July 2020 Newsletter

Four months later, and the coronavirus pandemic continues. We have watched communities shut down, reopen, and close up again. We have watched healthcare services become overwhelmed, then recover, then prepare for another rising wave of COVID-19 cases across the country. We could not, in good conscience, proceed with running the 2020 Montana Afoot & Afloat course that we have been hoping and preparing for all year. Out of concern for the safety of our students and instructors, and out of respect for the rural communities we visit during our courses, we made the incredibly challenging decision to suspend all WRFI courses until next year.

Though we’re disappointed that we won’t have an opportunity to take students into the field this year, we now have time to dedicate to a variety of different projects that we believe will strengthen WRFI in the long run, as we continue to do what we can to help our community through the ongoing pandemic. Read on for a glimpse of what we’re working on this summer!

For a while now, we’ve had our eye on a promising new backpacking route for summer courses in the Scapegoat Wilderness, at the southern end of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. In late June, Katie and Mel had the opportunity to steal away from the WRFI office with fellow WRFI Instructors Chandra Brown and Kitty Galloway and our dear friend Betsy Craske in order to scope out trail conditions, creek crossings, and potential campsites for future WRFI groups. After several days of wildflower traverses, forest bathing, creekside lounging, and excellent company, we are delighted to announce that we found the route to be exceedingly suitable for a WRFI course. We are very much looking forward to introducing students to this stunning landscape next summer ( Conservation Across Boundaries students, we’re looking at you!).  

Since our first attempt at a WRFI photo contest + exhibition was derailed by a global pandemic, we’re revitalizing the event with a slightly different approach: this time around, rather than seeking entries for an in-person exhibit, we’re in search of submissions for a 2021 WRFI calendar that anyone will be able to enjoy from the comfort of home.

So, CALLING ALL WRFI ALUMNI AND INSTRUCTORS : send us your favorite photo from the field! We will collect submissions until 5:00 PM (MST) on Friday, August 31. Read more about submission guidelines and winning prizes here

That’s right: couscous, veggie chili, peanut noodles, oh so many lentils, and more…we’re finally compiling all of your favorite field recipes into a single book of mouth-watering memories. We’re currently collecting recipes for this *highly* anticipated publication, and we want to hear from you! If you think of a favorite meal from your course, please email it to the fabulous Katie Nelson at katienelson@wrfi.net by Monday, August 3 . Once finalized, the first edition of our WRFI cookbook will be available in our online store !

We saw a big win for public lands conservation in the Crown of the Continent with the recent cancellation of the final oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine region . Thank you to our friends at the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance (with a special shout-out to their current Executive Director and former WRFI Instructor, Peter Metcalf!), the Blackfeet Nation , and all others who have tirelessly advocated for the protection of this remarkable landscape. Learn more about the Badger-Two Medicine Protection Act and ways you can be involved in further action here .

We’ve also seen recent bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate for the Great American Outdoors Act. Check out this detailed update on the bill from Mother Jones .

Dr. Daisy Purdy is the founder of the equity and inclusion collaborative Inclusive Community , a former faculty member at Northern Arizona University, WRFI’s Native American Studies Advisor, and a beloved instructor of several different WRFI courses. Daisy is currently embarking on a 2,000-mile rollerskating journey (yes, ROLLERSKATING!) from the Navajo Nation in Arizona to the Eastern Band Cherokee Nation in North Carolina. She has planned this adventure in order to raise funds and awareness for an intergenerational, intertribal research project—led by Dr. Tommy Rock—on environmental contamination in Indigenous communities and the overwhelming impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Navajo Nation. Read more about Daisy’s Mesas to Mountains expedition and consider donating to her fundraiser today! 
Check out our WRFI goods

Our online store is always open. Visit the WRFI website to browse our collection of WRFI-branded shirts, hoodies, hats, tumblers, and more.
Meet Meg Fisher
MEG FISHER first learned about WRFI when she was an undergraduate student studying Health and Human Performance at the University of Montana. Years earlier, Meg had been involved in a tragic car accident that resulted in the amputation of her left leg and a serious brain injury that left her in a coma for a week following the accident. Filled with an innate grit and optimism, Meg was determined to recover her life as an athlete, in spite of medical advice that told her she would “never walk again.”

Shortly after graduating with her bachelor’s degree from UM, Meg joined a kayaking-based WRFI course focused on the Tongass National Forest in Southeastern Alaska. Part of Meg’s inspiration for joining the course was a desire to push herself, and to see what she would be able to accomplish on an expedition unlike anything she’d participated in before. As it turns out, she could accomplish quite a bit: not only did she thrive during her group’s explorations of Southeast Alaska’s wild land and seascapes, but she also came to better understand her place in the world as she was asked to read, think, and write critically about the places and communities she was immersed in. As Meg would say, “we are all capable of more than we know.”

Meg has since gone on to become a Doctor of Physical Therapy, a Team USA Paracycling champion, a USA Cycling Level 3 Coach, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and of course: a valued member of WRFI’s Safety Committee and Board of Directors! Meg says that “there is no change without challenge,” and we are endlessly inspired by her ability to meet challenges with grace, charisma, and boundless enthusiasm. We feel so lucky to have Meg as a part of our WRFI family, and we’re incredibly proud of all the work she has done and continues to do for her community and the world. In addition to her work as a coach, trainer, and motivational speaker, Meg has also recently started her own physical therapy practice in Missoula. Learn more at https://gomegfisher.com/ !
Wild Rockies Field Institute is a 501(c)3 organization. Your gift is fully tax deductible. Our Federal Identification Number is 81-0487425.