For those of you who have been following my posts, you know that I have been writing about water conservation in the East Metro for the past few months. Well, this month I will be making a slight departure from water to write about story telling! Many of the people I have met with recently have asked me what my story is. What they’re really asking is what has led me to doing the work I do with Conservation Minnesota, and I’m glad they ask!
My story begins with horses. I have been riding horses since I was 11 years old and I had the pleasure of riding and boarding horses in the beautiful scenery of Hugo and Forest Lake, Minnesota. This area has a unique combination of wetlands among rolling green hills and both pine and broadleaf forest areas. The wildlife in the area is fantastic as well. There are wild turkeys, pheasants, deer, snapping turtles, coyotes, and so much more. Both cities are nestled between two Important Bird Areas (IBAs), as designated by Audubon Minnesota. These areas are deemed critical for the survival of special bird species. Many of the birds Audubon Minnesota lists as living in this area are birds that I saw on spring and summer visits to my horse. The Eastern Meadowlark, Field Sparrow, Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagle, and a couple different Warblers decorated the scenery and added delight to my times at the barn.
I couldn’t help but wonder about the health of the areas I so loved, especially when I learned of habitat loss and water problems in other areas of the state. It was difficult to sit through a high school ecology class and not connect my experiences with the conservation issues I read about. When it came to thinking about a career, I was certain it had to be something environmental – and something that involved protecting the wonderful, natural resources of Minnesota so that others could experience what I was so lucky to experience from the back of a horse. Now, with Conservation Minnesota, I get to connect with people who feel the same way I do about the areas they love – and work together to protect them at the local and statewide levels. It feels great!
Many of us are passionate about the big issues – not least of which is conserving our beautiful natural resources. Having a personal story in mind can be powerfully motivating when faced with daunting conservation problems. Our love for this world is what keeps us working together to protect it.
What’s your story? I’d love to hear it, so if you feel like sharing then email me at Julie@conservationminnesota.org.