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Wildlife, Community and Conservation

Ashley Smith


Being a new resident of North Dakota, I made a goal for myself to find an outdoor community and learn more about the conservation and habitat practices in the state. But where do I start? How do I find the right program? Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long.


A friend suggested I explore the Sharing The Land website and complete the conservation resume. After reading through the story of the Duren Farm model and finding personal alignment with the foundational pillars, I finished my access seeker profile. Shortly after I received two phone calls from landowners in the program needing assistance for upcoming projects. My first meeting with Gordy Nord was in late April, while the Harsh remnants of the winter were melting away, and he showed me the plan for his property. This included removing invasive wormwood from a wildlife buffer that had been planted in the last few years. Trees and shrubs were carefully selected for their foraging and protection qualities for resident animals. One month later, seven eager volunteers who also signed up through the program went straight to work on making way for new plantings and give existing trees room to breathe by pulling the wormwood. Working together made it easy to conclude all of Gordy’s plans in just one day.


My next opportunity was presented in a different fashion by working with a middle school class for an educational day and hands-on pollinator planting. These students learned about how important this plot was for insects and upland birds, they played a prey and predator game and got up close to a table full of pelts, bones, and feathers. And this is where I came in! I was delighted when asked to engage with the entire fifth grade class at this table and had great fun answering their curious questions. It’s funny how inquiring young minds have a way of rejuvenating your spirit for the outdoors!


Through the entirety of both of my days volunteering, I was welcomed with warmth and along the way took in some great information on the importance of stewardship of the land. Being immersed in the experience helps me to retain that information and see beyond my previous limited knowledge. The appreciation I have for the many types of conservationists in this world has absolutely leveled up. The value of the relationships built upon this program just cannot have a price placed on them. While the access to hunt, forage or recreate is a benefit, there really is so much more behind the scenes of the partnerships being cultivated. Sharing The Land has allowed me to explore my new home and meet some wonderful people who really want to preserve our native species and hunting traditions. It was an honor to dedicate some time with a pair of helping hands to causes that I hold near and dear to my heart……..wildlife, community and conservation.

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