Event: Young Producers Ranching for Profit

Join the Sandhills Task Force for a Ranching For Profit- Young Adult School July 11-15, 2022 at the Niobrara Valley Preserve in Johnstown NE.  The school will focus on setting the next generation up for success using RMC®’s time-proven methods tailored for 18-25-year-old current or prospective land managers, who are interested in developing the necessary business management and leadership skills to succeed in ranch management.  Participants will build peer-to-peer relationships, learn from an experienced instructor, interact with mentors, and visit innovative ranches.  This experience will take you to the next level in business and land management.

Draft Agenda

  • Monday, July 11 – Arrive for evening meal and “get to know you” social
  • Tuesday, July 12 – ½ day classroom and ½ day ranch visit
  • Wednesday, July 13 – ½ day classroom and ½ day ranch visit
  • Thursday, July 14 – ½ day classroom and ½ day ranch visit
  • Friday, July 15 – ½ day wrap up and depart

Location Driving Directions

Address: Niobrara Valley Preserve, 42269 Morel Road, Johnstown, NE 69214

  • From Valentine: 29 Miles East on HWY 12; 8 Miles South on Norden Road
  • From Ainsworth: 9.5 miles West on HWY 20; 16 miles North on Norden Road

Instructor Biography – John Locke, Ranch Management Consultants Instructor

A six generation member of the JD Hudgins Inc Ranching operation on the Texas Gulf Coast, you might say John Locke has taken a conventional path into unconventional agricultural practices.  Growing up on a Registered Brahman seedstock operation that is known for sharing genetics across the southern United States and around the World, everything appeared to be on a path of “business as usual” after returning home upon graduating from Texas Tech in 2001, until a 200-year drought and a major family succession event forever changed the way Locke looked at the family business. 

Somewhat starting over with less than half of your cow herd on ¼ of the land mass while still having most of the same expenses the previous business was responsible for, has a way of bringing about inevitable change and can be a blessing in disguise that almost makes it impossible to “do things the way we have always done them”.  Somewhere along the way Locke met Dave Pratt and attended the Ranching for Profit School and joined Executive Link, deepening the look into the business and ultimately life.

On the surface, much of the 6 decades-old core business of Locke Division of JD Hudgins still looks the same, but with a deeper look, the changes have been many over the past 10 years.  While embracing innovation in adopting practices such as ultra-high density grazing, the main focus has been on learning and applying principles.  Making sure one is doing the right things before obsessing over doing things right.  Identifying and focusing on a clear business purpose that aligns with the person.  Learning how to see the economic picture of the business and using that lens to build resilience.  Understanding the whole and striving to balance ecological improvement, livestock performance, profit, and human resources in a way that focuses on quality of life for all involved.  In short, putting fun and financial reward into ranching while working to build a legacy that has a lasting impact that is independent of the physical assets the business will leave behind is the Locke family priority. 

Working side by side with his father Coleman in the day-to-day management of their division, Locke also has been blessed to have been selected and trained as the 6th person to be an Instructor of the Ranching for Profit School. When he’s not too busy with the ranch or family commitments due to the activities of his three beautiful daughters Lauryn, Lyndsey, Lylee, and wife Salina, John teaches several of the week-long RFP schools a year, helps to facilitate Executive Link meetings, and serves consulting clients across the US.

How We Can Help You

The Sandhills Task Force provides technical and financial assistance to help you meet your conservation goals. Types of conservation projects include Eastern red cedar control, grazing system improvement, stream and wetland restoration, and lake renovation.

Eastern Red Cedar Control

Eastern red cedars have become problematic within the Sandhills and elsewhere in Nebraska by encroaching on native grasslands and reducing the quality and quantity of habitat for grassland-dependent wildlife and grazing livestock. The Sandhills Task Force can help you decide the best course of action to control the invasion and provide support through the entire process. Funds are available for prescribed burns and mechanical control. “Be a Leader, Kill Your Cedar!”

Grazing System Improvement

Do you have questions about your grazing system? We’d love to visit with you about them and share our experiences. If you want to change your system to benefit wildlife, birds, ecosystem health, and your bottom line, we have funds available to help with the needed infrastructure.

Stream and Wetland Restoration

The Sandhills are home to over a million acres of wetlands, and many have been manipulated in ways that have caused degradation over time. For example, wet meadows and streams were ditched, straightening the channel to facilitate water movement and seasonal haying and grazing. Over time, these ditches and streams become more incised, further lowering the water table within the meadow. As a result, these meadows have degraded due to the altered hydrology and are less productive habitats for wildlife and livestock grazing or haying. We want to help you restore the hydrology and enable them to function better. We have some funds to do this work, and we’re happy to raise more if you have a big project.

Lake Renovation

Many Sandhill lakes are suffering from an invasion of common carp. Carp muddy the water, making it so desirable fish cannot survive. The muddy water also deters waterfowl and beneficial wetland plants. This negative effect of carp invasion in Sandhills lakes and wetlands has been well observed and documented for several years. Chemical rehabilitation of lakes and wetlands has occurred since the 1970s to eradicate carp from otherwise productive wetland ecosystems. We can help remove the carp and install structures to prevent re-infestation. The changes are fast and almost unbelievable!

Who to Contact:

For information on our cost-share and easement programs or for technical assistance, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Sandhills Task Force Project Coordinator, Ashley Garrelts, at ashley@sandhillstaskforce.org, or 307-351-0935.