/ Modified apr 18, 2024 5:15 p.m.

Coronado National Forest launches Cochran Fellowship Program

Cross-border collaborative training in southeastern Arizona

Atascosa Borderlands 1 hero A view from the Atascosa Borderlands in the Coronado National Forest.
Atascosa Borderlands

Starting this week, the Coronado National Forest (CNF) will begin working with regional partners to provide training opportunities for agricultural professionals through the Cochran Fellowship Program on Sustainable Ranching.

In partnership with the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the Forest will host a two-week long seminar for eight fellows from central and northern Mexico, and work with U.S. universities, private companies and government agencies.

The comprehensive seminar will focus on agricultural trade and management, agribusiness development, policy and marketing.

Among the participants are four ranchers, two non-governmental organization employees and two government officials who work in rangeland and wildlife management.

They will acquire skills in fire management, collaborative conservation, restoration and various technical agricultural skills.

This marks the inaugural year of the CNF’s participation in the Cochran Fellowship Program.

Rachel Sheridan, from the United States Forest Service (USFS) Office of International Programs emphasized that the Cochran Fellowship aims to cultivate connections between the U.S. and participating countries.

“The real big overarching theme is looking at multi-stakeholder collaboration, so how can diverse groups that often have very different mandates, how can they come together for a shared objective of conserving these landscapes,” Sheridan said.

While there will be one or two indoor training sessions, Sheridan noted that 99% of the work will take place outdoors, across southeastern Arizona including the Sierra Vista Ranger District in the CNF.

“We’ll be meeting with their rangeland specialists so that the folks that work with ranchers that graze on Forest Service lands will also be working with their fire staff,” Sheridan explained.

The program will also involve other agencies such as the Department of Defense (DOD).

“The Forest Service has the Fort Huachuca Sentinel Landscape Program, which is a large landscape-scale initiative to do fire management, to do conservation on these shared landscapes,” Sheridan added.

Starr Farrell, a spokesperson for the CNF said the environment knows no border, stressing the importance of sharing knowledge between U.S. and Mexican ranchers.

“These introductions will allow information from U-S ranchers to go to Mexican ranchers because we are on the border there…and so we’re looking at how can we work better across this entire landscape and broaden that out,” Farrell said.

Farrell added that the Forest Service looks forward to future collaborations across the border.

Since its inception in 1984, the Cochran Fellowship Program, named after Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi, has provided training and support in agricultural systems to various countries, aiming to enhance agricultural and natural resource management ties.

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