SEPTEMBER 2021: "RANCHING IS FOR THE BIRDS"
Speaker: Sarah Sortum
Date: September 14, 2021
Presentation Summary: When the Switzer Ranch turned to nature based tourism it spurred the family to learn more about grassland birds. Sarah and her family soon fell in love with this aspect of their ranch and began to look for ways to incorporate biodiversity and habitat improvement into their management goals. Sarah will outline how they actively manage for grassland birds on their ranch using the ecological processes that shaped the Great Plains; fire and grazing. She will also give a summary of the Sandhills ecosystem and highlight some of the unique birds found there.
Speaker Bio: Sarah (Switzer) Sortum’s passion for the land began by growing up on her family’s ranch in the Sandhills of Nebraska. However, returning to the family operation didn’t look financially possible after completing college (she bounced around between ND, WY and MN before receiving a Bachelor’s in Social Studies). Sarah and her husband managed a high end resort ranch in northern CO before taking a leap of faith and returning to Nebraska 15 years ago, near Sarah’s home place. By using conservation as a rural economic development tool, Sarah and her family were able to move back to the Switzer Ranch where they are raising their two boys, which is a life goal.
Sarah and her family currently steward the Switzer Ranch, where biodiversity is a key management goal, with special emphasis on grassland bird habitat. She is also a 4-H Leader, Loup County School Board Member, and Nebraska State Tourism Commissioner. She and her family enjoy spending time together practicing for and attending rodeos.