CHADRON – Seven Kenyan members of the National Organizing Committee for the Joint 24th International Grassland Congress and 11th International Rangeland Congress scheduled in Nairobi this fall visited Chadron State College in February, as guests of Dr. Jim O’Rourke, Chadron State College Professor Emeritus. He has been working with the Kenyan NOC for four years.
They were in the region with a dual mission: to promote the late October event in Nairobi at the Society of Range Management (SRM) international meeting in Denver, and to learn about range practices in the western U.S.
O’Rourke planned a tour of the Sandhills and hosted the committee comprised of officials from several different organizations including the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation, the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization, the University of Nairobi, the International Grassland Congress, and the International Rangeland Congress.
In the early 1970s, O’Rourke lived in Tanzania, one of the tour sites during the Joint Congress. He has served as the Secretariat for International Rangeland Congress since 2011, wrote the original Congress Planning Guidelines, and makes the initial visit to each country who hosts a Joint International Grassland Congress/International Rangeland Congress to familiarize them with the process.
After leaving Denver following the SRM meetings, O’Rourke and Dr. Ron Bolze accompanied the entourage to conservation offices in Ogallala, Sidney, and tours of private livestock operations near Hyannis, Arthur, Whitman, and Gordon. The group stayed in Chadron Feb. 22, met with CSC faculty and administrators and toured the Rangeland Complex the following day. After Chadron, the National Organizing Committee met with Wyoming livestock producers and conservation officials in Cheyenne before departing for Kenya Feb. 25.
Harry Kimtai, Principal Secretary for Livestock in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation and Chairman of the National Organizing Committee, said the Joint Congress will be a significant event for sharing scientific and technical information.
He was impressed with the way conservation officials, government researchers, and livestock producers work together.
“There are many correlations and many common issues because 80 percent of the Savanah grasslands in Kenya are arid and semi-arid. When conservation of wildlife and rangelands is integrated, it benefits both. We are going to use some of the practices we’ve learned for posterity and to sustain human life,” Kimtai said.
—Tena L. Cook Interim Marketing Coordinator