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**HMI EVENT** New Mexico – Open Gate: El Sueño Ranch Day

October 25

Stanley, New Mexico

October 25, 2019 — 9:00AM – 4:00PM — $30 (includes lunch!)

El Sueño Ranch Day is part of HMI’s Open Gate Learning Series. Open Gates are peer-to-peer action-based learning days with short presentations and small group exercises geared for participants to share discoveries and management techniques with guidance from experienced facilitators and producers. This event will highlight regenerative ag practices–water distribution and erosion control, wildlife considerations, biological monitoring and holistic planned grazing–yielding successes at El Sueño Ranch.

What to Expect:

At El Sueño Ranch Day you will…

  • Learn how Holistic Management enables producers to clearly identify & meet their goals, make better decisions and enjoy the benefits of regenerative agriculture
  • Meet Albert Lowry and the El Sueño Ranch management team and learn how they are developing the ranch to be more profitable, more productive and to meet their quality of life goals.
  • Discover how Holistic Management Planned Grazing improves the soil and moves plant succession in the right direction
  • Take part in a hands-on exercise to learn about the health of the soil
  • Discuss key soil health indicators, how to read the land and record monitoring results.
  • Connect with like-minded folks from your area
  • Learn about grass-fed meat production and marketing
  • Practice effective land management techniques to improve rangeland productivity, water-holding capacity, improved soil health and increased stocking rate.
  • Enjoy a delicious lunch!



Friday October 25, 2019
9:00 Registration & Check-in – Kirk Gadzia
9:15 Welcome & Introduction to Holistic Management – Stephanie von Ancken & Kirk Gadzia
9:30 El Sueño Ranch Story – Albert Lowry & Chuck Kuchta
9:50 Introduction to Holistic Grazing & Biological Monitoring, Grazing Planning Process – Kirk Gadzia
11:30 Collaborator Talks: Quivira Coalition, Southwest Grassfed Livestock Alliance & Audubon New Mexico
Noon Lunch
1:00 El Sueño Ranch Tour & Grazing Plan Overview – Albert Lowry, Chuck Kuchta & Kirk Gadzia
1:45 Water Distribution & Erosion Control Talk – Chuck Kuchta & Kirk Gadzia
2:15 Biological Monitoring Demonstration – Kirk Gadzia
3:15 Wildlife Considerations – Chuck Kuchta & Kirk Gadzia
3:30 Q & A with all speakers
4:00 Evaluations & Adjourn


Albert T. Lowry, Owner, El Sueño Ranch

Albert was born and has lived in Laredo, Texas for most of his life. He is a Texas Aggie, having studied at Texas A&M University, receiving a degree in Animal Science ’78 and continuing studies for a Masters in Ag Economics. He has primarily been a Banker for over 35 years in Laredo, as a lender for commercial, international and agricultural businesses. In addition to being a banker and a rancher, he likes to help people and has been active in many organizations that educate and assist people in rural areas and agricultural pursuits, and thus his willingness to host the HMI Open Gate event – hoping to let others see what has been implemented but also to meet like-minded people from whom he can learn!

However, Albert’s true passion is ranching! He was “ infected “ with the ranch bug from an early age, his home ranch being in the family since the 1880s, enjoying time at the ranch with his family and being with his Dad who tried to teach him common sense, and about the outdoors – how to hunt, observe wildlife and about all the South Texas native grasses, forbs and brush – where everything either bites, sticks or stings you.

He began his own ranching in earnest by leasing land at the age of 25. He was an early believer in solar and has continued the use of electric fencing and water pumping. It has certainly not been easy, having dealt with several severe droughts, suffering with herd liquidations and having little money, but always focusing on improving the land, the efforts recognized by the SCS who awarded him the “South Texas Region Conservation Rancher of the Year” in the 1986 .

He is married to his wife of 30 years, and together they enjoy friends, family, travel, and raising dogs and cows!

Kirk Gadzia, Holistic Management International Certified Educator, Founder of Resource Management Services, LLC

Kirk has over 20 years of experience teaching the concepts of Holistic Management® worldwide. Combined with his extensive international consulting work on many agricultural operations, he is uniquely qualified to help ranchers achieve their learning objectives. Kirk is co-author of the important National Academy of Sciences book: Rangeland Health. He holds a BS degree in Wildlife Biology and an MS in Range Science. Kirk works directly with producers to achieve profitability in their operations. He also provides customized training and consulting to a wide variety of conservation organizations. Kirk’s interactive, hands-on style approach comes from years of assisting people on the land. His courses are known for a relaxed atmosphere, open dialogue and practical real-life examples.

Chuck Kutcha, Ranch Manager, El Sueño Ranch

Chuck Kuchta is going into his 4th year as ranch manager for El Sueño Ranch. As a native New Mexico rancher, he has a strong passion for the land and water of our state. In 2004 Chuck officially became involved and completed the HMI ranch and range program. He has managed several ranches in southeastern and northern New Mexico and is a successful fly fishing guide in Santa Fe.

Jonathan (Jon) Hayes, Executive Director, Audubon New Mexico
​Jon has strong conservation expertise through his professional experience at multiple levels in public service. Over the last decade, Jon has built strong partnerships between public and private organizations to provide scalable conservation outcomes across multiple types of ecosystems. He has specifically focused on meaningful programs that conserve native bird species and the habitats they rely on.

Jon served with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative where he was responsible for guiding multi-organizational development and implementation of applied research projects. In this capacity, he coordinated landscape-level cooperative projects in a six-state region amongst federal agencies, state wildlife agencies, and multiple non-profit organizations focused on improving conservation effectiveness in western grassland and riparian ecosystems. Additionally, he has served with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture (OPJV), working at a programmatic level to implement regional conservation efforts aimed at restoring declining grassland bird populations. Among his achievements in this role was the development of the OPJV Grassland Restoration Incentive Program, which was responsible for the improvement of grassland habitat quality on over 60,000 acres of private working lands in Texas.

Jon holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Population and Organismic Biology from the University of Colorado and a Master’s of Science in Natural Resource Conservation from the University of Montana.

Sarah Wentzel-Fisher, Executive Director, Quivira Coalition

Sarah has worked in food and agriculture planning for the past seven years with a focus on supporting young and beginning farmers and ranchers. She was the editor of Edible Santa Fe from 2011 to 2017. From 2013 to 2015 she worked for the National Young Farmers Coalition as an organizer and is currently the board president of the Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust. She is a committed champion of the local food movement and of resilient agriculture demonstrated by her work with La Montanita Co-op, New Mexico’s longest running and largest member Co-op, by co-founding the Albuquerque Grower’s Alliance, and through her graduate research in small-scale agriculture in the region. In her free time she enjoys visiting farms and ranches, experimenting in her kitchen, and keeping chickens in her backyard.

Stephanie von Ancken, Programs Manager, Holistic Management International 

Stephanie von Ancken is a programs manager, advanced ceramic apprentice and anti-oppression activist. She is passionate about environmental justice and regenerative farming as a solution to transforming our food system and addressing climate change. She grew up in Corrales, New Mexico, where her family raised chickens, and has spent significant time living in Finland, France, Nicaragua and Tijuana.

As Program Manager at Holistic Management International, Stephanie has spent the last three years developing learning opportunities, both locally and internationally, that aim to educate farmers, ranchers and food advocates in agricultural practices that increase organic matter in soil, grow nutritiously dense foods, and sequester carbon while empowering them to strengthen their businesses and improve their quality of life.

Stephanie has a bachelor’s degree in International Business Management and a minor in Sustainability Studies from the University of New Mexico/College of Charleston/IPAG School of Business – Nice, France. She is an Aldo Leopold Land Ethic Leader and is glad she “will not be young in a future without wilderness.”

Joan Bybee, Owner/Operator, Mesteño Draw Ranch

Joan Bybee owns and manages Mesteño Draw Ranch, a small-scale grass fed cattle operation that employs sustainable grazing practices on a relatively small amount of land. Joan has made a concerted effort to restore and enhance the Mesteno Draw riparian corridor, working with the Quivira Coalition, the Claunch-Pinto Soil and Water Conservation District, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to install small and large rock dams all along the draw to help slow the flow of water and prevent further channelization and erosion by building up sediment. Under the guidance of Bill Zeedyk, crews have installed a system of plug and spread structures that distribute water onto the grassland. Her direct marketing grassfed beef business has many happy healthy customers. Joan has served on the boards of the Quivira Coalition and the Southwest Grassfed Livestock Alliance.


Register Button Green Large


Advanced registration is $30 per person (includes lunch). Online registration closes October 20, 2019.  Walk in registration is $35 per person, if available.

Register soon, as we have limited space available. Sorry, registration fees are non-refundable.

If you are unable to register online, please fill out the HMI Event Registration Form and mail along with your check or money order to:

HMI Registration Dept.
5941 Jefferson St. NE, Ste B
Albuquerque, NM 87109

This is a rain or shine event. Please bring appropriate clothing, footwear and a water bottle. For biosecurity reasons please do not bring any dogs.

About the Ranch:

26262 Hwy 285
Stanley, NM  87056

El Sueño Ranch – (The “dream” in Spanish )

Always dreaming about owning a ranch in the West – with it’s wide open spaces and limitless vistas, Albert was finally able to figure out a way to acquire one. After researching and looking at many ranches in New Mexico all of them seemed to have issues –some beat up, some access concerns to, or across the land–but this one….was it ! He knew the minute he got on it! Wide open, rolling, 100% usable, mountain views, good quality water, decent turf, not too brushy, (considering having undergone a 5 year drought and decades of conventional year around grazing). This one was a blank canvas – not a whole lot to fix, so no rush, but a whole lot to implement and improve if you have the desire!

Albert flew out at a moment’s notice to meet the realtor, saw the ranch, submitted an offer at the airport, all in a 6 hour window, and was notified by the time he was landing back home that he had a deal. He found El Sueño Ranch on his 58th birthday in 2014.

The ranch is about 10,000 acres, carved off of Joe Russel’s – “Buck Harvey – White Lakes Ranch” and was pretty much unimproved but in decent condition, allowing for some creativity to be applied to try and accomplish range improvement through implementing a rotational grazing strategy and improvements, consisting of ~ 18 miles of solar powered electric cross fencing – creating 16 pastures along topo and vegetative variances, and laying ~12 miles of buried water lines, incorporating 7 central water lots and additional troughs, all supplied by solar powered pumps and wells.

Their focus is enabling range improvement which will allow for enhanced livestock production (while they act as your tool) and improved wildlife habitat, pursuing a plan that enables a low stress operation allowing one to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor!

El Sueño Ranch Timeline:

2015 Naming the ranch! Albert and his wife, Diana, came to Santa Fe for New Years, drove out to change the locks and there was a dusting of snow. Diana found a dried sunflower stalk and wrote in the snow “El Sueño”. That was it, the perfect name.

First year activities entailed evaluating what they got and attacking some erosions concerns.

2016 – Albert learned about the grass and the soils, hired Chuck Kutcha, started Headquarters build out, consulted with Kirk Gadzia on productivity possibilities, fencing layout respecting topo and vegetation breaks, drew up maps with fencing and water distribution, and found contractors to start the build out

2017 Implemented the plan, tried their first go round with pasturing cattle ( ~120 pair) to help out a friend, … yikes – stayed dry and fencing was not quite finished to exclude or rotate cattle…this hurt some areas.

2018 – another dry year, had another round of pastured cattle, ( 140 pair) with understanding, “if dry – they gotta go”….. and they did. He did notice a big drop in grasshoppers from hoof action, range conditions appeared to respond well to having been grazed and some soil disturbance .

2019 – – thru June….Pasturing cattle again, ( 150 pair) same agreement, cool season grasses did gang busters due to good winter moisture (this they saw on many properties… ) lots of grass hoppers, –though lots fewer in pasture where cattle are grazing….

Albert says the Ranch is “DEFINITELY a work in progress”, and he’d like to learn from others, through attending ranch tours, attending informative meetings of groups like HMI, Quiviria Coalition, and other like minded associations and universities following their research and articles, visiting with area NRCS / SCS offices, etc. He says “he will continue to make some mistakes, but he hopes to recognize them and correct them early”.

Albert says that, “After being able to be “on the ground” with Sid & Cheryl Goodloe’s – Carrizo Valley Ranch, Tom & Mimi Sidwell’s – JX Ranch and on the Ranney Ranch with manager Melvin Johnson, to see the significant improvement their rangeland reflects compared to their neighboring area lands, and listening and understanding the likes of Allan Savory, Dr Richard Teague and guidance from Kirk Gadzia, he remains hopeful that El Sueño too can show noticeable improvements over the next 10 years, and we will enjoy sharing their story – both their successes and disappointments, so that others too will accept the challenge to help and improve the land, to be as healthy and resilient as its potential allows.”


Special thank you to our funder for making this day possible:

Thank you to our Sponsor:

Thank you to our host and collaborators:


Sponsor This Series:

Our Open Gate series offers organizations, agencies and businesses a great opportunity to network with farmers, ranchers and consumers interested in sustainable agricultural ideas, products and services. We offer a variety of affordable Sponsorship Opportunities to connect you with our community. Please email Stephanie von Ancken at [email protected] for more information.



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