Made possible by a $10,000 grant from Patagonia, The Center for Jackson Hole created the 2018 SHIFTx Fellowship Fund to support projects by Emerging Leaders Program alumni that address issues of importance to their communities.
The inaugural Fund recipients, 2017 Emerging Leaders Program alumni Mateen Hessami and Jess Johnson, were awarded $10,000 for their Hunting and Fishing Mentorship Program proposal, which recruits twenty highly motivated university students, with an emphasis on women, and immerse them in a year-long conservation and subsistence development program. Participants are learning every aspect of becoming an independent, public-land subsistence consumer and conservation activist.
Here is the third of four progress reports from the grantees.
On February 19th, the Montana State University student chapter of BHA held its first legislative training panel. This legislative engagement workshop was the third of our four planned events under our 2018 Patagonia SHIFT grant, Hunting and Fishing Mentorship, made possible by the Center for Jackson Hole. Around 80 individuals form the Bozeman community attended to hear personal experiences and advice from the panelists, with over half of those in attendance being students.
The individuals selected for the panel consisted of Fresh Tracks host, Randy Newberg, Director of Conservation of Meateater TV, Ryan Callaghan, and Executive Director of 2% for Conservation, Jared Frasier. These three political veterans regaled the attendees with their personal experiences of working in both the national and state arena of conservation advocacy.
Randy shared his origin story of how and why he became involved in the political atmosphere of the Gallatin Valley in the early 1990s and how he has continued to be involved over the years on both the State and National stage. Ryan went in depth on his personal involvement in the national legislator and the process involved with influencing representatives to address the Land and Water Conservation Fund which has passed the U.S. Senate and is currently before the House of Representatives. Jared gave his personal bit of knowledge on the good, the bad, and the ugly of contacting representatives from his position as a BHA volunteer and from his current position at 2% for Conservation.
A recurring theme of the night was the importance of brewery politics and consistently contacting your representatives. The three openly encouraged the attendees to reach out and contact their representatives as soon as possible. A reiterated point to the attendees was to always thank their representatives when they do a good job, but also to keep the pressure on when they are not supporting a pro-public lands position. Another point made was the necessity of showing up not only on general election day — but the underrated importance of party primaries.
In the question and answer section of the panel, students asked questions surrounding bills passed by the Montana Legislator and current bills, such as S.B. 224, H.B. 10, and H.B. 161. Other questions surrounded the implementation of the current Montana elk management plan and the failure of the sportsman community to become involved in the process. The panelist mentioned that key fights in Montana’s future might surround the status of WSAs (Wilderness Study areas) as well as the block management program.
Through the experience shared by the panelists, attendees gained the tools and knowledge necessary to engage with their representatives. They were advised to follow as many newsletters as possible, good or bad, to stay up to date on political positions, and to always contact their representatives. Overall it was a tremendous experience for everyone involved and I would go so far as to guarantee if held again we would see even more individuals from the conservation community in attendance.
Exposing our student club to this event gave them a holistic understanding of their role as conservation activist. UM/MSU BHA students purchase their tags in the fall, contributing to state wildlife revenue. Next, they harvest animals, sustainably sourcing healthy and ethically obtained protein. Last, our students engage with their elected officials in a civic effort to safeguard the policies and laws in place that ensure the quarry they are pursuing have adequate habitat to persist. This timeline of events describes our students who been exposed to this unique and important tradition made possible by this grant.