Story and photos by: Beth Ann Luedeker
Contact: Dr. Larry Redmon - [email protected]

The 5th annual conference was held at the YO Ranch Hotel and Conference Center in Kerrville April 26-27 with more than 70 landowners and prospective land owners in attendance. This was the largest attendance at the conference since its inception, and many of those in attendance had attended at least previous conference.

man talking to group of people in a conference room
Dr. Bob Lyons explains grazing behavior at the 5th Annual Land Stewardship Conference sponsored by the Bennett Trust and Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.

“We have a people from different parts of the state, some with small land holdings and some with large acreages,” said program founder Dr. Larry Redmon, Associate Department Head - Texas A&M University Department of Soil and Crop Sciences and the Bennett Trust Extension Specialist. “Everybody wants to be a good steward of their piece of Texas, so that is what these programs are designed to do.”

woman standing in front of conference room with presentation slide on big screen
AgriLife Extension Specialist Dr. Megan Clayton discussed herbicide control options and setting goals for your land.

The conference is the result of an endowment Eskel and Ruth Bennett made to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension to support stewardship education efforts in the Edwards Plateau region.
Conference organizers bring in new speakers and present new information each year, touching on a wide range of stewardship topics.

This year those topics included prescribed burning, herbicide control options, fence laws, and leasing land for hunting. The group also got to see a rainwater runoff demonstration, prescribed burn equipment and brush management equipment.

woman in front of group with drip torch and backpack sprayer
Dr. Morgan Russell, AgriLife Extension Specialist from San Angelo, discussed using prescribed burns in land management and displayed many of the tools used.

“We have a great group of speakers, and folks come from all over, with different uses for their land and different goals,” said Extension Program Specialist Matt Brown, who has been assisting with the conference for several years. “The practices discussed here, although we are focused on the Edward’s Plateau, can be implemented across the state so it is something they can take back home, no matter where that might be, and use on their property.”

Matt Brown with a rainwater runoff simulator
Matt Brown, Extension Program Specialist in College Station, presented a rainwater runoff demonstration during the conference explaining that with excessive runoff, you not only lose water, but soil and nutrients as well.
farmer standing in front of herd of sheep
Robin Giles, owner of the historic Hillingdon Ranch, explains his sheep breeding program and management during the tour of his ranch on the second day of the conference. Participants were able to choose this tour or a tour of the Flagler Wildlife Ranch.

Participants attend the conference for a variety of reasons, but all truly care about their land and want to preserve it for future generations.

“We had a ranch in eastern Colorado, and recently moved down to Harper (Texas),” said Randy Rester, a participant in the recent conferenct. “We knew how to farm and ranch in Colorado, but Texas is totally different in what you can plant and when, the type of things we may need to control, and how to be good stewards of the land. That is why we are at the program. We are hoping to get an education on how we should be taking care of the land down here.”