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Saving the Nebraska Sandhills with the World Wildlife Fund

August 21, 2013
Filed in: Conservation, Depth In The Field, Ranching, Way of Life

Words courtesy of Matt Wagner, the Director of Conservation Outreach and the Freedom to Roam Initiative in North America for WWF.

For 110 years, Sarah Sortum’s family has called their ranch in the Nebraska Sandhills home. Originally settled by her great-grandfather, and eventually passed on to her parents, their 12,000 acre ranch continues to be a foundation of Loup County.

But, the idea of handing down the ranch to Sarah and her brother, Adam Switzer, wasn’t always a given. You see, in this part of the world, there are no handouts. In order to take over the ranch, Sarah and Adam would need to buy the ranch from their parents – just as their parents had done.

Unfortunately, the income opportunities on the ranch weren’t enough to support three families, let alone leave enough for Sarah and Adam to save. So, after leaving the ranch for college, both kids came back and began carving a new future for the Switzer ranch. A future where ranching worked alongside hunting, nature, jeep tours and floating big, blue horse troughs down the river.

Watch to see how the Switzer ranched evolved to include Calamus Outfitters and the annual Prairie Chicken Festival, a weekend that attracts professional and amateur photographers and birders from across the country.

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