Wildlife Speaker Series

Photo Credit: Nick Franz

Photo Credit: Nick Franz

Photo Credit: Tom Bowler

Photo Credit: Tom Bowler

Photo Credit: Lucinda Morris

Photo Credit: Lucinda Morris

Photo Credit: Ruby Habitat Foundation

Photo Credit: Ruby Habitat Foundation

Why do this work?

Montana is home to a wide variety of charismatic wildlife species and wild lands that draw people to the area, resulting in more interactions between people and wildlife. Our close proximity to Yellowstone National Park increases the visibility of grizzly and wolf recovery programs and attracts a diverse array of viewpoints. As a result, these high profile species often dominate conversations about wildlife, impact support of conservation initiatives, and overshadow other species that maintain a lower profile but are equally fascinating.

Why does it matter?

No matter what your background, each of us is influenced by the wildlife and landscapes that make this region unique. Far too often, conversations about wildlife can be divisive and disconnect us from wildlife, leaving less time to be inspired by where we live and who we share the landscape with. The Wildlife Speaker Series provides a break from these conversations to sit back with our friends and neighbors and enjoy learning about some of our less controversial wildlife.

What are we doing to help?

In 2013, the Wildlife Speaker Series was initiated to increase awareness and refocus the conversation about wildlife. These events share stories of conservation initiatives and interesting wildlife facts at historical working lands and conservation-oriented venues. In five years, more than 3,400 people have attended our events and learned about 28 different species that live in Montana. Surveys show that 76% of attendees feel they were significantly more informed about wildlife after attending an event.

What difference does it make?

Through these events, we build trust, present a social opportunity to learn together, and foster relationships with community members and wildlife experts. The Speaker Series presents a safe, positive place for open discussion between people of varied backgrounds and points of view. The result is a community that understands the issues, is familiar with the people making decisions about wildlife, and, perhaps most importantly, has a more informed voice to weigh in on conservation decisions.


Not only are the speaker programs very informative, but the manner in which you bring them about is fantastic — the dynamic of watching a stalwart wildlife presenter husbanding a clutch of irrationally exuberant youngsters with multiple containers of amphibians being passed about on a summer evening at a working ranch is easily as enlightening as the revelations about a Rubber Boa itself. Not to mention hearing from a sound avian authority that exotic bird species from Florida can survive the winter in Dillon, Montana due to McDonalds drive-through. You don’t get that kind of insight from the text book.
— Tom Bowler, Wildlife Speaker Series Attendee



The success of this project is made possible through collaboration with our many partners.

On-The Ground Partners

Beaverhead Conservation District / Beaverhead Watershed Committee
Beaverhead County Commissioners
Beaverhead County Planners
Big Hole Watershed Committee
Big Sky Watershed Corps
Centennial Valley Association
Madison Conservation District
Madison County Planners
Madison County Commissioners
Madison River Foundation
Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Montana Land Reliance
Ruby Habitat Foundation
Ruby Valley Conservation District / Ruby Watershed Committee

Funding Partners

Beaverhead County
Brainerd Foundation

Harder Foundation
Patagonia, Inc.

Private Individuals

Ruby Habitat Foundation
Ruby Valley Conservation District

Wilburforce Foundation

Local Sponsors

Anderson & Platt
Gravel bar
R.L. Winston Rods Co.
Sarah Morris Art
Trout Stalkers
Willie's Distillery

Survey results

2015 Speaker Series Survey Results

2016 Speaker Series Survey Results

2017 Speaker Series Survey Results

photo credit: lucinda morris

photo credit: lucinda morris