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Holt to Compete at National Competition

Zora Holt, 15, of Hinsdale High School, is preparing for the 75th annual Society for Range Management (SRM) High School Youth Forum (HSYF), where she will compete against teens from across the nation.

The youth activity is held jointly during the 75th Annual SRM annual meeting, which takes place this year in Albuquerque, New Mexico from Feb. 6 through Feb. 10. This year's meeting theme is "Sustainability through Culture and Innovation."

High School delegates to HSYF are chosen by each of the 22 individual sections of the parent society throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, based on their high degree of interest in the range and natural resources field as well as on their exemplary dedication and effort to learn more about this particular area. While at HSYF, participants will have the opportunity to meet people from many countries and get a firsthand view of what SRM is all about including its organization, goals and the role it plays on a world-wide basis.

As one of the more important activities, each delegate to the Forum competes in a paper presentation competition with the content covering a range-related topic. All presentations will be judged by a diverse panel of judges, with the top five papers being recognized at the SRM awards ceremony. The top paper winner is invited to return to next year's meeting to help with the Forum and present their paper to the general membership of the Society.

In addition, other activities will include a local ecological field tour of the meeting site and a program to enhance communication skills.

Since the number of delegates that can attend each year is limited, selection for this activity is considered a high honor for those students selected.

"I will give a talk about my cow," Holt told The Courier over the phone last week. "Her name is Bonnie. I think she is six. I was her very first friend. She was born in March, one of the very first little cows born. She is our former milk cow's calf, so she is a quarter Swiss and three quarters Black Angus. I went down and there was little baby Bonnie in the cold and I talked to her and said 'hi.' She was just a sweet little cow."

Holt shares a special bond with Bonnie.

"She is a milk cow, and anyone who has ever had a milk cow will know you are kind of a servant of the cow, to some degree. The cow gives you milk in reward for caring for it properly. Milk cows are a little more in charge than a range cow would be. They know the hierarchy. That is what the human is for, to care for the cow. Bonnie believes if you have fingers, those are for scratching the cow. She is perfectly willing to go to the fair and be led around and all kinds of fun stuff."

To be sure, the cow is pretty much the boss, Holt said.

"It is alike a business partnership, but she is a little higher in the command chain. You kind of need to have a milk cow to understand it."

To prepare for the HSYF, Holt said she is "turning my illustrated talk into a manuscript, which is somewhat of an ordeal. It is a little tricky because it doesn't need pictures anymore. Then, I just have to make sure I have the talk memorized and can give it again decently well."

Holt previoulsy gave her illustrated talk last June during Range Days in Dillon.

The SRM is an international organization that strives to promote public awareness of the importance of sound management and use of rangeland, the world's largest land base. In 1966 the SRM recognized a need to involve youth with the range-related activities and education provided at this annual meeting.

Since that time, the HSYF has been a highlight of the SRM annual meetings. Volunteers of the SRM Student Activities Committee conduct the program.

The goals of the HSYF are to provide insight for students concerning the function and working of a professional society; opportunities to meet Society members; access to a format that encourages thinking and enhancement of communicative skills; opportunities to to learn about range and natural resource management and future careers through interaction with Society professionals; lessons about the ecology and natural resources of the Annual Meeting site; and an atmosphere that fosters camaraderie and lasting friendships.


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