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March 30, 2000


Ramona, California -- On March 30, 2000 first grade students from James Dukes Elementary School in Ramona got a first hand experience in what its like to roam with the buffalo.  The first grade class lead by teacher Jane MacInnes and student teacher, Holly Mefford braved the 30 minute journey into the hills of Ramona to attend Star B Ranch's new "Roam with the Buffalo Educational Program."  A real live working buffalo ranch since 1979, the Star B Ranch welcomed the students who eagerly had been waiting for this day to arrive.  "I first let our students know about this field trip over three weeks ago," said student teacher Holly Mefford.  "Since then they've been very inquisitive about the trip, and have been learning about bison in class."

   While on the ranch, the students observed four buffalo that had been brought in from the main herd for the occasion.  The students learned about the history of the American Bison, and how the bison were used primarily for food, shelter and survival by the Plains Indians.  When the first settlers came to America, they described the estimated 60 million bison that roamed the continent as "a huge black blanket as far as the eye could see, to numerous to count".  Nearing the late 1880's due to the unmanaged slaughtering of the bison for sport, food, and hides, the bison were nearly extinct.  Their numbers were at an incredible low of 250 buffalo.  The twenty-two students learned that because of breeding stock programs like the one implemented at the Star B Ranch bison herds now number in the 300,000 range.  And, once again, bison has become a healthy alternative food source for the American Diet.

   Afterwards, the students were introduced, up-close and personal, to the ranch's " friendly" buffalo, Tatonka.  Tatonka is kept in an enclosure near the working headquarters of the ranch.  The 11-year-old cow was orphaned at birth and hand raised by Denice Childs with her husband ken who Manages the ranch.  "She thinks she's a dog", Childs told the youngsters, adding that Tatonka weighs about 1,300 pounds.  The youngsters were impressed with the size of the animal.  "They were cool how they looked," said Jacob Plunkett, 6.

   The students also learned about the health benefits of buffalo meat with its lower content of fat and cholesterol.  They learned that bison meat is the leanest when compared to meats such as ordinary beef, chicken and even fish.  "We've tride to educate them that bison are produced without the use of harmful additives and growth hormones because no one really knows what those chemicals do to our bodies, we feel it necessary to exclude all additives from our program," stated Paul Mefford, Marketing and Public Relations Director for the ranch.

   The students were then treated to a taste of Star B Ranch's famous gourmet buffalo dogs and a lesson on how Star B Ranch sells and markets it's popular bison meat products to grocery stores throughout Southern California.  When 6 year old student, Sy Noel, was asked what he had to say about the tasty buffalo dogs, he enthusiastically replied -- "Super!"  Students all agreed that they would love to have buffalo on their lunch menus at school.  "Maybe some day" replied ken Childs, manager of the ranch.  Teacher Jane MacInness  stated "the program is a wonderful educational experience for students learning about animals, history or science."  When asked if she would recommend the program to other schools she replied -- "Definitely... Oh, for sure!"

   "We feel that this experience is a wonderful educational tool and that it can greatly enhance the students education.  It allows students to learn about the history of North America's largest native land animal, the American Bison.  They also get first hand knowledge of how a ranching business operates", states Mefford.

   The Star B Ranch, currently not open to the public, is accepting elementary (kindergarten through sixth grade) school field trips for its "Roam with the Buffalo Educational Program" on a limited basis in order to educate the young about this magnificent animal that has been and continues to be a part of our American history.  For those who would like to learn more about the ranch and American Bison, the ranch offers its educational web site at, or contact Paul Mefford, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at: 1(800) 9-BUFFALO.

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