CHADRON – The seed of an idea planted more than 40 years ago came to fruition July 13 when Larry Young donated his plant collection of more than 1,000 specimens to the High Plains Herbarium at Chadron State College.
Herbarium Director Steve Rolfsmeier said a conversation a year ago in which he updated another CSC alumni, Larry Trout, about progress at the herbarium prompted a discussion between Trout and Young that eventually led to the donation.
“It’s a huge boost to the collection. The areas represented in Larry’s collection are regions we are particularly interested in for our digitizing project we’ll be starting this fall,” Rolfsmeier said.
Young said based on his conversations with Rolfsmeier, he is excited about plans for the herbarium.
Young, a Kimball native, came to Chadron in 1975 to work in a farm and ranch real estate business after earning his bachelor’s degree in range management from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and six years of active service in the Army.
During his free time, he took several classes at CSC, including one with the late Dr. Ron Weedon. Through that course, Young realized real estate was not the profession for him.
“I was fortunate to become very good friends with Dr. Weedon. He became a mentor to me and encouraged me to go back to school for a master’s degree. We became good friends and he got me interested in collecting plants,” Young said. “He always said, ‘Whenever you decide to retire, I hope to get your collection.’ I’m so happy to donate it to the herbarium here and fulfill his request. I think it’s something that is really important to the college and the state of Nebraska.”
Young followed Weedon’s advice, earning his master’s degree in range management from the University of Wyoming.
In addition to starting his plant collection, Young said he helped Weedon write Appendix IV of former CSC professor Dr. Larry Agenbroad’s publication, “The Hudson-Meng Site: an Albert Bison Kill in the Nebraska High Plains.” The site is now named the Hudson-Meng Education & Research Center.
Young’s specimens, collected from 1975 until 2018, represent about 72 plant families from western Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Wyoming. The collection covers a good portion of the Sagebrush ecosystem also known as the Sagebrush Steppe.
The specimens were collected while Young conducted preliminary site investigations for uranium mining operations and provided plant samples for companies to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act. He said his work helped record ecosystem impacts from mining, as well as identify native species to use in reclamation work.
Young was also an environmental scientist with several environmental consulting companies where he used his knowledge of plant communities and ecosystems to prepare permits and environmental impact statements for projects on federal lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and the Federal Highway Administration. He also prepared Corps of Engineers 404 permits for Union Pacific railroad and other state and local government agencies.