Round River Resource ManagementEight-Month Ranching Apprenticeship in Rush, Colorado
Round River Resource Management, LLC is a land resource and livestock management company dedicated to restoring and improving agricultural operations through the principles of Holistic ManagementTM in a sustainable manner and consistent with the goals of the resource owner. The name Round River is derived from the metaphorical river described by Aldo Leopold that flows endlessly into itself, circling around and around in a never ending circuit that symbolizes the current of life. Leopold’s illustration describes the manner in which energy streams from the soil into plants, then into animals and finally back into the soil in a continuous circuit of life. Round River Resource Management was founded in 2008 to manage the Brett Gray Ranch and other agricultural enterprises following the principles of Holistic ManagementTM and to provide educational and business opportunities that help young, innovative people enter the ranching business.
Meet the mentors
Meet the apprentice
Round River Resource Management
The Brett Gray Ranch is a 50,000-acre ranch currently leased and managed by Round River from the Colorado State Land Board. In partnership with the State Land Board and The Nature Conservancy, Round River has a three-part goal to maintain a productive and sustainable ranching operation, encourage science and stewardship that maintains biodiversity and a sustainable prairie ecosystem. And to support education and community outreach to appreciate and support effective conservation of prairie ecosystems through responsible ranching.
Round River Resource Management was founded on the principles of conservation, based upon the writings of Aldo Leopold and the teachings of Allan Savory and Stan Parsons. By working upon the four fundamental ecosystem processes: mineral cycle, energy flow, water cycle and community dynamics, Round River strives to improve the resource base and bring ecological and economic sustainability to the ranching industry.
In addition, Round River utilizes wildlife friendly, single wire permanent and temporary electric fencing to control grazing, protect sensitive areas, and length of grazing in critical locations to protect animal habitats and bird nesting sites. Calving seasons have been adjusted to occur in harmony with nature and provide a predator friendly environment. Water systems have been developed to improve grazing distribution and grazing in riparian areas is limited to days, if not hours, resulting in protection of stream banks, widening of the stream channel, increased plant biodiversity, and increased capture of sediment.
The Lyme BX Ranch is a 25,000-acre ranch managed by Round River for Lyme Timber Company, a private conservation investment company. We collaborate with Lyme Timber, The Savory Institute and The Nature Conservancy in an attempt to improve the natural resource base and develop a replicable ranch management model centered on a holistic decision making approach.
During the past seven years of operations at the Brett Gray Ranch, Round River has demonstrated its commitment to these principles by implementing a planned rotational grazing system that is designed to limit the duration of the grazing process and provide adequate recovery for the grazed plants. This grazing system helps to improve the four ecosystem processes by adding more organic matter to the soil, building a stronger root system, providing better water capture and infiltration, stronger, more vigorous plants that capture more energy from the sun, increases the biodiversity of the plant and animal community and helps to protect sensitive riparian areas from degradation and erosion.
These improvements have been achieved during some of the most severe drought conditions on record and have been documented through an intensive monitoring process conducted by Round River, the State Land Board and The Nature Conservancy.
Round River assumed management of the Lyme BX Ranch in December of 2014 and is collaborating with the landowner, The Nature Conservancy, the Savory Institute and the Palmer Land Trust to develop and implement a management plan designed to improve the ecosystem processes, protect the resources, and achieve the economic and ecological outcomes desired by its partners. To accomplish these goals, we implemented a dormant season rotational grazing system, and have initiated an infrastructure development plan designed to improve operations. The first phase has begun with a water development plan designed to provide adequate storage and supply the water required for a large herd in a rotational grazing system. The next step will include a fencing plan that will allow for increased stock density and herd effect, shorter grazing periods and improved recovery periods further enhancing the four ecosystem processes.
Philosophy: The rising age of our current farmers and ranchers, the steady increase in the world population, global warming and the continuous degradation of our natural resources is alarming. The average age of farmers in the USA is 58.3 years, and with less than a 1/2% of the US population involved in agriculture, it is urgent and critically important that we provide a new generation of young, innovative group of professionals with the skills and knowledge necessary to successfully operate an economically and ecologically sustainable agricultural industry.
To support sustainable agriculture, there must be opportunities for a new generation of producers to learn and grow, much like Aldo Leopold’s Round River and its continuous flow of life. With high startup cost and the limited opportunities to learn these skills, Round River developed an intern/apprenticeship program designed to introduce and teach the skills necessary to operate a sustainable ranching operation and to provide opportunities to become engaged with sustainable agriculture.
Louis currently serves as the CEO and general manager for Round River and oversees management of the Brett Gray and Lyme BX Ranches, working in collaboration with the Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners (SLB), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and others to achieve the desired goals of all stakeholders. In addition, Louis developed and oversees the intern/apprenticeship program for Round River, preparing and training young professionals for land and livestock management.
He has been involved in the livestock and ranching business for over forty years, and has served sixteen years as general manager for the Texas A&M University Beef Cattle Center in College Station, Texas, where he oversaw all cattle operations and facilitated the teaching, research and extension activities at the Center. In addition, he has been involved in Holistic ManagementTM for over thirty years, consulted for numerous ranches and managed large ranches in Texas, northeastern Utah and Colorado before coming to the Brett Gray Ranch.
Louis received a BS and Master’s degree in Animal Science and Ranch Management at Texas A&M University, has trained with several certified HRM instructors and is an alumni of Ranching for Profit and currently continues his education as an Executive Link board member and participates in numerous education opportunities annually.
Cathy Martin was born in Massachusetts and grew up in Ohio around the horse industry. After attending The Columbus College of Art and Design, she worked as a graphic designer, illustrator and art teacher. In 1990, she moved to Texas to become a partner and close confidant with Louis and now works as a professional artist, horsewoman, and works alongside Louis as a partner, mentor, advisor, and the communications director for Round River.
Since its beginning in 2008, Round River has worked to utilize regenerative management practices to improve and restore the land resource base through proper grazing management and a holistic and adaptive decision making process that promotes economic and ecological sustainability. In addition, providing opportunities to develop an appreciation for conservation and to teach land and livestock management skills associated with sustainable ranching have always been an important aspect of the Round River mission. Round River has developed an intensive intern/apprenticeship program on the Brett Gray Ranch to develop these skills.
The successful candidate will have the opportunity to learn and participate in all aspects of ranch operations and enterprise development, and will develop an appreciation for conservation and sustainable ranch management practices.
Hands on learning opportunities will include, but are not limited to:
Grazing planning and management
General maintenance of equipment and facilities
Livestock handling, and health management
Enterprise budgeting, planning and development
Animal nutrition and reproduction
The apprentice/intern will work closely with Louis, Cathy, or John on a daily basis to refine skills and perform a variety of ranch and land improvement tasks including: daily livestock care (health monitoring, supplementation and pasture movements); building and maintaining ranch infrastructure and equipment (fences, water pipelines, buildings and vehicles); land and range monitoring, grazing planning and management; low-stress stockmanship, and financial analysis and decision making.
The apprenticeship is a physically, emotionally and intellectually challenging experience. Enthusiasm, a strong desire to learn and a sincere commitment to conservation, sustainable agriculture and food production are important.
As an apprentice you will be expected to:
- Work outside much of the time, often engaged in repetitive and extremely physical activities.
- Live in rural area, near a small town with few amenities and a 60 mile drive to purchase groceries.
- Live in close proximity to your mentors and respect their homes and property.
- Work closely with a small team on a daily basis.
- Work closely with mentors, adding independent task as skills and ability allow.
- Maintain high work quality standards.
- Respect and properly maintain equipment.
>li>Be observant and communicate effectively.
Stipend: Round River typically provides a $700.00/month stipend to apprentices. This is paid bi-weekly and direct deposited to your bank. The stipend may or may not cover monthly expenses for the apprentice/intern based on his/her needs and lifestyle. The position does not allow time for a second job, so the apprentice should consider their budgetary needs before applying to this position.
Housing: Round River provides a furnished 2-bedroom, 1 1/2-bath house with living room and functional kitchen located on the Brett Gray Ranch. Utilities: water, gas, electricity, phone & internet are provided. Housing may be shared with 1-2 others enrolled in our apprenticeship. It is expected that the house and personal spaces will be maintained in an orderly manner and efforts made to conserve energy and minimize waste. Pets, spouses, significant others, and/or children cannot be accommodated on the ranch.
Time Off: The apprentice will receive every other weekend (Saturday/Sunday) off and will be required to be on duty to check livestock and be available to handle emergencies on their weekends on duty. If an apprentice needs additional days for specific activities, he or she should let the mentors know as soon as possible. Be aware that the ranch and the herd dictate workflow over the course of the apprenticeship.
Food: Apprentices are responsible for their own food budget. Round River will provide a $100 cash per month grocery allowance, ranch-raised beef and fresh eggs. Additionally, apprentices/interns are expected to assist with the ranch garden and will have access to garden produce grown on the ranch.
Quivira Coalition Activities: The apprentice is required to attend the annual Quivira Coalition conference, held each November in Albuquerque, NM; conference and hotel fees are covered by the Quivira Coalition. In addition to the conference, the apprentice will participate in an Holistic Management International webinar series geared Whole Farm/Ranch Planning Series. Apprentices are also required to write several reports during their apprenticeship; these reports will go through the NAP Coordinator at Quivira, and be posted on the Quivira website.
NO Smoking or Drugs: No smoking or drugs on ranch, range, vehicles, housing – the ranch is a completely non-smoking, no-drug environment.
NO Partying: No partying. Having a beer/glass of wine or two after work is just fine.
Health Insurance: The ranching lifestyle has inherent dangers. While personal health insurance is not required to participate in the apprenticeship program, it is strongly encouraged. The ranch carries Workman’s Compensation to cover injuries incurred on the job. But if the apprentice is injured on his or her day off, gets sick, or has or develops chronic conditions like allergies, these types of issues should be covered by personal health insurance.
Ranch Vehicles: Some l of the ranch vehicles have standard transmissions. Apprentices will need to know how to drive stick-shift. Previous experience with backing up trailers is not required, but greatly appreciated.
Personal Vehicle: While there are no instances (or very few) when an apprentice would be asked to use a personal vehicle around the ranch, the apprentice will need the flexibility of his or her own vehicle in order to run personal errands such as purchasing groceries and travel on days off.
Living at the Brett Gray Ranch: The Brett Gray Ranch is located 60 miles from Colorado Springs, Colorado to the east and 50 miles to the south of Limon, Colorado The climate is arid, with summer highs of ninety degrees and cool nights. It is a vast and open landscape and is sparsely populated with an economy focused on agriculture.
Applications for 2018 NAP apprenticeships will be posted online in October.
Agriculture has been, and continues to be, a strong presence throughout my life. I grew up helping my grandparents work a large garden and feed the chickens and goats on our small farm in Eva, Alabama. As often as possible, I visited my uncle and cousin at their equestrian farm near by which fueled my love of horseback riding. Growing up around these animals forced me to develop a sense of understanding and a large heart filled with plenty of patience and caring. This lifestyle was very attractive to me, and while living in Eva, I told my mother that one day I would go to Auburn University and that I was going to be a veterinarian.
My freshman year was completed at a Calhoun Community College while working at a small animal veterinary clinic in Huntsville, Alabama. After working for a few years, I came to the realization that I was not going to be a small animal veterinarian. Every day was the same thing; I quickly grew bored of the monotony and made the decision to become a large animal vet. In the fall of 2013 I finally arrived at Auburn where I quickly discovered that I had a passion for ranching that far exceeded my drive to pursue veterinary school.
In 2014, I attended the spring break trip with the Animal Science department to Texas where I first discovered an interest in beef cattle production coupled with animal breeding. This trip showed me a side of the industry and a side of myself that I did not know, and thus I began the search to pursue a ranching career. Within my first year at Auburn I made the hardest decision of my college career to switch from Animal Science, Pre-Veterinary Medicine to Animal Science, Production/Management.
Before I knew it, in the summer of 2015, I had an internship at a small backgrounding yard for Clay Kennamer Livestock in Scottsboro, Alabama where I got my first real taste of working cattle. Though it was a very strong learning experience, I quickly came to the realization that I did not have a passion for the feeding aspect of the cattle industry. Looking to venture down other avenues of the industry, in the spring of 2016 I accepted a longer internship in St. Cloud, Florida at Deseret Cattle and Citrus. It was here where I found my love for animal breeding after assisting with a very large ET and AI project with their purebred herds.
Reluctantly, I left this beautiful ranch and pursued another internship immediately following Deseret at a small farm called Two Less Farms in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. While here, I learned a lot about grass finished beef, intense rotational grazing, and pasture maintenance among other things. Finally, I returned to Auburn and finished my Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science, Production/Management in December of 2016. Now, I have accepted an assistantship at Round River Resource Management in Rush, Colorado under the management of Louis Martin.
For the assistantship, I’m hoping to not only build experience handling cattle, but to build a better working knowledge of management practices and how to run a successful business. Animal breeding and grazing plans are my biggest interests, both of which I know I will learn a lot about in the years to come here at Round River. Having never even visited this area of the United States, I’m very excited to see the different management techniques and challenges this side of the country has. I love all aspects of ranching and farming and am excited to learn anything and everything that I possibly can in order to prepare myself for a successful future in the agriculture industry.
Following my assistantship at Round River Ranches, I plan to pursue a Master’s degree in Ranch Management. Managing a large ranch and beginning a very intensive breeding program is my goal, and I know the higher education will provide me with the knowledge to achieve these goals. I am truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to expand my knowledge beyond the classroom and to work with such a wonderful holistic management team. These next few years will challenge me in ways I cannot predict, but I know that with each challenge an opportunity to excel is presented and I look forward to meeting each challenge with every intent to succeed!
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