By Jon Mobeck, Executive Director |
The Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation had a terrific year in 2019, making meaningful contributions to our wild community in a variety of ways. Our work to make roads safer for people and wildlife, which began at our founding 26 years ago, continued as we joined partners in supporting a successful ballot initiative that resulted in a $10M investment in wildlife crossing infrastructure. Our annual Teton County Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Report, along with the many graphs, maps and infographics we created to enliven these data, illuminated the impact of our roads on wildlife and provided an essential tool to decision-makers.
In the past year, with 300 Wildlife Friendlier Fencing volunteer days logged over 21 projects, we removed or improved 14 miles of fences in Teton and Sublette County, WY. Over the past four years alone, volunteers have collectively contributed more than 1,000 days in the field to make 28 miles of fence more conducive to safe passage for wildlife.
Also this year, our team organized 20 Snake River Float Surveys from May to September during which we recorded more than 7,000 wildlife observations. We spent more than 1,000 hours in the field capturing 619 birds and banding 372 of them to contribute data toward a multi-decade bird research project. In the 16th season of our Mountain Bluebird Nestbox Project, our volunteers monitored 112 boxes as we gathered more data on the least-studied member of the bluebird family. Nearly 100 volunteers turned out to record moose observations on Moose Day 2019, providing valuable data to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department on one of Jackson Hole’s most iconic, and perhaps vulnerable, species.
The best thing about all of these accomplishments is that they are the product of an engaged community. The JHWF team has the honor of helping to coordinate and plan projects, but nothing happens until passionate individuals pitch in. Many of the hundreds of JHWF volunteers have been there since the beginning in 1993. Others have more recently joined the “JHWF family”.
After four years as the Executive Director of JHWF, I now have the opportunity to embark on a new adventure in a new place. While setting off in a new direction is exciting, I’m also grateful for a pause that allows me to reflect on the experiences along the trail that led me here, and express my gratitude to the people who have made this work so rewarding for me. The job of Executive Director of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation is one of the best jobs on the planet. The daily interaction with the great people of this community, and the daily interactions with wildlife, together comprise an exceedingly rare privilege.
Thank you to every board and staff member, to every volunteer and donor, to every agency and organizational partner, to every engaged community member, for being a part of something that I believe to be truly special. The work of JHWF is vital, conducted in a way that builds grassroots support for meaningful improvements to the landscape for wildlife. If a “land ethic evolves in the minds of a thinking community” as Aldo Leopold suggested, then Jackson Hole’s passionate community members form a fertile landscape, and JHWF’s deep roots have supported the growth of a forest of beneficial actions.
During the next few months, JHWF will seek to find a new Executive Director, and I will continue to fulfill my responsibilities until I can hand them to a new person, which I will be honored to do. Few places in the world retain the riches of wildlife that we enjoy here, and few opportunities are as good as this one to make a difference with a wide-ranging family of active wildlife enthusiasts and advocates.
I would strongly encourage interested people to learn more about the position and apply at https://jhwildlife.org/about-us/jobs-and-internships/
To the community of wildlife supporters of all kinds, I offer my thanks and appreciation.