Cover image of Mountain & Prairie with Ed Roberson

Mountain & Prairie with Ed Roberson

Conversations with innovators of the American West. Guests include athletes, artists, adventurers, writers, ranchers, conservationists, entrepreneurs, thought leaders—anyone who’s doing inspired work that contributes to the region’s evolving and complex cultural fabric.Through informal yet substantive interviews, conservationist Ed Roberson introduces you to these fascinating characters, giving you a better understanding of their careers, influences, and outlooks, as well as a deeper appreciation for life in the American West.

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Jillian Lukiwski - Art and Adventure in the American West

Jillian Lukiwski is a writer, photographer, and silversmith who lives near the banks of the Snake River in south central Idaho. Her quiet confidence and deliberate approach to living have allowed Jillian to blaze her own trail, creating a rewarding career and an authentic life centered around Idaho's unique landscape. When not working, Jillian and her husband enjoy the western lifestyle from every imaginable angle—bird hunting with their german shorthair pointers, big game hunting, fishing, running, horseback riding, mountain biking, caring for their farm animals, and cultivating their land, to name a few. Big western landscapes have always been an important part of Jillian’s life—her father worked for Canada’s National Park Service, so she was raised with a deep appreciation for the outdoors and adventure. From an early age, she was riding—and falling off of—horses, shadowing her father in the backcountry, and building a personal foundation of self-sufficiency and toughness. As a young woman, she applied that ingrained tenacity to writing, photography, and creating jewelry, and has since built a loyal following of admirers and customers around the world through her website, The Noisy Plume. We had a fun conversation and managed to cover a wide range of interesting topic. We discussed her life path that eventually landed her in southeastern Idaho, and we chatted about the unique nature of that region. We talked about her creative process, how she’s been mostly self-taught in all of her art forms, and how she is able to manage the distractions of social media and the online world. We chatted about the importance of being uncomfortable, and how self-imposed physical and mental challenges can help to inoculate yourself against the inevitable difficulties of life. Jillian is a voracious reader, so we had a great discussion about books, as well as how reading has contributed to her success as a writer. Be sure to check the episode notes for a full list of everything we discussed. This was a fun and inspiring interview, and I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did. http://mountainandprairie.com/jillian-lukiwski/ Topics discussed: 2:50 - How Jillian describes her work 3:20 - Jillian’s home in Idaho 4:40 - How she ended up in southeastern Idaho 7:00 - Description of Pocatello and the surrounding landscape 9:10 - Growing up in Canada’s National Parks 10:50 - Childhood in the outdoors 13:00 - Lessons in toughness learned from her father 16:40 - Jillian’s university experience 18:50 - Jillian’s drive to be her own boss 19:45 - Her early attraction to jewelry 21:00 - First silversmithing class 22:50 - Being a self-taught artist 24:25 - Her quest for original ideas 26:20 - Avoiding social media distraction 28:20 - Daily routines and must-do activities 31:10 - Running 35:20 - Hunting and her relationship with her bird dogs 40:00 - The reality of posting hunting images on social media 44:10 - Why Jillian seeks out discomfort 48:35 - Stories of suffering and benefits of those experiences 50:30 - Advice for those seeking a life similar to Jillian’s 52:15 - Favorite books 56:20 - How reading has affected her writing 59:45 - More books 1:01:00 - Favorite movies 1:03:15 - Unexpected talents 1:04:30 - Most powerful experience in the outdoors 1:06:45 - Favorite location in the West 1:09:20 - Biggest challenge facing the West 1:12:00 - Jillian’s request of the listeners 1:12:59 - Connect with Jillian online

1hr 15mins

24 Jan 2018

Rank #1

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Jim Howell - Conserving and Restoring the World's Grasslands

Jim Howell is the CEO of Grasslands LLC, which is the land management arm of the Savory Institute, an organization that Jim co-founded. Both Grasslands and Savory focus on conserving and restoring the world’s grasslands through what they call “Holistic Management.” We discuss the details of Holistic Managment in the interview, but the basic idea is that the world’s grasses evolved to be grazed, and they need to be grazed in a natural manner to be healthy and resilient. • Jim and his team use livestock to mimic natural grazing patterns from hundreds of thousands of years ago, long before the world’s grasslands were covered with people, fences, houses, and cities. Savory and Grasslands’ results speak for themselves—after just a few years of holistic managment, their ranches are measurably healthier, more productive, more biodiverse, and more financially successful. • Even if you have absolutely no interest in grazing or ranches, you still need to listen to this interview, because the work Jim and his team are doing has a positive effect on land, people, plants, animals, and communities all around the world. Anyone who considers themselves to be conservation-minded and loves the outdoors needs to understand Jim’s work. I have no doubt that you’ll gain a new appreciation for the role that livestock needs to play in conserving grasslands around the world. Even if you’re a vegan living in New York City, you’ll gain some valuable insights from Jim’s point of view. • Jim is also an experienced world traveler, an avid reader, and an author, having written one of the best books I’ve read on land and conservation in the West and beyond: For the Love of Land: Global Case Studies of Grazing in Nature’s Image. And on top of all of that, he finds the time to run ultra-marathons and has completed some of the most challenging 50-mile trail races in Colorado. • Between Jim’s professional and personal interests, we had a lot to discuss. It was a fun conversation filled with valuable information, so I hope you enjoy. • http://mountainandprairie.com/jim-howell/ --- TOPICS DISCUSSED: 4:05 – How Jim describes his work 5:45 – How Grasslands’ Holistic Management differs from other ranch management practices 8:00 – Why are grasslands important? 11:00 – The natural history of grass 14:30 – Importance of grazing animals’ grazing behavior 17:30 – History of grass and animal relationships in the U.S. 18:40 – How modern commercial grazing differs from natural grazing patterns 22:00 – Comparing the health of grazed land versus National Park land where grazing is prohibited 26:15 – How grazing leads to more healthy soil and grasslands 27:50 – Common mistakes that conservationists make when evaluating grassland health 29:15 – Methods and results of measuring grassland health 31:15 – Specific methods for holistic grazing 35:30 – Length of time to truly understand a ranch’s grazing potential and needs 37:00 – Challenges related to the human component of ranching 40:30 – What are common objections to holistic grazing? 41:40 – The intellectual challenges of holistic grazing 43:50 – The economic benefits of holistic grazing with specific examples 48:20 – Jim’s unconventional path to ranching 52:20 – Jim discovers Savory’s work 55:15 – Jim’s travels and work on ranches around the world 57:40 – Lessons learned from traveling and working abroad 1:00:10 – How Jim started running ultra-marathons 1:02:50 – How humans evolved to run long distances 1:04:55 – Advice for people who want to run ultras 1:09:15 – Jim’s favorite books 1:12:50 – Favorite documentary 1:13:45 – Jim’s favorite place in the West 1:14:55 – Jim’s request of the listeners 1:17:30 – Grasslands and Savory contact information

1hr 19mins

27 May 2016

Rank #2

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Chris Eyer - Montana’s Mindful Mule Packer

Chris Eyer is a true Western polymath. He is probably best known for his work as a mule packer, in which he uses mules to transport supplies into some of Montana’s most remote wilderness areas—he documents the adventures on his extremely popular Instagram account "muledragger." But as you’ll hear in our conversation, mule packing only scratches the surface—Chris is an experienced mountaineer and climber, a former US Marine, a practicing Buddhist, a leather craftsman, and a successful electrical contractor. From his home base in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, Chris leads a full and fascinating life, working hard and enjoying his connection to the natural world and his animals. • Chris was raised in California, and from an early age was attracted to the outdoors and adventures in wild places. On a backpacking trip during his teens, he came across a team of mules and was immediately entranced—from that moment on, he knew that he wanted to work as a mule packer. As an adult, Chris taught himself the ins and outs of mule packing, a hard-knocks method of learning that’s not for the faint of heart. But through this long and tough self-education, he established incredibly deep relationships with all of his animals-- relationships that have significantly enriched his life in many ways. • As you’d expect from someone with Chris’s diverse set of experiences, we had an extremely wide-ranging conversation. We chat about how he became a mule packer and some of the crazy and scary experiences early in his career. We cover his time in the Marines, and the lessons he learned that carry over into his daily life now. We also discuss his connection to Buddhism and his meditation practice, and how his mindful approach to life and wilderness travel keeps him and his team of animals safe in dangerous situations. Chris also explains the specifics of mules from a biological and temperamental perspective. We discuss Chris’s unique connection to legendary alpinist Conrad Anker, as well as the similarities between packing and climbing. As usual, we hit upon books, films, favorite places in the West, and much more. • There’s a ton of amazing information in this episode, so be sure the check out the episode notes. Hopefully I’ll get Chris back for a part two, because there’s still plenty to discuss. Enjoy! ••• ••• TOPICS DISCUSSED: 2:50 - How Chris describes his work 4:15 - Bitterroot Valley 6:30 - How Chris settled in the Bitterroot 8:10 - The equine “feedback loop” 8:45 - Early days riding horses 9:40 - Influenced by Conrad Anker and Alex Lowe 11:10 - First interaction with a packer 12:15 - Joining the Marines 14:00 - Studying philosophy and religious studies 16:15 - Discovering the Montana wilderness 20:10 - Lessons learned from the Marines 23:40 - Buddhism in Chris’s daily life 27:30 - Life’s constant state of change 29:30 - The way wilderness strips away people’s surface-level differences 31:30 - How to learn to meditate 34:15 - Learning the details of mule packing 36:30 - Scary early experience packing 40:30 - Detailed discussion about mules 45:10 - Misconceptions about mules 47:30 - How Chris selects his mules 50:20 - Control versus letting go 55:20 - Trip with Conrad Anker 1:00:15 - Significance of the Heart W brand 1:03:30 - Favorite books 1:06:40 - Favorite documentaries 1:07:55 - Fun activities 1:10:00 - Most powerful outdoor experience 1:17:00 - Best advice 1:19:30 - Request of the listeners 1:20:30 - Connect with Chris online

1hr 22mins

7 May 2018

Rank #3

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Ben Masters - Conservation Through Innovative Filmmaking

Ben Masters is a filmmaker and conservationist whose work explores some of the most important conservation challenges facing the American West today. He was the mastermind behind the award-winning documentary "Unbranded," which tells the story of Ben and his three buddies who ride wild mustangs from Mexico to Canada as part of an epic five month-adventure. The film also examines the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse Program, a well-intentioned, but now controversial, government program created to protect the wild horses that roam the western U.S. For those who love the American West, "Unbranded" is one of the best documentaries in recent memory—it combines hardcore adventure with important conservation issues, all while accurately capturing the true beauty of the American West. • Conservation is the common theme running through all of Ben’s work, and his passion is fortified with a deep knowledge of natural history, public lands, and policy issues related to the American West. His expertise recently earned him a spot on the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, the group tasked with solving the challenging issues surrounding the program he profiled in "Unbranded." His most recent film, "Pronghorn Revival," is the story of Texas wildlife biologists capturing and relocating a struggling herd of pronghorns (i.e. antelopes). Not one to rest on his laurels, Ben is working hard on more conservation projects to be revealed in the coming months. • When we recorded this episode, Ben was less than a day away from leaving on a multi-week guiding trip to the area around Yellowstone National Park, so I really appreciated him making the time to chat. In just under an hour, we managed to cover a wide range of conservation-related topics: the BLM’s Wild Horse Program, invasive species in the American West, thoughts on hunting, as well as Ben’s personal background, favorite books, favorite documentaries, and a crazy horse stampede story... with plenty of other intesting subjects thrown in. • If you haven’t already, be sure to check out "Unbranded." You’ll love it. In the meantime, enjoy my conversation with Ben Masters. ••• http://mountainandprairie.com/ben-masters/ ••• TOPICS DISCUSSED: 3:05 - How Ben describes his work 3:35 - Ben’s upcoming adventures 5:40 - Overview of Unbranded documentary 7:45 - Genesis for the idea for Unbranded 9:45 - Overview of the BLM Wild Horse Program 10:15 - Natural history of horses in North America 14:20 - Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act 17:16 - Ben’s thoughts solving the wild horse challenge 21:10 - Political challenges surrounding wild horses 23:45 - More North American natural history 24:55 - What “conservation” means to Ben 26:00 - Ben’s personal connection to conservation 27:40 - Resources for understanding the history of conservation 29:00 - Conservation challenges facing the West in the next 20 years 32:10 - Ben’s thoughts on hunting and conservation 33:45 - Cautionary tale of Texas Screwworms 36:30 - Overview of Pronghorn Revival 38:35 - Favorite books 40:20 - Favorite documentary 41:30 - Ben’s work with veterans 42:23 - Hobbies that Ben enjoys 43:48 - How Ben learned the art of filmmaking 45:00 - Craziest outdoor experience 47:50 - Ben’s favorite place in the West 48:40 - Ben’s request of the listeners 51:30 - Connect with Ben online


27 Aug 2016

Rank #4

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Tyler Sharp - The Sportsman Storyteller

Tyler Sharp is an adventurer, sportsman, conservationist, and world traveler with a gift for telling stories through images and words. While he may be best known for his photography focusing on Americana and Western lifestyle, travel, and adventure, Tyler has built a substantial resume that includes filmmaking, directing, writing, and creative strategy. His work has taken him to some of the most spectacular and far-flung regions of the globe, with an emphasis on East Africa, Montana, and his home state of Texas. • As a devoted hunter and fisherman, Tyler has chased game in some of the world’s wildest regions, giving him a global perspective on the importance of natural resources, game management, and sustainable hunting practices. As you’ll hear in our conversation, Tyler has thought deeply about the practical and ethical implications of hunting and fishing both abroad and here in the American West. His sincere devotion to conservation and adventure shines through in his work and has made him the go-to photographer for iconic brands such as Filson, Cabelas, and Stetson, to name a few. • Tyler and I met up in Estes Park, Colorado, just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park, for a fun conversation that could have gone on for hours. We discussed his beginnings as a professional photographer, which began in earnest when he moved to East Africa just out of college—he’s got some intense stories from his travels that include run-ins with lions and leopards. We covered his thoughts on conservation, and how his time traveling abroad has given him a clearer understanding of conservation issues facing the American West. Then the conversation took an unexpected but interesting turn when we chatted about his commitment to Kung Fu (yes, Kung Fu!), meditation, and eastern philosophy. • Be sure to check out the episode notes for the full list of topics covered, because we touch on a lot. This is a wide-ranging conversation that takes many surprising twists and turns. Hope you enjoy! ••• http://mountainandprairie.com/tyler-sharp/ ••• TOPICS DISCUSSED: 2:40 - How Tyler describes his work 3:40 - Tyler’s niche in the creative world 4:25 - Tyler’s background 5:35 - Heading to Los Angeles from Texas for college 7:00 - Post college adventures in Africa 8:10 - The shock of moving to Tanzania from LA 10:30 - Learning how to “grease the wheels” in Africa 11:25 - How time in Africa changed Tyler 13:20 - Threat of people versus wildlife 14:10 - Craziest experience in Africa (spoiler alert - it involves a lion!) 20:40 - Showdown with a leopard 22:20 - Transition from Africa to American West 24:15 - His choice to focus in on his passion 26:30 - Specific actions that have allowed Tyler to separate himself from the competition 31:10 - Tyler’s personal brand 32:00 - Tyler’s conservation ethic 35:00 - Discussion about conservation and hunting 39:00 - Hunters and others coming together to save public lands 40:00 - Details on The Modern Huntsman 41:55 - Blowback from posting hunting photos online 44:35 - Importance of having conversations versus fighting 46:30 - Tyler’s definition of “conservation” 50:00 - Kung Fu and other martial arts 52:50 - Physical and mental benefits of Kung Fu 56:00 - Favorite books 1:00:50 - Advice to take better landscape photos 1:03:50 - Favorite place in the West 1:05:30 - Tyler’s request of the listeners 1:09:50 - Connect with Tyler online

1hr 12mins

7 Feb 2017

Rank #5

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Jessica Lewis - Doing More With Less

Jessica Lewis is a Montana-based metalsmith who is best known for the beautifully unique jewelry she creates for her online shop, Ruby and Revolver. She is also the mother of a two-year-old daughter, who she is raising with her husband in the home they constructed with their own hands in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. Thanks to her tireless work ethic and disciplined creativity, Jessica has built an authentic and full life around the things she loves most-- her family, her craft, and Western landscapes. Montana’s rugged mountains and valleys have been a part of Jessica’s life for as long as she can remember, and even though she has traveled widely, she has always returned to Big Sky Country. The Rocky Mountain landscapes inform many aspects of her work, as does her ethic of “doing more with less.” By American standards, she and her family embrace a purposefully minimalist lifestyle which allows Jessica to focus on quality over quantity in both her professional and personal endeavors. In our world of constant connectivity and endless distraction, I’m truly inspired by Jessica’s genuine and mindful approach toward living a simple yet rich and meaningful life. Jessica was kind enough to take a break from her numerous projects for this fun conversation about her life, creative process, and love of Montana. We chatted about how she got her start making jewelry and how the impending birth of her daughter inspired her to pursue art full time. We talked about how she began making jewelry with the simplest of tools, and how the desire for fancy equipment can distract from the act of making art. We talk a lot about parenthood, and Jessica explains how becoming a mother shifted her perspectives on work and life. We discuss our shared appreciation for Stoic philosophy, and how several specific books have impacted Jessica’s creativity. We talk about the importance of international travel and wisdom gained from spending time abroad. And as usual, we discuss favorite books about the West, the best advice she’s ever received, and several of her unexpected hobbies. I really loved the conversation and know you will too. Thanks again to Jessica for taking the time to chat. Enjoy! https://mountainandprairie.com/jessica-lewis/ https://rubyandrevolver.com https://mountainandprairie.com/support/ TOPICS DISCUSSED: 3:40 - How Jessica describes her work 5:00 - Jessica’s jewelry described 7:00 - Embracing the rawness of her work 8:50 - Materials used for her jewelry 10:30 - Why she was drawn to metalworking 12:15 - Starting out with simple tools 14:30 - Importance of her studio 17:00 - Making the leap into full-time art 19:45 - The bravery to pursue artistic dreams 22:50 - How kids change parents’ perspectives 23:45 - Creative mentors and influences 25:50 - Books that have influenced creativity 29:30 - Daily routines 30:55 - Importance of exercise 31:50 - Living in the Bitterroot Valley 32:45 - Growing up in Montana 35:30 - International travels 36:45 - Lessons learned from international travel 39:00 - “Doing more with less" 42:00 - Ed’s weird story about accumulating junk 44:00 - More on parenthood and its effects 46:10 - Advice to new parents 48:30 - Current project of building a new house by hand 52:00 - Jessica’s healthy relationship with technology 57:15 - Advice to aspiring creatives 59:50 - Favorite books 1:03:25 - Favorite films 1:05:30 - Surprising activities 1:07:00 - Favorite location in the West 1:08:30 - Best advice received 1:10:30 - Request of the listeners 1:11:50 - Connect with Jessica online

1hr 14mins

13 Apr 2019

Rank #6

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Dan Flores - Chronicling the West’s Rich Natural History

Dan Flores is a writer, historian, and former professor whose work explores the connections between people and the natural world in the American West. His most recent books—Coyote America and American Serengeti—are two of the most enlightening and informative books on the West’s natural history that I have ever read. The former is a biography of the coyote, a surprisingly fascinating animal with a rich and severely misunderstood history. The latter explores the last big mammals of the great plains—pronghorn, coyotes, horses, grizzlies, bison, and wolves—and also gives a great overview of North American big history. • It’s clear that Dan was a wonderful professor, because as you’ll hear in this episode, he has a real knack for explaining complicated subjects in a way that’s understandable, engaging, and exciting. This conversation gave me a glimpse into what it must have been like to be a student in Dan’s class at the University of Montana—I walked away from it full of new knowledge, and it whet my appetite to dig deeper into the many subjects we covered. • I could’ve asked Dan questions for hours and hours, but in our relatively short time together we managed to cover a lot. We start by discussing the coyote—how and why the animal has been so misunderstood, its similarities to humans, how it has managed to thrive despite efforts to totally eradicate the species, and the varying pronunciations of the word coyote. Then we discuss horses—the misconception that they are a non-native species in North America, their evolutionary history around the world, and some modern-day challenges facing the West's few remaining wild horses. We also talk about Dan’s childhood in Louisiana, his current home in New Mexico, his favorite books on the American West, and much, much more. • This is an excellent episode and I’m excited for you to listen. If you haven’t already, buy Coyote America and American Serengeti—I can promise you’ll love them both. ••• http://mountainandprairie.com/dan-flores/ ••• TOPICS DISCUSSED: 3:00 - How Dan describes his work 4:10 - History of the pronunciation of “Coyote” 7:30 - Coyote’s historical reputation 11:00 - Coyote’s historical status in Native American lore 12:30 - Mark Twain’s influence on the coyotes’ image 14:05 - Coyotes as humans’ avatars 16:15 - Fission and fusion in coyotes 18:00 - Coyotes' ability to control their reproduction 22:20 - Dan’s thoughts on the current attempted Federal Land grab 28:45 - Misconception that horses are non-native 34:30 - Current issues with horses in the United States 37:55 - Dan’s thoughts on the BLM Wild Mustang Program 40:15 - Dan’s early years in Louisiana 43:00 - First trip to Carlsbad Caverns 45:20 - Dan’s passionate love of desert 48:55 - Living in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley 51:00 - Changes in Montana during Dan’s time there 55:00 - "In Defense of the Ranchette” article 1:01:45 - Favorite books about the American West 1:08:00 - Most powerful experience outdoors 1:09:20 - Favorite place in the West 1:11:30 - Dan’s request of the listeners 1:15:45 - Connect with Dan

1hr 18mins

1 Sep 2017

Rank #7

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Matt Skoglund - Adventures in Bison Ranching

Matt Skoglund and his wife Sarah are bison ranchers and the owners of the North Bridger Bison Ranch, which is located in Montana's iconic Shields Valley. The Skoglund's bison operation is deeply rooted in Holistic Management and Regenerative Agriculture principles, and their goal is to produce healthy and delicious meat, while simultaneously improving the land, helping the environment, and contributing to Montana's economy. Through hard work and genuine curiosity, Matt has found his life's true calling in bison ranching—a challenging yet deeply rewarding business that combines so many of Matt's passions into one dream job. By now, you may be assuming that Matt comes from a western ranching family or perhaps holds agriculture degrees from a land-grant university. But the reality is that Matt grew up in the Chicago area, attended college in the northeast, then law school, then began a career as an attorney in the litigation department of a large Chicago law firm. After several years of practicing law, he and Sarah could no longer resist the desire to move West, so they took a leap of faith and moved to Bozeman. Matt found a job with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), where he worked for nearly ten years, digging deep into many conservation issues that affect the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, including bison. Finally, in 2018, after several years of dreaming and planning, they pulled the trigger, bought some land, and started their adventure in bison ranching. Matt and Sarah's story is inspiring and instructive, especially for those who have dreams of pursuing lives and careers in the West. Instead of jumping all over the place like I normally do, this conversation is pretty much split into two main sections. The first half covers all the details about North Bridger Bison, how they acquired the ranch, their process of field harvesting the meat, who their customers are, and some of the biggest surprises of running their own business. The second half covers some broader personal topics, such as how being a father has affected Matt's outlook, why he was able to walk away from a lucrative career in law, and the life lessons learned from being a college hockey player. Whether you are strictly interested in agriculture or only interested in people's personal evolutions, there are aspects of the Skoglund's journey that will be fascinating to both groups. Be sure the check the episode notes for a list of everything we discussed. Hope you enjoy! --- https://mountainandprairie.com/matt-skoglund/ --- TOPICS DISCUSSED: 4:00 - The location of the ranch 5:45 - Why they chose the Shields Valley 8:15 - Details around purchasing the ranch 12:30 - Genesis of the bison ranch idea 14:30 - Books that shaped Matt's business philosophy 16:00 - Transitioning from dreaming about ranching to doing it 18:15 - Criteria when searching for land 22:45 - Collaboration among bison ranchers 25:30 - Details of field harvesting bison 30:40 - Biggest surprises of bison ranching 36:00 - How past professional experiences inform bison ranching 37:00 - Lessons learned from stressful situations 39:30 - Transition from the law to conservation 42:00 - Moving to Bozeman 43:00 - Getting off the big law firm "treadmill" 44:50 - Where Matt got his independent streak 47:30 - Lessons learned from high-level athletics 49:30 - How having kids changed Matt's life and perspective 54:30 - Three specific heroes and mentors 58:45 - Aldo Leopold obsession 1:00:15 - Favorite books ---- ABOUT MOUNTAIN & PRAIRIE: Mountain & Prairie Podcast Mountain & Prairie on Instagram Upcoming Events About Ed Roberson Support Mountain & Prairie

1hr 4mins

6 Nov 2019

Rank #8

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Robert Krapfel - On Living A Purpose-Driven Life

Robert Krapfel is a US Forest Service smokejumper—a member of the elite team of wildland firefighters who parachute into remote, burning landscapes to control some of our country’s most intense forest fires. Prior to joining the smokejumpers, Robert was a fish biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, where he worked on restoring several species of fish in the lower Colorado River system. You may also know Robert as the husband of my previous guest Jillian Lukiwski, and if so, you’ve likely admired stunning photographs of them fishing, hunting, and exploring far-flung corners of the American West. Growing up in Northern California, Robert was always focused on pushing himself hard in the outdoors, learning new skills, and establishing a sense of self-sufficiency in wild places. As a teenager, he taught himself to fish and hunt, and early in his career, he learned how to operate heavy machinery while rebuilding a remote government satellite station in the Arizona desert. Robert’s intense curiosity and action-oriented mindset have allowed him to build a life centered around adventure and rugged landscapes, while simultaneously being of service to our country and stewarding the forests of the West. Because Robert has almost no social media presence, not many people outside his immediate circle of friends and family truly grasp what a unique life he leads, nor do they understand the vital role he played in the creation of Jillian’s blog and jewelry business, the Noisy Plume. Robert and Jillian are true partners in every sense of the word, and their approach to business, adventure, and living an authentic, purpose-driven life can be instructive for couples and individuals alike. They pursue their goals as a team and have sacrificed much along the way to turn their dreams into realities. Robert is a perfect guest for this podcast, because his career and interests touch on almost everything that fascinates me—the West, adventure, service, creativity, hunting, fishing, travel, conservation, ecology, and plenty more. We obviously cover a lot in this episode, including the ins and outs of his becoming a smokejumper and his scariest experience while fighting fires. We discuss his work as a fish biologist, and how he and Jillian spent a year living in the Arizona desert in a rat-infested trailer. Robert also has a unique educational background, which we discuss in detail. And of course we talk about the creation of the Noisy Plume, and how Jillian’s and his vision for the project has evolved over time. And for a podcast that is always heavy on book recommendations, this episode is particularly full of good titles. This is a great episode, so I know you’ll enjoy it. As I mentioned, Robert isn’t on social media, but you can catch glimpses of him every now and then on Jillian’s Instagram account, so be sure to follow her at @thenoisyplume. Enjoy! Visit the webpage at http://mountainandprairie.com/robert-krapfel/ for a full list of topics discussed.

1hr 22mins

6 Feb 2018

Rank #9

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Camrin Dengel – Slow Living in the American West

Camrin Dengel is a professional lifestyle photographer who lives and works on the quiet side of the Teton Mountain Range in Teton Valley, Idaho. Her work focuses on a broad range of subjects, with an emphasis on sustainable agriculture, hunting, fishing, and life in and around her mountain community. In her work and leisure, Camrin is a devoted proponent of slow living, and she strives to approach her profession and life in a manner that is intentional, simple, meaningful, and positive. • Growing up in Valdez, Alaska gave Camrin a unique perspective and toughness (she calls it “stubbornness”) that have allowed her to pursue her passion for art full time, while staying true to her ideals and enjoying a slow-living lifestyle. She attended college on a running scholarship with the intention of becoming an engineer, but decided midway through that art and photography were her true calling. After graduation, she moved straight to Teton Valley where she has built a life and business centered around documenting the people and places that make the American West such a special place to live. • I’ve spent a lot of time in Teton Valley and can honestly say that Camrin’s work captures the landscapes and lifestyle more authentically than any artist I’ve ever seen. She is obviously a talented photographer, but she is also a super-interesting person who has managed to sidestep a good deal of the “busyness” and distractions that dominate many of our lives. In our conversation, we discuss her career trajectory, and also her love for the community of Teton Valley. We dig deep into the idea of slow living, and she offers some thoughts on ways for people to adopt a slower, more intentional lifestyle. As usual, we discuss favorite books, documentaries, and challenges and opportunities facing the American West. • This is a really fun episode full of lots of great info. Be sure to check out the episode notes for links to everything we discuss. Hope you enjoy! ••• http://mountainandprairie.com/camrin-dengel/ ••• TOPICS DISCUSSED: 2:30 - How Camrin describes her work 3:50 - Good example of Camrin’s work 5:30 - Teton Valley explained 7:25 - How she ended up in Teton Valley 8:30 - Transition from adventure photography to lifestyle 9:50 - Thoughts on slow living 10:45 - Ways to live slowly as effortlessly as possible 13:25 - Being intentional with social media 14:20 - Advice for adopting a slower lifestyle 15:30 - Growing up in Alaska 16:35 - Unique aspects of growing up in Alaska 18:50 - How Alaska shaped Camrin’s perspective 20:05 - College years in California 21:15 - From engineer student to artist 23:15 - Time with the Alaska Marine Conservation Council 24:35 - Similarities between fisherman, ranchers, and farmers 27:10 - Camrin’s definition of conservation 28:00 - Thoughts on fishing and hunting 31:45 - How Camrin developed the confidence to follow her passion 33:15 - Role models and mentors 35:10 - Other possible career paths 36:45 - Advice to aspiring photographers 39:00 - Photography advice 40:30 - Book recomendations 41:20 - Slow living resources 42:45 - Favorite documentaries 44:20 - Surprising activities 48:00 - Favorite place 49:20 - Ideas for off the beaten path experiences in Alaska 51:00 - The insanity of the Mt. Marathon 55:15 - Biggest challenge facing the American West 57:30 - Request of the listeners 58:50 - Connect with Camrin online

1hr 1min

23 Nov 2016

Rank #10

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Connor Coleman - How to Build a Meaningful Life in the West

Connor Coleman is the founder of Resiliency Lands, a progressive, conservation-minded land management and advisory group committed to promoting ecological and resource resiliency. Prior to starting Resiliency Lands, he held a variety of positions closely connected to the land, jobs that would be on the wish-list of anyone who loves adventure and the American West—wildland firefighter, cowboy, bison manager, and conservationist, just to name a few. Connor is currently based in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley, and he resides on a spectacular ranch just outside of Carbondale. • You may be surprised to learn that Connor was not born and raised in the West or on ranches. On the contrary, he grew up in Ohio, went to college in North Carolina, and after paying his dues in east coast conservation and earning two master’s degrees from Duke, he headed West to focus his energy on western landscapes. Thanks to an insatiable curiosity, a rock-solid work ethic, a service mindset, and a willingness to insert himself into new and uncomfortable situations, Connor has carved out a professional niche for himself in Colorado doing rewarding, exciting, and important work. • Connor’s education and unconventional career path can serve as a great blueprint for anyone who loves the American West and wants a life centered around land, conservation, and natural resources. When I was in my early twenties, I would’ve loved to meet a guy like Connor who could point me in the right direction. So in this episode, we talk in depth about his career and his ability to “put himself out there” to create exciting professional opportunities. We dig deep into his thoughts on conservation in the West, as well as issues related to forest fires throughout the country. Connor loves to read and learn, so he also has tons of great book and film recommendations. • We cover a ridiculous amount of information, so be sure to check out the episode notes for the full list of topics we discuss. Enjoy! ••• http://mountainandprairie.com/connor-coleman/ ••• TOPICS DISCUSSED 2:32 - How Connor describes his work 3:55 - Importance of conserving working ranches 7:55 - Grazing as an important part of conservation 13:40 - Examples of some of Resiliency Land’s projects 16:35 - Where did Connor grow up? 18:50 - Connor’s decision to make conservation a career 22:45 - Brief history of NC barbecue 25:00 - Early career in conservation 29:10 - Grad school at Duke 30:30 - Difference between conservation in NC versus CO 32:20 - How easterners misunderstand public lands in the west 33:30 - Time as a wildland firefighter 36:30 - Fire policy in the east versus west 40:00 - Longleaf pine book recommendations 41:15 - Adventures at Camp Lejeune 42:20 - Moving out west to work on ranches 45:40 - Challenges of adjusting to the demands of ranch work 48:30 - Working with bison on the Zapata Ranch 49:50 - Bison and bison book recommendations 55:20 - Transition to the Aspen Valley Land Trust 59:20 - Lesson learned working in conservation in different parts of country 1:01:20 - Thoughts on service and giving back to the community 1:06:15 - Favorite books about the American West 1:10:15 - Favorite films 1:12:50 - Surprising activities 1:14:35 - Craziest experience in the outdoors 1:18:45 - Favorite place in the West 1:20:20 - Biggest challenge facing the West 1:23:00 - Connor’s request of the listeners 1:25:15 - Connect with Connor online 1:25:55 - Bonus book recommendations!

1hr 30mins

22 Dec 2016

Rank #11

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Teal Blake - On Being Authentic & Original

If you love art and the American West, chances are you’re already a fan of Teal Blake. His paintings of bucking horses, working cowboys, and the Western ranching lifestyle are some of the most authentic and creative around. Teal's art is authentically Western because he’s so authentically Western—he has worked on ranches for all of his life, has ridden rodeo on the professional level, and has been making art since before he can remember. These unique life experiences, combined with a deep-seated drive to create original and striking art, meld together to make him one of the most genuine and fresh faces in Western art today. Teal grew up in Augusta, Montana, the son of two creative parents who allowed him to roam free—fishing, hunting, and exploring the wilderness out his backdoor. During high school, he discovered his talent for bull riding and rodeo, and he pursued that passion for years, eventually competing on the professional circuit. Throughout all of his various adventures and life stages, Teal was continuously sketching and painting, and after several impressive showings at western art shows, he decided to make a go of it as a professional artist. Since then he hasn’t looked back, and his stature in the Western art world continues to grow. We had an in-depth conversation in which we discussed Teal’s upbringing in Montana and Idaho, and how his artistic parents influenced his life and work. We chatted about his experience at art school, which ended with him flunking out, yet being the only one from his class to actually make it as a professional artist. We discuss his background in ranching and rodeo, and his process of transitioning into life as a professional artist. We also talk about the important role that external validation can play in a solitary creative endeavor such as painting. As usual, we discuss favorite books, favorite films, and his favorite place in the American West. We cover a lot in this episode, so be sure to check out the episode notes for all the topics and links to everything we discuss. Enjoy! http://mountainandprairie.com/teal-blake/ TOPICS DISCUSSED 2:45 - How Teal describes his work 3:33 - Process of becoming a professional artist 5:00 - Teal’s childhood in Montana 7:55 - Teal’s parents and their influence on him 9:35 - Early artistic influences 11:20 - Early artistic endeavors 12:00 - Move to Idaho and rodeo beginnings 14:55 - Decision to stop riding bulls 17:40 - Teal’s experience at college art school 21:30 - Transition from rodeo to full-time artist 24:00 - Teal’s first art show 28:00 - Teal’s daily routine and artistic phases 31:05 - Ranch work and its influence on Teal’s work 35:25 - Teal’s attraction to bucking animals — painting and riding them 38:20 - Biggest changes in Teal’s art over the past 10 years 40:33 - Challenge of creating new and original work 43:00 - Thoughts on the business of professional art 48:20 - Favorite books 52:10 - Importance of being humbled 53:10 - Raising kids in the internet age 56:50 - Favorite films 58:40 - Surprising hobbies 1:01:00 - Great advice Teal has received 1:02:15 - Favorite place in the West 1:05:50 - Teal’s advice to the listeners 1:07:45 - Connect with Teal online 1:08:10 - Chappin’!!

1hr 13mins

11 Aug 2017

Rank #12

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Bryce Andrews - People, Predators, and the American West

Bryce Andrews is a Montana-based rancher, conservationist, and author whose unique set of experiences gives him uncommon insights into the relationship between humans and carnivores in the West. Having worked as a ranch hand, ranch manager, and ranch owner, Bryce understands agriculture and the myriad of challenges faced by producers. As Field Director at the non-profit People and Carnivores, he has gained first-hand knowledge of the predicaments facing large predators in the Rockies. And as an author, he has researched and written extensively about all sides of the issue-- most notably in his books “Badluck Way” and his new book “Down from the Mountain,” which was published earlier this week. Bryce grew up in Seattle, far removed from ranching, farming, and the arid ruggedness of the Rocky Mountain West. But soon after college, he landed an entry-level job at the 20,000-acre Sun Ranch, located in Montana’s spectacular Upper Madison River Valley. On the Sun Ranch, Bryce received a trial-by-fire education in the sometimes-problematic relationship between agriculture and wild animals, a relationship he has spent much of his professional career exploring. The latest manifestation of this exploration is “Down from the Mountain,” an educational, entertaining, and sometimes-heartbreaking book that explores specific interactions between grizzly bears and farms in Montana’s Mission Valley. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of this book and cannot recommend it enough. If you are familiar with this podcast and the topics that I love to discuss, then you know that Bryce is a perfect guest. He’s smart, funny, insightful, and has a real gift for explaining complex, sometimes controversial topics in an engaging way. We talked a lot about “Down from the Mountain,” discussing grizzlies, farming, and the unique location and topography of the Mission Valley. We talk about Bryce’s upbringing in Seattle, and what drove him to explore the West after college. We discuss his work with People and Carnivores, and how his background in agriculture helps him to span the divide between his organization and the farming and ranching communities. Bryce also explains his writing and research process and offers some excellent advice for aspiring authors. And as usual, we spend a lot of time discussing books, authors, and his most powerful outdoor experience. I encourage you to find a copy of “Down from the Mountain” and give it a read. You will not be disappointed. Episode Notes: https://mountainandprairie.com/bryce-andrews/ TOPICS DISCUSSED 4:00 - Bryce describes his work 5:20 - How Bryce started ranching 6:30 - First experiences ranching 7:20 - Heading to the Rockies after college 9:00 - Getting a hand-hold in ranching 10:30 - Culture shock of the West 13:50 - First encounter with carnivores 16:30 - Primal thrill of wildlife encounters 17:30 - Work with People and Carnivores 20:00 - Finding common ground in the carnivore controversies 25:00 - “Down from the Mountain” 29:00 - Mission Valley explained 34:00 - Similarities between humans and grizzlies 37:30 - Unexpected tension of bears in a cornfield 41:20 - Bryce’s history as a writer 42:50 - Favorite/important writers 46:30 - Bryce’s relationship with writing 50:00 - Writing, the flow state, and fear 52:00 - Intense life events versus the boring “real world” 56:15 - Advice for aspiring writers 59:45 - Favorite books about the West 1:01:50 - Most powerful outdoor experience 1:03:30 - Request of the listeners 1:05:30 - Connect with Bryce

1hr 8mins

19 Apr 2019

Rank #13

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Peter Heller - Chasing the Flow

Peter Heller is a renowned novelist, as well as an award-winning adventure writer and former contributing editor to "Outside," "Men’s Journal," and "National Geographic Adventure." Since age eleven, Peter has been committed to the craft of writing, and his lifelong love of words and stunning prose are the threads that connect all of his work– from fiction to non-fiction to poetry. His most recent novel, "The River," is the culmination of Peter’s decades of storytelling– the book weaves a masterful tale that combines adventure, deep friendships, wild places, chilling violence, and page-turning suspense. [For those of you who subscribe to my bimonthly book recommendations email, you may remember that I devoured the book in less than two days and absolutely loved it!] Peter was born, raised, and educated on the east coast but headed West soon after college to paddle rivers and immerse himself in the wide-open spaces of the American West. His writing career has taken him to some of the most far-flung corners of the earth. Still, he always returns to the Rockies, where he currently splits his time between Denver and Paonia, a rural community on Colorado’s Western Slope. The people and landscapes of the West play prominent roles in all of Peter’s novels, and his talent for capturing the beauty and complexity of people and wild places is second to none. We met up at Peter’s home in Denver and had a fun, wide-ranging conversation covering everything from his early obsession with writing to his current writing process to our mutual love of surfing. We discuss his first big paddling trip in Colorado, which started his decades-long love affair with the West. We talk about his early days as a professional writer– discussing everything from how he made it work financially to how he dealt with rejection. We dig into the specifics of his daily writing routine, and why he stops writing at 1,000 words, even if he is mid-scene. We also talk about how he avoids thinking when writing novels, his obsession with “finding the flow” in writing and outdoor pursuits, the importance of momentum, and balancing physical exuberance with the writer’s life. If you love Peter’s books, the West, or learning about writers, you will love this episode. And as a special bonus, I’m giving away a copy of "The River" via Instagram. On Friday, January 3, 2020, I’ll post all the details, so head to my Instagram page, give me a follow, and be on the lookout for the giveaway. You can either search by my name- Ed Roberson- or follow this link. "The River" was one of the best books I read in 2019, so I know you’ll enjoy it too. Thanks again to Peter for being so generous with his time and so insightful with his answers. I hope you enjoy! -- More Episode Notes: https://mountainandprairie.com/peter-heller/ Instagram Book Giveaway: https://www.instagram.com/mtnprairie/ Bimonthly Book Recommendations Email: http://mountainandprairie.com/reading/ --- TOPICS DISCUSSED: 5:00 - Where Peter grew up 6:30 - Deciding to be a writer at 11-years old 10:00 - Specific disciplines to become a writer 10:40 - Peter’s parents’ backgrounds and their influence 13:30 - Peter’s love of writing as a career 14:50 - Childhood adventures 15:40 - Falling in love with the West 18:30 - Starting out as a writer 21:00 - Dealing with early rejections 22:50 - First published story 25:00 - “Not thinking” while writing fiction 29:00 - Starting Dog Stars 31:30 - Peter’s method - 1,000 words per day 36:00 - The inevitability of Peter’s stories 38:30 - Winslow Homer paintings and other real-life influences [Click to see "The Gulf Stream" painting] 41:45 - Importance of confidence and craftsmanship in writing 46:50 - Importance of momentum 49:00 - Love of entering "the zone” through writing, surfing, fishing, and more. 51:30 - Peter’s love for Paonia 55:00 - Surfing! 1:02:15 - Favorite books 1:04:00 - Favorite location in the West 1:05:45 - Best advice ever received ---- ABOUT MOUNTAIN & PRAIRIE: Mountain & Prairie Podcast Mountain & Prairie on Instagram Upcoming Events About Ed Roberson Support Mountain & Prairie

1hr 11mins

31 Dec 2019

Rank #14

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Melissa DiNino - Building a Unique Life in Big Sky Country

Melissa DiNino is a biologist, artist, and designer who currently lives and works in Montana’s legendary Tom Miner Basin. A native easterner, Melissa moved West soon after college to work as a range rider-- a job that involves monitoring livestock on horseback in an effort to encourage the successful coexistence of livestock and apex predators in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In her role as a range rider, Melissa developed a deep appreciation for Montana’s spectacular landscapes, the challenging relationship between people and predators, and the importance of compassionate communication between all stakeholders. • Melissa grew up in Connecticut, and developed an early love of adventure and the outdoors while spending time at her family’s cabin in Maine. She’s also a committed athlete and played competitive basketball from age five through college. As you’ll hear, Melissa is humble and soft spoken, but she has a track record of pushing herself hard, both in academics and athletics, as well as in her present-day professional work and art. Although only in her mid-20s, Melissa is wise beyond her years and is committed to doing meaningful work in a place that she loves, surrounded by a supportive community… and she’s making it happen in an inspiring way. • I know regular listeners will really enjoy this conversation, but it will be especially valuable to anyone who is in the early stages of their career, looking to do work that is meaningful and fulfilling. Melissa and I discuss her path to Montana, as well as some of the challenges and funny mishaps of adjusting to life in the West. We talk about the realities of piecing together a variety of different jobs and artistic endeavors, while remaining focused on the big picture of doing work that matters. We chat about lessons learned from athletics, the value of being competitive with oneself, and importance of being willing to “put yourself out there” in creative pursuits. We also dig into some details around wolves, grizzlies, and the importance of civil discourse when discussing emotional subjects like wolves. And as usual, we talk about favorite books, films, and places in the West. Links to everything are in the episode notes. •Thanks so much for listening, and I hope you enjoy this conversation with Melissa DiNino! ••• Notes: http://mountainandprairie.com/melissa-dinino/ https://www.melissadinino.com ••• 3:30 - How Melissa describes her work 4:50 - Range riding explained 9:30 - Balancing grazing and predators 11:15 - The human element of range riding 13:00 - How Melissa started range riding 14:45 - Transition to Montana 16:15 - Embarrassing Montana story 19:45 - Growing up in Connecticut 20:30 - Adventures in Maine 21:30 - Parents’ influence 24:10 - Basketball 25:55 - Competition and lessons learned from sports 29:00 - Why she chose to study wolves 32:25 - Tips for having tough conversations 36:00 - Stories of collaboration 37:30 - Crazy stories from range riding 38:45 - Books about wolves 42:00 - Background in design 43:15 - Art and watercolors 46:10 - Artistic mentors 48:00 - Future plans 50:00 - Mentors 51:20 - Favorite books 53:00 - Favorite films 54:00 - Weird hobbies 55:20 - Most powerful outdoor experience 1:01:00 - Favorite location in the West 1:02:00 - Request of the listeners 1:02:50 - Connect with Melissa online

1hr 6mins

11 Jan 2019

Rank #15

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Hal Herring - A Man of Words & Wild Places

Hal Herring is an award-winning journalist and writer whose work has appeared in such notable publications as the Atlantic, the Economist, and Orion.  He is also a contributing editor at Field and Stream and a regular contributor to High Country News. Most recently, Hal has made a name for himself in the podcast world as the host of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers’ popular podcast, called the Podcast & Blast with Hal Herring. If there’s one common thread that runs through Hal’s prolific and wide-ranging career, it’s a love of the West, its people, and its public lands. I’ve long admired Hal and specifically his refusal to be boxed in by any particular political party or close-minded ideologies. He could be considered progressive on some issues and conservative on others, but his opinions are always the result of a lot of deep thinking, extensive research, and thorough consideration. And as you’ll hear him say in this interview, he’s endlessly curious and always open to having his mind changed-- two characteristics that I personally admire and try my best to emulate, especially when it comes to issues here in the American West. Hal and I covered a lot in a little over an hour, and regular listeners will enjoy his depth and breadth of knowledge, as well as his unbridled passion for the West. We start by discussing his upbringing in Alabama and why he decided to move West. We talk a lot about books, and Hal offers up a massive selection of titles that have influenced his work, most of which have never before been mentioned on this podcast. We discuss the importance of journalism at this specific moment in history, and how he goes about finding the facts in today’s overwhelming deluge of media. We also chat about his work ethic, family, his current home in Augusta, Montana, his climbing and mountaineering adventures, and his recent success in the world of podcasts. There’s a lot to learn and digest in this episode, so be sure to check out the episode notes for links to everything. Also, I hope you enjoy the southern accents-- I think Hal really brought mine out in full force. Hope you enjoy! COMPLETE EPISODE NOTES: https://mountainandprairie.com/hal-herring/ TOPICS DISCUSSED: 3:05 - Growing up in Alabama 4:15 - Intro to Montana 5:50 - Deep love of Alabama 6:45 - Early years writing & traveling 9:30 - Source of Hal’s early wanderlust 11:35 - When Hal got serious about writing 15:00 - Importance of constraints 18:00 - How Hal’s work on public lands influences his journalism 20:45 - Decision to focus on public lands 22:10 - Need for real journalism 25:00 - Where does Hal get his news? 29:00 - Public land discussion 32:15 - Optimistic or pessimistic for the future of public lands? 36:30 - Mountaineering and climbing 41:15 - Having kids 44:00 - Hal’s foray into podcasting 48:15 - Most important books 50:50 - Connection with Teal Blake 55:30 - Importance of preparation and hard work 57:15 - Hal’s new book 1:00:30 - Favorite films 1:01:50 - Favorite location in the West 1:06:30 - Request of the listeners ---- ABOUT MOUNTAIN & PRAIRIE: Mountain & Prairie Podcast Mountain & Prairie on Instagram Upcoming Events About Ed Roberson Support Mountain & Prairie

1hr 12mins

16 Dec 2019

Rank #16

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Becca Skinner - Pursuing Her Passions in the West

Becca Skinner is a Bozeman-based photographer, writer, and adventurer whose work has taken her to some of the farthest corners of the globe. Growing up between Colorado and Wyoming, Becca was raised by adventurous and supportive parents who nurtured her love of the outdoors and her artistic endeavors. As a young woman, Becca's genuine interest in social work and helping the less fortunate led to her winning grants to photograph post-Katrina New Orleans and post-tsunami Sumatra. Those experiences, and the body of work they produced, allowed Becca to pursue her passion of photography full time, and her career continues to grow and evolve in exciting ways. • As you’ll hear, Becca has been willing to be single-mindedly focused and take calculated risks to “make it” as a professional photographer. When she did not win a National Geographic Young Explorers Grant the first time she applied, she dusted herself off, re-focused her efforts, and was successful on her second try. After saving enough money, she struck out alone on a 32,000-mile road trip through the American West, living in her car, honing her craft, and continuing to build her portfolio. She has devised methods for staying positive in immensely uncomfortable situations, such as a cold, wet expedition in Vancouver’s coastal backcountry, which we discuss in detail. Despite her success, Becca remains humble and down to earth, and we had a very fun conversation. • We covered a wide range of subjects-- we discussed her childhood in the West and how her family played such a formative role in shaping her career and life. We chatted about her experiences in New Orleans and Sumatra, and how the disaster victims' attitudes toward the catastrophes varied so widely. We discussed her first road trip throughout the West and how she handled being alone for such long stretches. We also talked about the importance of having solid expedition teammates and the challenges of integrating back into day-to-day life after an intense trip. And of course, we covered favorite books, films, and the best advice she’s ever received. • If you don’t already, be sure to follow Becca on Instagram and other social media. Links to everything are in the episode notes. Enjoy! ••• ••• Topics Discussed: 2:50 - How Becca describes her work 3:25 - How Becca describes her photography 4:00 - Growing up in the West 5:15 - Early experiences in the outdoors with her parents 7:30 - First interest in photography 8:40 - Interest in social work and outdoor therapy 11:15 - Post-Katrina New Orleans and takeaways 16:00 - Nat Geo Young Explorers Grant 20:00 - Experience in Sumatra 21:30 - Different attitudes between New Orleans and Sumatra crisis responses 24:00 - Considering photography as a career 25:00 - Leaving on the 32,000-mile road trip 26:15 - Becca’s supportive parents 28:00 - Solitary time in Yosemite 33:20 - Early career 36:30 - End of the road trip 39:15 - Settling in Bozeman 41:20 - Wolves and Yellowstone 44:10 - Spending more nights outdoors than indoors 46:45 - Keeping a positive attitude in tough conditions 48:30 - Picking expedition partners 50:15 - Hardest expedition 53:20 - Being Here film 55:20 - Importance of public lands 57:50 - Favorite books 59:45 - Favorite films 1:00:50 - Unexpected hobbies 1:02:45 - Most powerful outdoor experience 1:04:15 - Favorite location in the West 1:06:00 - Request of the listeners 1:07:05 - Connect with Becca online

1hr 9mins

13 Apr 2018

Rank #17

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Live in Bozeman - Cate Havstad, Jillian Lukiwski, Becca Skinner & Juanita Vero

This episode is a special recording from a Mountain & Prairie live podcast in Bozeman, Montana. On August 30th more than 300 folks gathered at the historic Ellen Theatre in downtown Bozeman to watch, listen, and participate in a wide-ranging conversation with four amazing women of the West—hat-maker and farmer Cate Havstad; silversmith and all-around artist Jillian Lukiwski; adventure photographer and writer Becca Skinner; and rancher and county commissioner Juanita Vero. We also held a raffle that benefited the Montana Land Reliance and the critical conservation work it is doing throughout the state of Montana. The show started out with a hilarious, high-energy welcome from the amazing Becca Frucht, who is one of the funniest and most unique human beings I’ve ever met. Then I spent about an hour and fifteen minutes asking the women questions about their lives, work, and shared love of western landscapes. After that, we had some excellent questions from the audience, followed by a few words from the Jessie Weisse from the Montana Land Reliance. As you’ll hear, a good bit of our conversation centered around the land, conservation, and agriculture, so it was very fitting that the Montana Land Reliance was such an important part of the evening. My only complaint about the event is that I wish it could’ve been much longer—as you’d expect, we only scratched the surface of all the fascinating topics we could’ve discussed. A heartfelt thank you to Cate, Jillian, Becca, and Juanita for being so open, thoughtful, and funny with all of their answers—the evening would not have been even a fraction of the success it was without their participation. Thanks to Becca Frucht for her energizing welcome and for figuring out a way to work Road House into her remarks. Thank you to the Montana Land Reliance for all of their important work throughout the state and for being part of the evening. A huge thanks to our sponsors—Chris Dombrowski Fly Fishing, Tom Morgan Rodsmiths, Onda Wellness, Modern Huntsman, Beargrass Writing Retreat, Heyday, Head West Bozeman, and Big Agnes. And last but definitely not least, thanks to everyone who attended the event—I know we had people travel to Bozeman from many other states and even Canada for the show, so I can’t thank you all enough for being such important members of this podcast community. It was truly a night to remember, and I’m excited to do more live shows in 2020, so stay tuned for that. But in the meantime, enjoy this audio version of the Mountain & Prairie Podcast, live in Bozeman! Notes and photos: https://mountainandprairie.com/bozeman-live/ MLR: http://mtlandreliance.org TOPICS DISCUSSED: 3:30 - Welcome from the great Becca Frucht 8:30 - A few words from Ed 11:30 - Quick intros 13:00 - Update on Cate’s involvement in farming 15:30- Juanita’s entrance into county politics 20:00 - Jillian’s evolving connection to her place 21:00 - Becca’s immersion in private land conservation 27:30 - Juanita’s thoughts on private land conservation 32:00 - Jillian discusses the importance of hard work and adventure in wild places 35:30 - Cate discusses the business realities of farming 44:00 - Jillian and Becca talk about “putting herself out there” 47:30 - Using social media productively 50:00 - Other places the ladies would choose to live 55:30 - Best books read in the past year 1:01:30 - How their husbands/partners bolster them as individuals 1:06:30 - Jillian’s “Big Enough Theory” 1:12:00 - Q&A - Mentors and mentoring 1:17:00 - Q&A - Roots to the past in the women’s trades 1:20:30 - Q&A - Role of horses in the ladies lives 1:28:00 - Q&A - Balancing development and conservation in Montana 1:35:30 - Q&A - How do we connect people with their food 1:40:15 - A few words from the Montana Land Reliance

1hr 42mins

13 Sep 2019

Rank #18

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Charles Post - Stewardship, Science & Storytelling

Charles Post is an academically trained ecologist with a gift for communicating complex and sometimes emotionally charged issues in a thoughtful manner to diverse audiences. Whether he’s discussing the intricacies of ranch management, the ecological implications of ethical hunting, or controversies surrounding the BLM’s wild mustang program, Charles has honed his ability to consider all sides of issues, then educate the public in a style that is positive, comprehensive, and intellectually honest. His academic credentials, combined with his photography, writing, filmmaking, and popular social media channels have made Charles a rising star in the world of conservation. • Born and raised in northern California, Charles has enjoyed a deep connection with Western landscapes for as long as he can remember. He grew up hunting, fishing, and exploring the seascapes and mountain ranges of the West Coast, then earned both a Bachelors and Masters in ecology from UC Berkeley. After considering pursuing a PhD followed by a career in academia, Charles changed course and pursued a less traditional track that melded his two passions of science and storytelling. Since then, he has settled in Bozeman, Montana where he works on a wide range of projects that all tie back into conservation and stewardship in the American West. • Charles and I talked for well over an hour, and could’ve easily continued for several more. We discuss his recent work for Filson covering Ranchlands, a progressive, forward-thinking ranching operation in southern Colorado. We also chat about the ecological importance of ranching for Western landscapes and the progress that Charles has made trying to change some of the unfounded negative impressions of ranching and livestock. We talk about his recent elk hunt, and how that adventure was one of the richest, most meaningful experiences of his life. Charles speaks fondly about his relationship with Ben Masters, who helped him break into the filmmaking world. It also turns out that we have a shared love of the American Dipper (which is a bird, for those of you out of the loop), and we nerd out on that subject for a few minutes. As usual, we discuss favorite books, films, and the best advice he’s ever received. • If you’re a long-time listener, you will love this episode… and if you’re brand new, I hope you will, too! Be sure to check out Charles on Instagram at charles_post and check the episode notes for everything we discuss. Enjoy! ••• http://mountainandprairie.com/charles-post/ ••• TOPICS DISCUSSED 3:00 - Charles’s introduction to Ben Masters 5:10 - How Charles describes his work 6:30 - Why Charles identifies as an ecologist 8:50 - Science versus communicating to the mainstream 10:30 - Charles experience with Ranchlands and thoughts on ranching 17:45 - How Charles tells the ranching story 20:45 - Resources for learning more about ranching 21:55 - Discussion about wolves' effects on Yellowstone 24:35 - Where Charles grew up 25:50 - Charles’ connection to Gifford Pinchot 29:40 - Hunting from a conservation perspective 32:25 - Modern Huntsman 35:15 - Interplay between public and private land 41:40 - How science shaped his ability to be objective 43:40 - His approach to social media 49:45 - The importance of Charles’s sponsors and supporters 54:30 - Charles’s personal history with hunting 1:01:40 - Favorite books 1:08:10 - Weird habits and quirks 1:09:30 - American Dipper nerd-fest 1:12:20 - Most powerful experience in the outdoors 1:16:00 - Best advice he’s ever received 1:19:25 - Charles’s request of the listeners 1:20:50 - Connect with Charles online

1hr 23mins

21 Nov 2017

Rank #19

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Stephen Smith - Adventures in Photography, Motorcycles, and Ranches

Stephen Smith is an agrarian, adventure, and lifestyle photographer who has successfully combined his love of ranches, farms, motorcycles, and travel into a full-time career in professional photography. Thanks to his artistic eye, hard work, persistence, and willingness to take risks, Stephen has successfully created a niche for himself in the crowded arena of professional photography. • He is obviously a naturally talented artist, but it seems that a great deal of Stephen's success can be traced back to the fact that he is committed to putting himself in unique—often difficult, uncomfortable, or scary—situations that allow him to capture one-of-a-kind experiences and perspectives. Among other things, he has worked on a 90,000-acre Colorado cattle ranch, taken a five-month solo motorcycle trip through South America, and put in time at several California and Colorado vineyards, all while constantly shooting photos and refining his craft. • Stephen's solid understanding of agriculture and years of adventure are evident in his work. His images are as authentic as they are artistic, and he knows how to capture the true spirit of a person, place, animal, or experience in a fresh style that creates a genuine connection with the audience. I came across Stephen’s agricultural photography several years ago and was immediately drawn in. (And keep in mind, I can be a bit jaded when it comes to ranch photos—I look at them all day as part of my job.) I have been a fan of his work ever since. • I was super-excited to finally meet Stephen and learn more about his work and personal story. We had a fun (and funny) conversation and covered a wide range of interesting topics. We dug into his connection to agriculture and talked in depth about how ranches and farms play an important role in land conservation. We talked about motorcycles and some of his adventures. We discussed the importance of international travel and his lessons learned from immersion in foreign cultures. We obviously chatted in detail about photography, as well as an insane bear story that you definitely need to hear. • Cool guy. Thoughtful conversation. Crazy stories. Great episode! • http://mountainandprairie.com/stephen-smith/ --- TOPICS DISCUSSED: 3:55 - How Stephen describes his work 4:55 - How he decided to focus on agriculture as a photography subject 7:45 - How long he's been shooting photographs 10:00 - Lesson learned from starting with film photography 12:00 - Stephen’s time working on a Colorado Ranch 16:00 - Overview of holistic range management 19:15 - What “conservation” means to Stephen 22:30 - How his deep understanding of agriculture is reflected in his work 26:00 - Some examples of extraordinary agricultural operations 31:00 - Economic benefits of holistic management 32:30 - Stephen’s love of motorcycles 36:00 - Connection between motorcycles and agriculture 37:00 - Five-month solo motorcycle adventure 42:30 - Lesson learned from traveling and living abroad 47:10 - Books on motorcycle adventures 48:30 - Recommended motorcycle trips through the West 50:00 - Upcoming Mexico motorcycle adventure 54:30 - Big breaks versus a slow grind 58:00 - Advice to young photographers 1:03:30 - Favorite books 1:05:20 - Favorite documentary 1:06:40 - Thoughts on surfing 1:08:45 - Simple advice to be a better landscape photographer 1:13:00 - Insane story about being chased by a bear 1:20:20 - Favorite place in the West 1:21:10 - Biggest threat facing the West 1:24:10 - Stephen’s request of the listeners 1:26:00 - Connect with Stephen online

1hr 27mins

9 Aug 2016

Rank #20