Their Song Brings Me Back

A Story of Inspiration

I remember it like it was yesterday.

I was just eleven years old, on a field trip to the Eldridge Conservation Easement in Victor. Land owner, Howard Eldredge greeted our class with a warm smile in the cool misty rain. Steve Powell, from the land trust, guided our adventure. We were all excited be outside for the day.

We explored Sweathouse Creek, studying water bugs, blades of grass, and flowers. The musical trill of red–winged blackbirds called to us through the cattails. Almost a decade later, their song brings me right back to that day. The day I knew I wanted to be a part of something bigger than me–to protect the beauty and wonder of the natural world.

As a senior in high school, I got to intern at the land trust helping with the Barn Dance and creating a short video for social media. I had a blast celebrating and promoting local conservation. Again, I found myself a part of something bigger than me. I’m so grateful for what I learned through that experience.

After graduation, I left Montana to go to college in New York with a renewed passion for protecting Montana’s landscapes. I don’t think I would feel this way if it weren’t for my time spent at the land trust. I’m excited about my future career in environmental law.

We all value community, the connection to nature, and our sense of place.

Without the ranch down the road, the creeks where trout spawn, and trails where I can hike when I’m back home–the Bitterroot just wouldn’t be the same.

Growing up, I was lucky to be surrounded by adults who value our natural resources, and rural landscape, and believe in protecting it for the future. I also witnessed how easily all these things can be lost, forever.  This contrast between love and loss of the place only strengthened my outlook on conservation.

The good news is we can all be a part of something bigger than ourselves and make a difference protecting the beauty and wonder of our natural world.

–Elise Striebel