Winter is when biologists spend time hashing through the past season’s data collection, writing reports and grants, and attending a lot of meetings. Most of this work pertains to individual or groups of study species, event planning, program funding, partnerships or regional initiatives. Often, non-game and big game biologists don’t interact much, this wasn’t the case at the annual Montana Chapter of the Wildlife Society gathering. Here, a few hundred wildlife professionals come together for four days of talks, posters, workshops, panels, dinners, networking, and chatter.
At the February session, Butte provided the wintery landscape and biologists did the rest. Montana Audubon partnered with Montana Wildlife Federation to present a three-hour communications workshop for biologists where we lead over sixty wildlife professionals through the structure of the legislature, what it means to lobby on behalf of wildlife, and the power of words we choose to communicate a conservation message. Our workshop included a panel of premiere wildlife-policy experts to answer hard questions facing wildlife professionals when it comes to advocacy: Martha Williams, the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks’ Director; Sam Milodragovich, a NorthWestern Energy biologist and raptor specialist; Jeff Welborn, Senator from Dillon and agriculturalist; and Janet Ellis, Montana Audubon’s Senior Director of Policy. Workshop participants committed to making new connections with elected officials, having more face-to-face conversations on the behalf of wildlife and healthy wildlife habitats, and focusing on what stakeholders share in common when it comes to tough policy decisions.
With another legislative session coming in 2019, this workshop is just one of the many steps Montana Audubon is taking to make sure the issues affecting birds and wildlife continue to be heard. As a partner, the Montana Chapter of the Wildlife Society has supported Montana Audubon’s legislative efforts for years now. Being able to host this workshop during their conference was a great way for our organization to give back and help build the strength and relevance of our advocacy community.
To all of the organizers and participants that made this possible – Thanks!