The Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative will host its fifth national conference in Orlando, Fla., from Dec. 9 to 12 at the Caribe Royale Hotel and Convention Center. GLCI conference organizers expect over 1,000 ranchers, professors, land managers, researchers, public officials, ecologists and students to participate in the exchange of information on cutting-edge grazing management technologies.
"The nation's grazing lands perform a number of functions," says Bob Drake, GLCI chairman. "Grazing lands provide homes for livestock and wildlife, sponges for rainfall, carbon reservoirs, hiking and bird-watching meccas, hunting and fishing grounds, and much, much more. Sustainably managing all of these roles across 600 million acres of grazing lands in this nation is a huge balancing act and it's also the topic of our conference," he summarizes.
Additionally, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, approximately 85 percent of all land in the U.S. is not suitable for agricultural crops. Grazing livestock allows ranchers to use this land to provide food for Americans.
This year, Temple Grandin, noted animal behavior expert, author, speaker and professor will be one of a number of featured presenters. Grandin will conduct a book signing at the conference.
Dec. 10 will culminate with a special "Florida Night" dinner banquet featuring Florida cowboy poet Stephen Monroe.
The conference will continue its past format of providing information along four tracks that will include Eastern, Central, Western and dairy grazing issues. Some of the issues to be highlighted include the value of rotational grazing and of riparian habitat, carbon sequestration, and the flexibility within grazing systems.
The Florida Grazing Lands Coalition, a division of GLCI, will provide a half-day workshop following the conference with Fred Provenza, Utah State University professor, award-winning research scientist and rancher.
One thing that sets GLCI apart from other conferences is its focus on ranchers as presenters. "We know experts come from academia, government, and the non-profit world and we welcome them all, but we also look for the "cowboy expert" who has gained his--or her--expertise through long hours with livestock and first-hand exposure to all sorts of elements--natural, economic and political," says Drake.
Information on registration, exhibitor and sponsorship opportunities is at the 5NCGL website. Full conference registration is $365; student and one-day registrations are also available.
The GLCI was founded in 1991 to provide high-quality technical assistance on grazing lands on a voluntary basis and to increase the awareness of the importance of grazing land resources.