ll find course and scholarship details by following the links below.

The Grange Farm School, Willits, California

Instructor: Holistic Management Certified Educator, Richard King
January 17, 2015 – Introduction to Holistic Management Whole/Farm Ranch Planning
January 30-31, 2015 – Holistic Financial Planning
March 6-7, 2015 Holistic Marketing and Business Planning
9:00 – 5:00 each day
Scholarship Deadline: January 8, 2015
Registration Deadline: January 10, 2015. Registration is Open

Jackson SWCD, Central Point, Oregon

Instructor: Holistic Management Certified Educator, Rob Rutherford
January 17, 2015 – Introduction to Holistic Management Whole/Farm Ranch Planning
January 30-31, 2015 – Holistic Financial Planning
February 20-21, 2015 Holistic Marketing and Business Planning
9:00 – 5:00 each day
Scholarship Deadline: January 8, 2015
Registration Deadline: January 10, 2015. Registration is Open

Montrose, Colorado

Instructor: Holistic Management Certified Educator, Cindy Dvergsten
February 7, 2015 – Introduction to Holistic Management Whole/Farm Ranch Planning
February 20-21, 2015 – Holistic Financial Planning
March 6-7, 2015 Holistic Marketing and Business Planning
9:00 – 5:00 each day
Scholarship Deadline: January 16, 2015
Registration Deadline: January 30, 2015. Registration is Open

Chihuahuan Desert Grasslands of Mexico Video

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Recently the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory created an 8-minute video about the great work being done by Holistic Management ranchers in the Chihuahuan Desert Grasslands. Ranchers such as Jesus Alemeida and Alejandro Carrillo are using Holistic Management to help improve the grassland health which in turn improves bird habitat. The video is in Spanish with English subtitles and the ranchers do a great job explaining why they changed management practices and the results they have gotten because of those changes.


Practitioners honored for their work

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Holistic Mangement Practitioners, Birdwell & Clark Ranch


We are so proud of Holistic Management practitioners and HMI supporters, Deborah Clark and Emry Birdwell of the Birdwell/Clark Ranch in Texas.  They have been awarded the 2014 UNT Quail Keystone Ranch Award.  The award honors ranchers who participate in UNT Quail research, implement quail management practices and demonstrate improvement in quail population numbers, and host UNT Quail field days or educational events for the North Texas region.  As a matter of fact, Deborah and Emry hosted on of HMI’s Cows & Quail programs last year. Here’s an excerpt from an article Matt Kelton of the Pioneer Sentinel wrote.

Deborah Clark and Emry Birdwell manage the 14,200 Birdwell and Clark Ranch east of Henrietta. Clark and Birdwell focus on wildlife sustainability and sustainable grazing through holistic management practices, and have seen a 452 percent improvement in bobwhite quail populations on their land this fall, earning them the 2014 UNT Quail Keystone Ranch Award. Their efforts were honored during a reception held in Dallas on Nov. 13.  Read More….

I had the honor of meeting Deborah at the recent Holistic Management Rendezvous 2014 and was impressed with her enthusiasm, skill, and commitment to the practice of Holistic Management and her support of HMI.

Congratulations Deborah and Emry!!!

HMI courses approved by FSA

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Approved HMI Training Programs help farmers and ranchers qualify for FSA loans

Approved HMI Training Programs help farmers and ranchers qualify for FSA loans

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) has a number of loan programs for farmers and ranchers that need to borrow money to start, expand, sustain, or make changes to their businesses.  To better qualify for many of the FSA’s loan programs, applicants may need to take training courses in order gain skills necessary for farm/ranch production or financial management. HMI is pleased to offer a number of courses in Holistic Management that have been rigorously reviewed and approved by the FSA.

You’ll find the list of qualified states and the approved courses on our FSA Borrower Training page.

Rendezvous Recap

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The Rendezvous gave folks a chance to network with each other

The Rendezvous gave folks a chance to network with each other


The Holistic Management Rendezvous 2014 kicked off on Friday, November 7th to a standing room only crowd at the beautiful new Josey Pavilion on the Dixon Foundation’s Leo Ranch. We are proud to have co-hosted the event with the Dixon Water Foundation. Together we welcomed folks – from around Texas, the U.S. and beyond.

Richard Teague, Associate Director & Professor in the Sustainable Rangeland Management Program and Texas A&M AgriLife Research, opened up the proceedings with a presentation about his research on Holistic Management practitioner operations. His research is driven by the need to develop macro-economic strategies to facilitate getting excellent managers in control on the land while forwarding national goals to make agriculture more regenerative while removing unintended consequences so producers can improve the environment, the livelihoods of those managing the land, and the well-being of humans and global habitats.

The Josey Pavilion served as a welcoming backdrop for a number of informative presentations

The Josey Pavilion served as a welcoming backdrop for a number of informative presentations

Then, Tenna Florian, Architect of Lake/Flato LEED certified Architecture gave a brief presentation about the building of the Josey Pavilion and the innovative, sustainable building and landscaping practices used to make it the first certified Living Building in Texas, which in part means all the water and energy used by the building is generated onsite through rainwater collection and solar panels.

After the opening presentations, the Dixon Water Foundation treated us to a lovely gala dinner featuring grass-fed roasted lamb, which had been raised on the ranch. After dinner, Courtney White, Founder and Creative Director of the Quivira Coalition spoke about the work being done to improve carbon in agriculture and how to get more people using those practices.


Experienced ranchers share their experiences with folks new to Holistic Management

On Saturday we all came back for HMI’s Open Gate: Dixon Water Foundation Leo Ranch Day. Dr. Ann Adams, Director of Programs began the day by introducing the Certified Educators and key participants who acted as facilitators during various small group exercise. She then turned the microphone over to Dr. Lisa Bellows of North Central Texas College who has worked with the Leo Ranch. She, along with Leo Ranch staff, shared how the Leo Ranch is using Holistic Management as well as the results they are getting.

Our fowl lunch (pun intended) included a round of Chicken Sheet Bingo. Participates placed their bets on marked-off squares. The chickens were pre-loaded with a hearty lunch and let go! If a chicken pooped on you square you won. We collected $850 dollars in “bets”. All proceeds will go to support HMI’s training programs for farmers and ranchers. Thanks to all who participated in this fun event!

Chicken Sheet Bingo!

Chicken Sheet Bingo!

After lunch, we got out on the land. Dixon Ranches General Manager Robbie Tuggle and Lisa Bellows showed us biological monitoring areas and cover crop experiments. We then went to the handling facilities to watch Certified Educator Guy Glosson demonstrate a couple of key points about moving cattle with ease by knowing how the cow is likely to behave.

Around 4:30 we transitioned to our evening activities — all part of HMI’s 30th Anniversary Celebration. Our first order of business was perhaps one of the most important of the weekend. HMI Board members hosted a listening session where members of the community shared their thoughts on what HMI should explore during our next 30 years.

PB080409.small, Wayne Night

HMI Board member, Wayne Knight talks about Holistic Management practices in South Africa

HMI’s new Executive Director, Bryan Weech, introduced our next segment which focused on international Holistic Management practitioners. Canada’s Kelly Sidoryk, Wayne Knight from South Africa, Dr. Ben Bartlett from Michigan and Rob Rutherford from California each talked about what is happening with Holistic Management in their locale and what they had seen in their travels. Long-time HMI board members Jim Parker and Clint Josey were also recognized for their long-time service to HMI.

One of the most moving sessions of the weekend occurred after our BBQ dinner. Five Certified Educators in Training via the Beginning Women Farmers and Ranchers Program shared how this education has changed their lives, their relationships, their landscapes, their finances and their relationships. Their instructor in the program, Peggy Sechrist, talked about how the Beginning Women Farmers and Ranchers program has integrated the Holistic Management curriculum with a few additional topics and a healthy dose of network creation to become a effective program within the Holistic Management offerings. Holistic Management Certified Educator in Training, Deborah Clark, who is in the Individualized Certified Educator Training Program, talked about how Holistic Management has strengthened the triple bottom line on the ranch she shares with husband Emry Birdwell. She feels so strongly that she dropped her donation for HMI programs into the silver boot and encouraged others to do the same.

IMG_0405.small. Board

Community members discuss ideas with board members for HMI’s next 30 years.

We closed out the evening with a fantastic performance by Kristyn Harris, the 2014 Academy of Western Artists Western Female Performer of the Year.

On Sunday we switched locations for our Open Gate: Running High Ranch Day. Holistic Management Certified Educator Peggy Sechrist started us off in the morning with an outline of the day’s agenda. Gary and Sue Price told about growing water as a crop on their 77 Ranch in Blooming Grove, Texas. The idea is that the cities and industries rely on good watershed management to assure their supply of fresh clean water. Dr. Richard Teague gave a presentation of the biological benefits of Holistic Planned Grazing and the research statistics to prove it. Peggy Sechrist had a giant grazing planning chart she used to explain this amazing tool for managing the complexity of getting the right animals to the right place at the right time for the right reasons.

Jerry Addison shares his management practices with the group.

Jerry Addison shares his management practices with the group.

After lunch, we got out on the land for a tour of the Running High Ranch. Ranch owner Jerry Addison oriented us to the land and the practices. Deborah Clark taught us how to set up a monitoring transect and let folks experience monitoring the land along its length. We walked out on a ridge overlooking acres and acres of the Running High. Jerry Addison, astride his trusty 4-wheeler, zipped down to move the cattle to fresh pasture in a wonderful display of Bud Williams stockmanship techniques adapted to the ATV.

We wrapped up the day at the Running High Ranch where folks discussed with continued conversations on holistic ranching practices.

In between all of these events the 20 plus Holistic Management Certified Educators and those in training met early each morning to discuss opportunities for collaboration, explore ways of improving programming, and network.

Holistic Management Certified Educators and HMI staff share ideas.

Holistic Management Certified Educators and HMI staff share ideas.

Before we start planning for our next Rendezvous, we’d like to thank all the volunteers that made this event possible, as well as our co-host and sponsors.

  • The Dixon Water Foundation
  • Keystone Foods
  • Green Cover Seeed
  • Texas Range Minerals
  • Fertrell
  • Connemara Conservancy
  • Highland Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Sustainable Growth Texas
  • Texas Wildlife
  • MicroLife
  • Montesino Ranch
  • CD Pounds

Participant Comments

“Enjoyed it, meeting the HMI community and seeing some practices first hand.”
“Very impressive!”
“Really liked the class time and the outdoor pasture talks.”
“Very good – really liked opportunity to witness first hand low stress animal handling.”
“Good vibe. Lots of introductions and learning.”
“Excellent! Loved the new pavilion as a venue.”
“Good event – great opportunity to interact with other CEs and outstanding practitioners.”
“Very enjoyable. Loved meeting like-minded people.”
“The testing group exercise was difficult. I guess this is real life.”
“Very well done. Congratulations!”
“A wealth of knowledge here!”
“Great diversity of topics and leveraging of site-specific learning opportunity.”

Evaluations from this program showed the following results for people managing over 286,960 acres :

Outcome% of Participants
Ability to analyze ecosystem health76%
Increased confidence in planning grazing to cover soil80%
Intention to create or modify written grazing plan68%
Intention to create or modify written management plans84%
Increased confidence in decision testing62%
Intention to complete or modify biological monitoring process85%
Expanded network as a result of event96%
Would recommend this event to others97%
Overall satisfaction of program97%

Open Gate: Montesino Ranch Recap

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The web of life – land and water health taught at Montesino Ranch Open Gate

Collecting samples in the Blanco river

Collecting samples in the Blanco river

HMI Program Manager Peggy Cole filed this report on our most recent Open Gate Learning Day….

The October 25th Open Gate at Montesino Ranch was an amazing exploration of mutual aid among people, plants, soil and water systems. HMI Program Manager Peggy Cole welcomed the group and explained the various HMI programs in service to our mission to educate people to manage land for a sustainable future. Holistic Management Certified Educator, Peggy Sechrist facilitated the day and opened with a short talk about the role of Holistic Management in creating a well-functioning water cycle necessary for the resilience needed to withstand drought.

Holistic Management practitioner Betsy Ross leads a discussion on Bermuda grass in the garden

Holistic Management practitioner Betsy Ross leads a discussion on Bermuda grass in the garden

Betsy Ross was her always-dynamic self in teaching the microbial balance by having the participants play the roles of bacteria and fungi, reacting to management decisions by dying or thriving (dramatically!). The results on the remaining web of life were obvious – we need all in balance to create a resilient landscape.

Betsy joined ranch manager Pam Mitchell Gayler on a tour of the ranch, describing the role of the weeds relative to soil needs and the microbial balance, while Pam talked about the various enterprises at the Ranch. The market garden at the farm is operated by Sam Woodward. Peach and fig orchards and blackberries dot the 9-acre farm. Guest-stays in the studios and the event production add income, as does hunting and the grass-fed beef operation, all managed by Pam. Chickens, eggs, a kitchen garden and recreational hike and bike trails have been added primarily to enhance the guest experience of local, organic foods and clean country activity. Sheep and goats have been added to the beef operation as meat and as landscaping tools. Scenic but rustic buildings provide an atmosphere of functional beauty.

Ranch Manager, Pam Mitchell Gayler describes the enterprises at Montesino.

Ranch Manager, Pam Mitchell Gayler describes the enterprises at Montesino.

Tracy Litle showed a few slides of her Faith Hollow Ranch in south Texas, demonstrating the improvement over the past 3 years since she began her practice of Holistic Management. Livestock and compost tea have made great strides in turning her “Thorn Forest” into beautiful grassland.

After a delicious Thyme and Dough sandwich for lunch, we turned our attention to water. Lauri Celella used the rainfall simulator to emphasize the benefits of deep-rooted grasses in optimizing the water cycle. Biodiversity adds variety to the depth and place in the food web of the various root structures. Litter eases the raindrops’ fall and protects from evaporation.

Ricky Linnex talks about the plants most desirable for holding stream banks in place while creating a riparian sponge.

Ricky Linnex talks about the plants most desirable for holding stream banks in place while creating a riparian sponge.

The group of 70 participants walked down to the river for a lesson in assessing water health by identifying the macro invertebrates and their ability to live in polluted waters. Lindsay Sansom from Meadows Center for Water and the Environment helped us understand the food web in rivers and streams and let us go fishing for critters to identify (we found that the Blanco River hosts pollution-sensitive organisms, which means it is a clean environment).

NRCS plant specialist Ricky Linnex gave a short talk about riparian function and the best vegetation for stream bank stability. He answered questions about NRCS programs to aid in riparian management. Peggy Sechrist led a discussion about the take-aways from the day. Though it was hot and very sunny, most agreed it was a great day of learning and networking.

Participant Comments

“Very positive. This is my second HMI event. I brought my brother and mother along to introduce them to these ideas which excite me.”

“I loved it! Very well put on.”

“I enjoyed being with land owners interested in a holistic approach to managing land.”

“It was very enjoyable and intensely educational. I began the day knowing close to nothing about land and resource management. I left with a lot of new and exciting info!”

“Great event for newbies.”

“Exciting, informative, great networking, good knowledge shared.”

“Great opportunity to learn and meet people interested in managing holistically.”

Participants tour Montesino, learning the benefits of no-till and weeds.

Participants tour Montesino, learning the benefits of no-till and weeds.


Question% Participants
Overall Satisfaction (Rated good to excellent)98%
Would you recommend this event to others100%
Expand your network today be meeting new people or learning about resources available to you?98%
Intend to change management practices practices/apply ideas you've learned.79%
Intend to pursue biological monitoring on you land.80%
Understand the role of soil biology in the water cycle89%
Understand how the use of grazing can influence soil health89%
How to assess the water quality in streams77%
Understand critical monitoring criteria to build biological wealth and mitigate drought84%
Why riparian areas are managed differently than uplands82%

Getting Started Introduction to Holistic Management Whole Farm/Ranch Planning Course Results

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HMI’s Online Learning Series Getting Started Introduction to Holistic Management Whole Farm/Ranch Planning course began in September 2014 with 32 participants from all around the world. This course focused on key Holistic Management planning concepts and principles to help participants manage their farm/ranch for the triple bottom line (social, environmental, and financial sustainability) and more effectively manage resources. The participants were excited to improve their ability to observe, understand, and make decisions, based on what they can control. Through these new skills the participants are eager to improve their ability to partner with nature on their farms and ranches and to increase their productivity.

The participants contributed to the course and experienced key knowledge and behavior changes including:

Knowledge/Behavior and Confidence Increase% Increase
How to inventory your farm resources 80%
Ability to integrate social, economic and environmental factors into your decisions82%
Your ability to understand ecosystem health 82%
Your ability to assess ecosystem health 100%
Intend to develop a whole farm goal100%
Overall satisfaction of the course 100%

What the Participants Had to Say:

“It was a good blend of reading, peer interactions and the webinars were enjoyable.”

“The instructor did a good job of explaining each screen in the PowerPoint.”

“The course content was good and I found the webinars effective.”

“Good value for the price. Convenient and allowed us to take this training, which we’ve wanted to for years, but have been unable to due to distance and cost.”

“Very well managed.”

The Future of Animal Agriculture

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Holistic Management Practitioners, Texas, Montesino ranch

Two recent events have created an opportunity to reflect on important issues affecting the future of animal agriculture. The first is a recently published National Geographic article entitled Carnivore’s Dilemma by Robert Kunzig and photographs by Brian Finke. The second is the recent release of the Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Beef  by the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. Both occurrences highlight both the complexity of and the increasing attention to sustainability within meat production. The good news is that HMI is in a great position to contribute to the continuous improvement of the sustainability of production agriculture.

In the case of the National Geographic article, the discussion focuses on the extensive list of challenges, and the consequences and complexity of meat production (heavy emphasis on beef production). While some in our community emphasize the negative aspects of “big agriculture”, an honest assessment must also recognize the positive contributions as well, such as increased efficiencies that contribute to producing more food with the same land base. However, there are serious issues that need to be addressed, such as a dependency on inputs and their consequences on the environment. The article, although short on conclusions and recommendations, not necessarily a bad thing considering the source, does a fair job of pointing out the range of issues and both the negative and positive implications. I recommend anyone interested in the sustainability of animal agriculture to read the article.

Ross-cows-2012-295x210The second event was the release of the much anticipated Principles and Criteria of Sustainable Beef by the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. Curiously, until the recent release of these principles and criteria there hasn’t been a broadly accepted definition or understanding of what constitutes sustainable beef. The definition, which was developed by a multi-stakeholder group, is a major accomplishment. The interesting aspect of the Principles and Criteria is that they were developed using a consensus building process that included input from across the beef value chain and with input from all major beef producing areas around the world….a truly ambitious understanding that is unprecedented in both scope and scale. The implications of this bold step toward creating a broadly accepted baseline understanding of beef sustainability is that the discussion will soon shift from “what is sustainable beef” (current) to “how do we produce sustainable beef” (future). This is where HMI is in an important position with our network to help shape the future understanding on how sustainability is accomplished. With our mission of ‘educating people to manage land for a sustainable future’, HMI is well-positioned to contribute to the upcoming dialogue.

So what does all this mean? Although few are talking about it, I suggest that sustainability self-assessment will become an increasing focal point in which various groups and organization will begin to partner. We need to answer questions such as: What is an adequate self-assessment of an operation’s sustainability? Where does one find an assessment? How is a self-assessment done? These questions will provide a great discussion in the months to come. HMI’s Holistic Management Certified Educator network could be an important delivery system for the next steps of sustainability. As an organization HMI will strive to create value by positioning ourselves to contribute to the upcoming discussions and opportunities to shape the world to manage land for a sustainable future.