More families throughout Sheridan County will be able to explore what conservation options are right for their land now that Meghan Kent has joined the team as Sheridan Community Land Trust’s (SCLT) first-ever Conservation Program Manager.
“This is an important forward step for SCLT,” said Brad Bauer, SCLT Executive Director. “With Meghan on board, we will be able to assist more local families to conserve their land as well as partner with other groups to improve wildlife habitat, ensure a healthy watershed and many other opportunities where we can all work together to keep Sheridan County the truly special we know and love.”
Meghan joins SCLT after completing her master’s degree in social science and environmental and natural resources at the University of Wyoming this fall.
While studying soils on farms and ranches across Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota, Meghan developed a deep appreciation for the role agricultural lands and the people who feed our communities with the products those lands produce play in conservation.
“By visiting those farms and ranches, I got more excited about conserving lands that we rely on for survival and how we can work together to balance production and ecosystem health,” she related.
However, studying soils on those farms and ranches wasn’t Meghan’s first foray into conservation. She grew up near the shores of Laramie’s LaBonte Lake, the site of sinkholes historically used as the city dump and known locally as “Stink Lake.”
In the 1960s, the City of Laramie utilized state conservation funds to reclaim Stink Lake and turned it into a park that provides recreational opportunities for Laramie residents and aids in flood control while serving as a home for a veritable menagerie of wetland wildlife from waterfowl to tiger salamanders.
As a student at UW, Meghan read studies about environmental conditions in neighborhoods across the US and realized the drastically different condition her childhood park could have had if the city had not stepped in.
“I was thankful the city conserved LaBonte Park. That, coupled with the outdoor recreation experiences I’d had, made me think of the importance of conservation in terms of cultivating and protecting outdoor spaces. The city could have left it a dump, paved it over for businesses/houses, but instead made it into one of the biggest parks in the city. My interest in conservation began with that,” she reflected.
Outdoor recreation has played a large role in Kent’s life. She competed on UW’s Nordic Ski Club, which has led her to spend a great amount of time in the backcountry. That passion led her to serve nearly three years as coordinator and volunteer board member for Common Outdoor Ground (COG), a Laramie-based nonprofit that works to ensure the sustainability of outdoor spaces in southeast Wyoming.
While volunteering with COG, Meghan helped install wildlife-friendly fencing, built new trails and decommissioned others, helped reopen a closed US Forest Service campground, and cleanups at climbing areas and her beloved Stink Lake.
Meghan says she gained invaluable experience about how building relationships with community members and community partners is essential to conservation. She’ll employ that experience while working with members of the Sheridan County community.
“There can be a lot of enthusiasm, innovation and manpower to harness from the public, but there is also a lot of cultivation that must occur when working with the public to ensure support. I’m looking forward to working with our community to build that involvement here at SCLT,” she offered.
Beyond that, Meghan said she’s eager to explore our beautiful Bighorns backyard with her partner Will and their 10-month-old Kelpie/Border Collie cross Nala. In addition to skiing, she loves mountain biking and trail running and “dabbles” in climbing.
Meghan said she’d love to talk about what conservation programs may be right for your land or about great places to explore in and around Sheridan County. She can be reached via email at email@example.com, by phone at (307) 673-4702 or at the SCLT office at 52 S Main St, Suite 1 in Sheridan.