Rangelands cover nearly half of Idaho (26 million acres) and provide many goods and services including livestock forage, wildlife habitat, water, outdoor recreation, renewable energy and minerals, and open space.
These iconic western landscapes influence the lives and livelihoods of nearly all Idahoans because 90% of Idaho citizens live amidst rangelands or in areas that were rangeland prior to cultivation and development. Idaho’s economy depends heavily on rangelands as 65% of the total land area of Idaho is grazed by domestic cattle and sheep that support rural communities and agricultural enterprises.
The Idaho State FFA Rangeland Assessment Career Development Event (CDE) is held each fall near Burley, in conjunction with the state soils judging event. FFA members from across Idaho test their knowledge of rangeland management and learn about college degree programs that can lead to careers managing and conserving rangelands.
The goal of this contest is to raise young people’s awareness of rangelands and introduce skills used by trained professionals. Students who are trained in the technical skills, such as plant identification and vegetation measurement protocols, can pursue opportunities for seasonal employment.
The Idaho Rangeland Assessment CDE has four units completed out on the range and one scenario completed in the classroom. Units include:
- Plant Identification and Ecological Site Description
- Rangeland Management
- Habitat Evaluation for Domestic Grazers (even years)
- Habitat Evaluation for Wildlife (odd years)
- Stocking Rate and Management Recommendations
The top five teams advance to the Western National Rangeland CDE where they compete with other top-ranking teams from across the west.