Turner Institute of Ecoagriculture to collaborate with South Dakota State University Center of Excellence for Bison Studies

Pierre, SD / DRG News
Jody Heemstra
Jul 2, 2021

Turner Enterprises, Inc. and Turner Ranches announced today the launch of the Turner Institute of Ecoagriculture, Inc. (“Institute”). The Institute is a 501(c)(3) public charity and agricultural research organization formed by Ted Turner, whose history of sustainable ranching and animal production, natural resource conservation, and imperiled species restoration spans over three decades.

Turner currently owns 14 ranches in the U.S. (and a herd of approximately 45,000 American plains bison) that practice ranching in an economically sustainable and ecologically sensitive manner while promoting the conservation of native species and habitats.

The Institute’s mission is to research, develop, practice, and disseminate sustainable strategies and techniques for conserving ecosystems, agriculture, and rural communities.

The Institute’s mission is to research, develop, practice, and disseminate sustainable strategies and techniques for conserving ecosystems, agriculture, and rural communities.

“Our company’s passion for the environment, conservation and sustainable practices continues to drive our mission of innovatively managing our lands to unite economic viability with ecological sustainability,” said Ted Turner.

Five Turner ranches are in the Sandhills region of western Nebraska, encompassing approximately 445,000 acres of North American Great Plains mixed grass prairie. Turner is contributing the McGinley Ranch, located in the northern Sandhills region, and all its operations to the Institute. McGinley Ranch straddles the border between Nebraska and South Dakota and is comprised of 79,292 contiguous acres of native rangeland. It is contemplated that the remaining four ranches in the Sandhills area (collectively, the “Sandhills Ranches”) may be transferred to the Institute in the future.

The Turner Institute of Ecoagriculture, an agricultural research organization, is a Nebraska nonprofit corporation operated exclusively for charitable, scientific, and educational purposes, within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Turner Ranches continues to be involved in diverse areas of research concerning animal and environmental sciences. Bison production, finishing, welfare, physiology, and ecology have been areas of research interest. Our research has also focused on issues in restoration ecology and imperiled species conservation. Wildlife and bison diseases have been investigated, as has climate change, ecosystem services, and landscape ecology. With the creation of the Turner Institute of Ecoagriculture, the tradition of research in these areas will continue and thrive with the Institute’s focus on complex ecoagriculture issues.

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

Throlson American Bison Foundation Scholarship Now Accepting 2021 Applications

Westminster, CO (July 1, 2021) -The National Bison Association (NBA) has announced the 2021 Throlson American Bison Foundation Scholarship amid continued growth in consumer demand for healthy, natural bison meat.

The Throlson American Bison Foundation is named after its founder, Dr. Ken Throlson, DVM, a pioneer of the modern bison business and awards outstanding college students with an interest in the burgeoning bison industry.

“The Throlson American Bison Foundation Scholarship program has been established to recognize, encourage and promote leadership among future bison industry professionals,” said Jim Matheson, assistant director of the NBA.

In November 2021, the Throlson American Bison Foundation will award scholarships totaling, but not limited to, $10,000 to outstanding college junior, senior or graduate students studying fields related to the bison industry.

A minimum of $2,000 of the $10,000 amount will be awarded in the memory of Richard Zahringer to a student pursuing a degree in agriculture economics, agribusiness, or accounting. Ideally this student will have future interest in livestock and specifically bison.

The online scholarship application is available online here and must be submitted by October 1, 2021, which also requires this form to be completed by the student’s department head, as well as a letter of recommendation from faculty. Award announcements will be made no later than November 5th. For more information, contact the NBA office at (303) 292-2833, or jim@bisoncentral.com.

The NBA also has a Youth membership for individuals ages 21 and younger that are interested in learning more about the bison business. NBA Youth Members can access educational resources on the website, receive discounted conference rates, consign animals to the Gold Trophy Show & Sale held in Denver in conjunction with the National Western Stock Show, and receive a e-subscription to Bison World and the NBA newsletter, the Weekly Update, among other benefits. The Youth Membership is $75 annually.

For more information: Jim Matheson, Assistant Director, National Bison Association.
jim@bisoncentral.com Tel 303-292-2833

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

Center of Excellence awards Bison Research Projects

June 3, 2021

RAPID CITY, S.D. – A new era in bison research formally began this week as the recently established Center of Excellence for Bison Studies funded eight projects to study topics ranging from ecosystem impact to meat quality.

The Center awarded more than $300,000 in funding to support the first year of each project, some of which may extend for up to three years.

“The projects authorized this week will contribute extensively to the pool of knowledge in a variety of areas regarding bison production, herd health, ecosystem management, cultural impacts, and meat quality,” said Dr. Kristi Cammack, executive director of the South Dakota State University Center of Excellence for Bison Studies.

The center’s board of directors began this year’s funding process by reviewing 32 letters of intent submitted by applicants from across the United States and Canada. Of those applicants, 16 were invited to submit formal research proposals.

The National Bison Association’s Science and Research Committee formally reviewed the proposals and identified the top applications for funding. The funding for the proposals was provided by the National Buffalo Foundation, which is engaged in a major fundraising effort to support the center’s work.

“One of the overriding priorities for the center is to fund proposals that meet the needs of the bison industry,” said Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association. “The newly-authorized projects will benefit not only North American bison ranchers, but tribal producers and public herd managers as well.”

The Center of Excellence was chartered last September through a cooperative effort among South Dakota State University, the National Bison Association, and the National Buffalo Foundation.

Projects authorized by the Center of Excellence include:

  • A baseline inventory assessment of biological and cultural impacts of buffalo restoration in Indian country (InterTribal Buffalo Council)
  • An integrated approach to assess parasite burden and anthelmintic treatment success in North American bison (Kansas State University)
  • Benchmarking live animal and carcass quality outcomes at slaughter to identify factors impacting bison carcass value (Colorado State University)
  • Bison on the move: How translocations affect bison production and disease prevalence across space, time, and organization (South Dakota State University)
  • Characterization of bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) in bison (South Dakota State University)
  • Comparison of ground nesting bee (Apoidea) abundance and diversity between bison wallows and adjacent prairie (USDA – Agricultural Research Service)
  • Habitat use and avoidance in a large, patchy landscape by American plains bison: Implications for management and conservation of the species (University of Nebraska – Kearney)
  • Investigating the ruminal metagenome of grass fed bison to uncover metabolic activities that impact the efficiency of forage utilization (South Dakota State University)

Projects are expected to begin July 1st

Dave Carter, Executive Director

National Bison Association

303-594-4420

dcarter@bisoncentral.com

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

5M Donation made for new Custer State Park Bison Center

5M Donation made for new Custer State Park Bison Center

Over the decades, the Custer State Park roundup and auction grew in popularity, becoming the spectacle it is today. About 20,000 people show up every September to watch horseback riders herd bison into corrals. Credit Matt Gade.

A charitable organization—the Helmsley Charitable Trust—is giving $4 million to the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation to build a new Bison Center at Custer State Park.

The park will use the money to build the new center near the existing buffalo corrals. The center will educate visitors about the park’s bison herd, which numbers nearly 1,300.

Actually, the first additional $100,000 has already been pledged by Walter Panzirer, of Pierre. He’s one of the trustees of the Helmsley Charitable Trust. He’s also a grandson of the late Leona Helmsley, one of the trust’s namesakes.

“At the Helmsley Charitable Trust, we’re into rural healthcare,” Panzirer said. “That’s what we do for the seven upper Midwest states. And this, in my mind, ties to health. This encourages people to get out into the open—to get into the outdoors, enjoy the parks, be more physically active and be out here loving nature.”

Panzier told planners this will be a huge upgrade, “Picnic facilities and an interpretive center to tell the true story of the buffalo here. To tell why we are vaccinating buffalo, why the park manages the herds to such pristine levels as they do now. And really lay out the history that this was one of the five genetic lines that saved the buffalo in the United States.”  

“We are excited to lead the funding effort to make the Custer State Park Bison Center possible,” said Walter Panzirer. “To help ensure the park’s educational opportunities reflect the grandeur of the park, Helmsley has made significant investments, providing funding for the Custer State Park Visitor Center and the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center.”

The history of buffalo in the park began in 1914, when South Dakota bought 36 bison from Fort Pierre rancher Scotty Philip.   

The park conducted roundups every few years in those early days to manage the herd’s size, and butchered the excess bison. Annual roundups began in the 1960s, and park officials started auctioning the surplus animals instead of sending them to slaughter. 

The $5 Million Bison Center in Custer State Park Galloping Toward Ground-Breaking

From the Grand Forks Herald, Apr 12, 2021

PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota’s legislature chipped in $500,000 during the recently completed legislative session for a bison interpretive center in Custer State Park, and state officials say plans for the structure are moving along briskly.

“Next week, we’ll get our first look at an interpretive design,” said Matthew Synder, Superintendent of CSP, speaking before the Game, Fish and Parks Commission’s regular meeting that convened last week. “Things are tracking really well.”

Snyder said he hopes to be “breaking ground” in June.

The bison center sprung from the mind of Helmsley Charitable Trust trustee Waltzer Panzirer, who worked on a Boy Scouts project in the park with his son, say park officials.

The trust donated $4 million, with Panzirer giving $100,000 of his own money to fuel the $500,000 in private donations needed. The legislature also authorized spending $500,000 on the project.

One question raised by Senate Minority Leader Troy Heinert, a Democrat and enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, during the debate on the legislature’s portion is whether or not the center would be “telling the correct story” of the bison.

During committee questioning, the state director of parks and recreation, Scott Simpson, assured Heinert the park had “learned our lesson” and would “provide input sessions” to hear from the public.”

Park officials plan to open the Bison Center by the spring of 2022.

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

Rare White Buffalo Donated to Turtle Mountain Chippewa

Rare White Buffalo Donated to Turtle Mountain Chippewa

Ernie and Beverly Fischer purchased a white buffalo from the Wahpeton Zoo for their Bar 33 Bison Ranch near Selfridge, North Dakota.

Then they changed their minds. They knew the Turtle Mountain Chippewa tribe had been struggling to bring their community back together from severe effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The gift of a white buffalo was sure to lift their spirits. And it did!

They contacted Murton Gillis, the buffalo manager for the Turtle Mountain Tribal herd.
“I said: ‘Yes, we would want that right away,’” said Gillis.

He can still hardly believe their good fortune.

“They mean a lot for hope and integrity. With everything going on with COVID, and everybody around the world being shut down. This could bring our tribe together in a good way, through prayer. So, I hope it does have a great influence on our people,” said Gillis.

A white buffalo holds significant cultural importance to Native Americans. It is believed the animal brings hope, healing and good times ahead.

“Just the fact that we have [a white bison] we can share with other Native Americans, just very special,” said Beverly Fischer.

“My husband and I have tried to do a lot with other people. We reached out to Turtle Mountain, and they said they would take him. So, being he’s a white buffalo, and that’s got a lot of significance for the Native Americans, we gave it to Turtle Mountain.”

When the white buffalo arrived in Belcourt in mid-April, crowds gathered to get a glimpse of the rare animal.

“People that had never seen it before thought it was a myth—like a unicorn, they told us,” said Gillis, as reported by the KFYR radio/TV station.

“We actually have one now and they’re like: ‘We can’t believe that was real. We only heard about it through books.’”

The community honored the buffalo with a drum ceremony.

Jeff DesJarlais, a tribal member, hopes the white buffalo will boost Belcourt’s tourism.

“That’ll be great for our community to bring it some outside visitors,” DesJarlais pointed out.

The Turtle Mountain tribe will have the white buffalo on display just outside Belcourt.

The tribe plans to breed the buffalo hoping to add another white bison to the herd. Plans are to eventually return the buffalo to the home ranch.

The Fischer Ranch in Selfridge plans to continue providing educational opportunities and plans to continue to develop and expand their ranch. They also hold an annual bison sale every winter.
Located in Belcourt ND, the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation is a 12 x 6 mile area. (Reported April 16, 2021, by KFYR and Nexstar.)

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

City of Sturgis to introduce the town’s first ever Running of the Buffalo

Claim your Buffalo Run T-Shirt with this official Logo.

NEWS RELEASE
by Real Rock Fox 1003, April 1, 2021

(Sturgis, SD) – City of Sturgis to introduce the town’s first ever Running of the Buffalo down Legendary Main Street during the 81st Annual Motorcycle Rally. The inaugural “Buffalo-Run will feature 2,000 Bison provided by Slim Buttes and Jumpoff Buffalo Ranches and will take place Monday, August 9th at 3:00 PM. 

The inaugural “Running of the Buffalo” is inspired by the traditional Spanish event, “Running of the Bulls,” and will take place on the first Monday of the 81st Sturgis Motorcycle Rally at 3:00pm.  The city of Sturgis will be working through the night on Sunday, August 8th, to install protective fencing along Legendary Main Street for the safety of spectators.

According to Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen, “The indigenous Bison in our area are one of the many things that makes our Rally so unique. We thought adding the Sturgis Buffalo Run to our list of official events would be a great way to put a unique Black Hills spin on such an iconic tradition known around the world.”

Scott Peterson, a long-time member of the Hamster’s Motorcycle Club and owner of the Jumpoff Buffalo Ranch, is excited to add a new layer of Americana and history to the Sturgis Rally. “Being a lifelong supporter of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, we’re thrilled to be able to be able to provide this exciting new event.

“Our herd has already started training by running up and down Highway 85.” 

The run will take place on Main Street in legendary downtown Sturgis among the thousands of motorcycles and riders. The herd will be released at the corner of Harley Davidson Way and Main Street and conclude at the corner of Main and Junction.

Sturgis Rally attendees will also be able to take home a commemorative “Buffalo Run T-Shirt.” 

“Our herd has already started training by running up and down Highway 85.”

Best April Fools Day joke? Or was it?

The city of Sturgis received so many enthusiastic responses to their April Fools’ Day joke that they felt compelled to explain. Later the same day they published a retraction.

They didn’t really mean it. They have no subconscious wish to wipe out any portion of any unruly crowd at the Motorcycle rally this fall.

“The newly announced, ‘Running of the Buffalo’ event is nothing more than horseplay,” their afternoon News Release insisted. “and will not take place down Legendary Main Street this summer—or ever!”

A lot of people had really thought they’d like to come see the show! If there was one they’d be there!

Meanwhile a few cowboys may have offered to join their neighbors—the intrepid buffalo ranchers who supposedly would sacrifice their livestock—for a rowsing roundup and stampede down Main Street of Sturgis. (One of my family is quite sure the buffalo would win that one! “A couple dozen ralliests would be taken out!”)

Of course it couldn’t happen. Our readers know—don’t they?—that buffalo bulls in Full Panic Mode can and will charge through any fence? A stampede will certainly set them off in all directions!

That’s to say nothing of the clean-up alone–even from 2,000 well-behaved buffalo. Wheelbarrows full of more than any motorcyclist would dare to touch!

So. April Fool! Sorry. Gotcha. Or did it?

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

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