Photo by Mackenzie Daignault, Buffalo Field Campaign
I arrived in Montana about three weeks ago. I was apprehensive about the cold weather, being from Texas and never having experienced such a climate. However, Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) is well-equipped and takes care to ensure volunteers are adequately outfitted for each day’s challenges that the climate may pose.
Wake-up times vary according to what responsibility a volunteer is assuming each day. I usually wake-up at my accustomed 6:00 AM. Coffee and breakfast are served before the 8:00 AM patrol. I am happy to be transported in all-wheel drive vehicles by drivers experienced in driving in snow and ice. The temperature is surprisingly mild so far, with afternoon highs hovering around the twenties before falling back into the single digits at night. I know this will not last, but I feel fortunate to gradually ease into the cold weather, having experienced 90 degrees just a few weeks ago.
Our area of responsibility for patrols is quite large and requires driving to the perennial buffalo migration corridors from Yellowstone National Park. An easily understood, customized map with landmarks and colloquial identifiers of recognized buffalo areas is a vital study tool for new volunteers. We currently walk to the areas that are unreachable by vehicle, and soon we shall be traversing this terrain by cross-country skis and snowshoes.
Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign
BFC is well-organized due to a dedicated group of coordinators, many with over 15 years of experience who started as volunteers. Safety of volunteers is of paramount concern and questions are always encouraged. Opportunities abound for participation in a variety of functions vital to the success of BFC. The base camp cabin is very accommodating and full of opportunities to contribute to the campaign when one is not on patrol. Monitoring field radios, answering phone calls, chopping wood, and helping out with miscellaneous office functions are among the many activities too numerous to list. Volunteers of course, also have the time to admire the beautiful scenery of the mountain range, lake, and wildlife within view of the base camp. And the food is very good, accommodating all dietary profiles.
I highly recommend BFC to anyone wanting to volunteer for an organization that is making a tangible difference for endangered wildlife, in this case our national mammal, the wild buffalo. It can be a bit intimidating at first, but a demonstration of interest and effort on the part of the volunteer corresponds to genuine passion on the part of the staff to facilitate a rewarding and unforgettable experiences.
~ Geddy, BFC Volunteer 2017-2018 Field Season
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