For our August Volunteer Spotlight, we reached out to a volunteer whose land ethic really inspires us. Brandon’s volunteer story is somewhat unique compared to some of our other volunteers. We appreciate the importance he places on family, the awareness and respect he has for where his food comes from and it’s impact (he hunts and grows most of it himself), and his involvement in the local community.
Here’s what Brandon has to say about his experience volunteering with The Nature Conservancy. Thank you Brandon, for your service and your flattering words in this interview! We agree, it’s lots of people coming together doing small things that makes a big difference!
My name is Brandon Wolther. I am first and foremost a father. I am a chiropractor and I have grown to really like The Nature Conservancy. Unlike many of you who will probably be reading this blog, I did not join up with The Nature Conservancy because I was really impressed with something they did or something they represented. I am part of the hunter stewardship program.
I was introduced to them after returning from a two year mission in Nicaragua. When I returned my dad said that there were going to be some areas where we used to hunt that I couldn’t join them because I hadn’t put in “volunteer hours”. The following year, even though I was studying out of state, I made it back for a weekend and have been helping out a couple of weekends ever since. It was a real struggle at first. Schooling lasted almost 8 years and considering I had to travel from eastern Idaho and later from Portland, Oregon, it was sometimes a real drag. We put in a lot of fence, cleaned up garbage, sprayed noxious weeds and that is hard work up in the Moses Coulee rocks. The first thing I did appreciate was that it brought the family together a couple days beyond the hunting season. That was a major part of why I came home each year for mule deer hunting, it is our family reunion. That is when we all get together and enjoy a week together. That week means the world to me. Nature Conservancy volunteer time was just something I had to do.
Now I’ve moved back and live in Quincy, Washington. I’ve been here for 4 years now and I’ve come to enjoy the time I’ve spent with the Nature Conservancy. I’ve met some great people, like Chuck, Liz and Lauren, and made some good friends on my outings. This year I was able to take my 8 year old son along with me. He learned some valuable lessons, I can’t say he worked hard, but he stuck with it. He helped out with a seminar in 100 degree heat and searched for pygmy rabbit burrows. The excitement he has for the outdoors is what gives me the most hope for the future. You should have seen him light up when he saw the rabbits in the breeding station. What I have grown to love about the Nature Conservancy is that it truly strives to conserve. It is a nature group that still allows managed hunting. It protects vast amounts of ground but does not condescend on neighboring ranchers, even though they may be overgrazing. Instead they try to help and teach them. They take advantage of the ground they have to do studies and to help all those who live in the area to learn how they can do things more efficiently. I could go into depth here but I’ll leave it at I’ve been very impressed.
In my world time is a very valuable thing. I am the father of five and the husband of the most amazing woman on the face of the planet. (She’ll never read this so you know I really mean that.) I am the Branch President of the Spanish Branch of our church (kind of the equivalent of a pastor or priest for those who may not know what that is). I sit on several committees here in town for different groups. I run a chiropractic clinic completely on my own. And if that isn’t enough we’ve got 10 acres where we grow, raise, freeze, can, dry, etc. more food than most can even imagine. I’ve learned sleep is overrated, that’s why I’m up late writing up this interview J. If family wasn’t important to me I never would have learned about the Nature Conservancy. If the Nature Conservancy hadn’t become important to me I wouldn’t make the time to still be involved with it.
This year I had a couple of unique opportunities. One was to attend a seminar given up at the falls. I have seen so much of this desert country, but that seminar brought the country to life. Every year I spend a week putting the miles behind me traipsing through the sage brush. I have seen some amazing things. Just last year I had an experience where we had hunted hard, I’d seen chucker, sage grouse, jack rabbits, cotton tails, and birds galore not to mention deer. A beauty of a buck came up out of the brush, I pulled up and watched. I had that buck dead to rights and I let him walk away. There are some moments that are bigger than we are. During that seminar my eyes were open in another way to the beauties of what made the land the way it is up there. It was absolutely amazing. The place I watched that buck walk away was only a few miles from that seminar. Before anyone gets any crazy conversion ideas I will also say that the freezer was not empty at the end of the season.
Fifty years from now the world will be whatever we make of it. Each decision we make affects the future. If we choose to make it better it will be better. If we look for the bad we will find it however if we look for the good it is no further away from us. The media loves to bombard us with all of the bad things that are going on around us. This is one of the things I like about spending more time doing and less time listening. While serving we are making a difference. Our projects may seem small but they make a difference. Each small difference in a positive direction builds upon the last and betters the world around us. That is what we do with The Nature Conservancy, small projects with big goals. It is awesome to see the native vegetation so full and the areas free of trash, or to find endangered bunnies surviving in the wild. It is inspiring to come out and find other people from all walks of life trying to make a difference too.
I love that we can work together, a group that builds and protects nature, and hunters who help keep the balance so that less is wasted over the winter, freezers are filled, and truly healthy meats are put on the table (there’s the chiropractor in me popping out again). Some think we have different views. Originally I was one of those. Now I see that our views are not so far apart, thanks to Chuck. So much in life is about balance. The stewardship program provides beautiful country, some of the most beautiful habitat I’ve seen in a long time. We put a lot of long hours in to build that. Good habitat improves the herds and hence the hunting. Proper management ensures that all species can thrive. Though it’s true that nature can balance itself we too are a part of this nature. Maybe we are in part responsible for the decline of the Pygmy Rabbits, maybe we’re not. What I do know is that if it weren’t for a lot of people’s efforts they would no longer exist now. It is our duty to care for this world the best we can. I’m glad to provide another helping hand to a program with the bigger picture in mind. I hope that we can continue to involve others and provide more opportunities for learning and serving. Maybe then one more person will come and bring their child along, creating the legacy of the next 20 years. May we continue to work together to create something bigger than we are to make a difference.