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A working ranch for public education

The Hudson Ranch L.L.C. – a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization – is run by the Colorado 4-H Youth Fund, the Pueblo County 4-H Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Educational and Charitable Foundation.

Progress has been slow but steady towards a practical but difficult goal: To operate a sustainable working ranch for the purpose of educating the public about agriculture and the environment. The difficulty comes in being able to do both at the same time with extremely limited startup funds.

The ranch is a small-scale cow/calf operation comprised of 1,900 acres located West of Pueblo, Colorado, in the Wet Mountain Valley. The upper ranch is 600 acres of pasture, which includes a scenic, if in fact, spiritual gorge.

The 1,300-acre lower ranch looks out over the eastern plains. ‘Lower’ is a bit of a misnomer, as the lower ranch is high enough for a panoramic view of the plains. At sunset, the city lights of Pueblo sparkle with the stars. Not to be outdone, Pikes Peak looks over the ranch from the north and the Rockies defend the west.

It is easy to envision the fully-realized goal where people on loan from the city contemplate life while sitting at the edge of the gorge listening to the water running in the brook below after a hard day’s work branding cattle or riding fence. It’s harder to come up with the funds to get the program going.

Frank Sobolik, the Colorado State University County Extension Agent, who has been involved with the project from the beginning and maintains an advisory role, is one of many working hard to secure funding. He envisions a conference center at the home site. The location and views are prime for such a project.

Jan Kochis, a Rocky Mountain Farmers Union board member as well as a member of the Hudson Ranch board, sees the major stumbling block of the ranch to be the ability to raise funds and provide facilities fast enough to offer the many types of programs and activities that could be held on the property.

“I hope that in the next ten years the Hudson Ranch is well-known across the Rocky Mountain region for offering a variety of programs for people of all ages about rural living, agriculture, and our environment,” Kochis said. “I also hope there will be some on-site buildings to house the various activities.”

To date, the El Pueblo Boys and Girls Ranch have utilized the program, assisting with ranch clean-up, fence building and camping at the edge of the gorge on the upper ranch. The 4-H has also been involved in various projects from chopping wood to nature hikes. A therapeutic riding program is expected to be an integral part of the activities offered.

For more information on how you can become involved with the development of the Hudson Ranch L.L.C., either financially or hands-on, call Marvin Hamann, D.V.M. (719) 542-6075.