News Archives July 17, 2012

News for July 17, 2012


"Ranching in the Extremes" will be the topic of the Trans©Pecos Wildlife Conference, scheduled Aug. 2©3 at Sul Ross State University.

The last two years have been some of the most challenging ranchers have ever faced in west Texas. Deep freezes, wildfires, and a drought of record have had incredible impacts on the cattle industry, wildlife populations, and the local economy. 

The conference will be held in the Espino Conference Center. Morgan University Center. The

Borderlands Research Institute for Natural Resource Management (BRI) at Sul Ross is partnering with several agencies to host the event. Collaborators are the Texas Wildlife Association (TWA), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

Sessions begin at 8 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 2 and continue through the day with presentations on wildfire, drought, water conservation, watershed management, brush control, and habitat management. Following a catered lunch, presenters will discuss mountain lions, Chronic Wasting Disease, nongame management, desert mule deer, pronghorn, and desert bighorn sheep.  That evening, the Texas Wildlife Association is hosting a social at Kokernot Lodge for all

On Friday morning, Aug. 3, a half-day field trip will be held, with demonstrations at the Quarter Circle Ranch in the Glass Mountains to highlight some of their range and wildlife management practices. Included will be habitat recovery following the Roper Wildfire of 2011, pronghorn habitat improvements, grassland restoration using herbicide, and others.  

The morning will conclude with a tailgate discussion by landowners throughout the region that will share their experiences with various ranch management strategies.

To register, log onto or contact Helen Holdsworth (TWA) at or 800-TEX-WILD. Registration fee is $50 before July 23, and $75 thereafter. The fee includes all breaks, lunch, and the social.

To sponsor the event or be an exhibitor, contact Helen Holdsworth (TWA) at or 800-TEX-WILD. 




From sleeping in the residence halls to viewing the night skies through telescope, area eighth-grade students gained a week of collegiate experience at Sul Ross State University.

Through the Sul Ross GEAR UP program, incoming eighth-graders from Alpine, Del Rio, Presidio and Terlingua school districts dissected frogs, honed their math skills, wrote scripts and filmed plays. They swam in the university pool and competed in a physical education "Olympic games" format.

"Our main focus is to get the students accustomed to being on campus; to have a small taste of the college life," said Aster Trevino, GEAR UP director.

GEAR UP is a federally funded grant program that serves and tracks a cohort of area students who entered seventh grade in the fall of 2011. The program continues through a summer college bridge program following high school graduation in 2018 and through their first year in college.

To improve academic achievement, high school graduation, and college enrollment, participants receive services at no cost. Services include tutoring, after-school academic success skills programs, intensive Summer Camp Programs, college and financial aid workshops and individual counseling, mentoring, 21st Century Scholar events, and scholarship opportunities.

Over 50 percent of Sul Ross’ GEAR UP participants from the previous grant period have enrolled in either two- or four-year colleges, many at Sul Ross. Several of the Residence Advisers in Lobo Village were GEAR UP participants, including Daniel Levario, Daisy Perez and Jorge Bustamante, Presidio; Deidra Francis, Marfa; Chelsea Willard, Terlingua; and Jared Rios, Pecos.

"They are walking examples of what GEAR UP can do," Trevino said.

During the summer camp, students were taught by teachers from participating school districts, including Maribel Ruiz and Terra Farmer, Alpine ISD (language arts); Justin Ceniceros, Alpine; and Jasphar Valeriano, Presidio (science); and Carmen Drinkard, Terlingua; and Elizabeth Bromley-Rash, Alpine (mathematics). Rockland Owens, a physical education teacher from Marathon, directed the activities.

"Some of these teachers are instructors the students are going to have in the coming years," said Patrick Clingman, GEAR UP data manager.

In addition to daily class and activity sessions, GEAR UP students studied astronomy with Dave Oesper. They visited McDonald Observatory north of Fort Davis and also studied the solar system via telescopes set up in the Mountainside parking lot.

"Basically, from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., they’re busy all the time," said GEAR UP assistant director Monica Saenz, noting the students also enjoyed supervised free time.

The week-long activities were highlighted by an awards presentation and a dance on Thursday evening. Students boarded buses and departed for home early Friday afternoon. Students also completed a survey of the camp activities. All students completing the survey indicated they would recommend participation in the GEAR UP program and attending the summer camp to their friends.

"For many students, it was the first time they have left their family for an entire week," Clingman said, adding that the summer camp is a capstone of the first year’s grant activities. During the school year, GEAR UP representatives are present in all the participating schools, offering services for both students and their parents.

"This is definitely a total family commitment, and both students and their parents receive a good dose of the collegiate experience year-around," said Trevino. "We maintain almost daily contact with the students."

Clingman (serving Alpine and Terlingua), Saenz (Presidio) and Olga Garza (Del Rio) are the GEAR UP representatives. Del Rio, with 800 of the 965 incoming eighth-graders, is served by three persons when fully staffed. Del Rio is participating for the first time, while Alpine, Terlingua and Presidio school districts were active in the previous grant period.

Saenz noted that a number of parents of Del Rio students came to Sul Ross to stay with their children and serve as volunteers.

"Overall, we had a lot of parental involvement," she said. "Some of the volunteers with us in the old grant period have stayed on."

The GEAR UP staff also praised Sul Ross’ hospitality, including the Residential Life staff and Jeff Blake, director of the University Center and Campus Activities. They added that the camp will help bonding among students and communities.

"Students are making friends that they will have for at least the next few years," Trevino said. "These communities have so much in common."

For more information on GEAR UP, contact Trevino, (432) 837-8807.




Diana Salazar, Del Rio, a Sul Ross -Rio Grande College student, is one of nine participants selected for participation in the 2012 Hispanic College Quiz Show.

The event, sponsored by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), will feature Hispanic undergraduate college students answering a series of multiple-choice questions on Latino history. The show will be taped in Chicago the week of July 23.

This year's series will consist of four half-hour quiz shows that will air across the country during Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept.15-Oct. 14.

Salazar, who is coached by Claudia Wright, RGC director of Admissions, Records and Student Services, will compete against eight other contestants from colleges in Colorado, Washington, California, Florida, Illinois and the University of Houston Downtown and Victoria College of Texas.

For more information, contact Wright, (830) 758-5006 or




Dr. Louis Harveson, Sul Ross State University professor of Natural Resource Management and director of the Borderlands Research Institute, will present a webinar, "Pronghorn in Peril: Efforts to Recover a Declining Species," on Thursday, July 19.

The webinar, hosted by Texas Wildlife Association and Texas AgriLife Extension Service, will be held from noon-1 p.m. CST and may be accessed on home or office computers. To sign on for the webinar, point the browser to on the day of the webinar and click to join the Wildlife for Lunch webinar. Harveson’s presentation will cover ongoing efforts to better understand the current pronghorn decline and restore populations to their former habitats. Specific topics include: evaluating the role of barriers on the genetic diversity of Trans-Pecos pronghorn herds, identifying diseases in pronghorn and determining their effects, assessing the effects of predation on pronghorn fawns, documenting the success of pronghorn restoration efforts and monitoring the movements of pronghorn following translocation.

For more information, contact Courtney Brittain at




by Steve Lang, News and Publications

In the 1970s, Texas musicmakers revolted against the Nashville recording style. According to research by a Sul Ross State University student, a movement was born and in the lyrics of one of its members, "the road goes on forever."

Phyllis Dunham, Alpine, has written a 130-page paper, "The People’s Poets of Texas: Literature Born Within the Singer/Songwriter Tradition of the Last Forty Years," as a McNair Program research project. Her extensive work examines the poetry found in the songs of several generations of modern Texas singer/songwriters and makes a case for the consideration of their work as a genuine regional literature.

Led by Billy Joe Shaver, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker, Texas singer/songwriters fled the "formulaic" Nashville scene and adapted a recording style more traditionally Texas: almost live and in close touch with the audience. Once called "outlaw country," the music has evolved into its own genre.

Lyrically, Texas singer/songwriters broached subjects avoided by the Nashville tradition and in a language uniquely Texas, Dunham asserts.

"Texans speak in simile and metaphor and speak in poetry in general," Dunham said. She added that this "Texas speak" has become a staple of singer/songwriters since the 1970s, and the movement has continued.

"Contrary to some academics who noted that this songwriting scene flourished for awhile, then died, I couldn’t see the death," she said. She added that succeeding generations of singer/songwriters, such as Robert Earl Keen, Ruthie Foster and James McMurtry and later, Hayes Carll, continue the movement.

In the words of Keen, "the road goes on forever" in terms of present generation singer/songwriters’ regard for their predecessors.

Dunham cited three albums: Jennings’ "Honky Tonk Heroes," with all but one song written or co-written by Shaver; Nelson’s "Red Headed Stranger" and Walker’s "Viva Terlingua" as break-through music for the Texas movement.

The albums, said Dunham, "bypassed Nashville" and the formulaic sounds of studio musicians, often orchestras and lush strings, by using their own bands. The results, both lyrically and musically, produced sounds common to Texas, including honky tonk, conjunto and western swing.

"These three albums changed things for everybody and proved there was a market for music recorded this way," she said.

In delving into a rich subject, built on a foundation of numerous musical generations and cultures, Dunham limited her written research to 13 singer/songwriters "after I made a case for it being a movement."

"(The project is) not as insane as it could have been," she laughed. "It’s such a huge topic."

Her subjects include Townes Van Zandt, Shaver, Joe Ely, Rodney Crowell, Alejandro Escovedo, Dale Watson, Foster, McMurtry, Carolyn Wonderland, Carll, Ryan Bingham, and Alpine’s Chris McWilliams, a Sul Ross graduate and a member of a local band, The Doodlin’ Hogwallops.

"I didn’t necessarily pick the best poets, and they’re (subjects) all over the map, both geographically and ethnically," she said.

As a witness to the Austin scene of the 1970s, she has followed the trend ever since.

"I kept seeing what was a movement, but not described as a movement, and I kept seeing it come from Texas," she said. "It opened up a whole new way of making a living and producing music for people who were more artistic and poetic and not interested in doing formulaic music."

Dunham, who will graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in English (creative writing emphasis), plans to seek a master’s degree in creative non-fiction, then teach and write.

As for her research, "I think there’s a book in there. A definitive book on the Austin music scene has not been written."

The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program is designed to encourage first generation, low-income students and minority undergraduates to consider careers in college teaching as well as prepare for doctoral study. Students who participate in the program are provided with research opportunities and faculty mentors.

Named in honor of the astronaut who died in the 1986 space-shuttle explosion, the program was established at Sul Ross in November 2007. It is funded through the Department of Education’s TRIO programs.

For more information, contact Mary Bennett, director, (432) 837-8478 or