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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Connemara Conservancy
- Highland Soil and Water Conservation District
- Sustainable Growth Texas
- Texas Wildlife
- Montesino Ranch
- CD Pounds
“Enjoyed it, meeting the HMI community and seeing some practices first hand.”
“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 :
|% of Participants
|Ability to analyze ecosystem health
|Increased confidence in planning grazing to cover soil
|Intention to create or modify written grazing plan
|Intention to create or modify written management plans
|Increased confidence in decision testing
|Intention to complete or modify biological monitoring process
|Expanded network as a result of event
|Would recommend this event to others
|Overall satisfaction of program