Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Friday, September 9, 2016

Kazakhstanians visit Bison Ranch

World Montana hosted a group of four delegates from Kazakhstan who had come to experience Montana, and take their observations back to improve the Kazakhstani beef industry. During their stay, they met with state Livestock and Agriculture officials, visited the Helena Farmer’s Market and took a trip to a bison ranch just outside Townsend, Montana. They were captivated by this working bison ranch and were particularly impressed by the care and treatment of the herd of wild bison.

Wild Echo Bison Ranch is set in the Big Belt mountains of rural Montana, twenty miles outside of Townsend. Established in 2003, this ranch and wildlife preserve is owned and operated by Pam and Craig Knowles, both wildlife biologists and incredible people. Their passion is to share their knowledge through education of the public. The remote property boasts 480 acres, ecologically managed with multiple species of wildlife. The herd of some seventy bison live without intensive human interference, but many have names and some of the friendlier females will come when called!

Wild Echo Bison Ranch focuses on education and preservation of resources. The ranch offers small-scale overnight visitor opportunities with the chance to stay in cozy cabins or tipis, complete with home-cooked meals. Throughout their stay, guests will get the chance to interact with the wild animals and learn about a wide range of ecological topics from two incredibly well-educated and passionate individuals. Also available activities are wildlife hikes, biologist-led projects, stargazing, bird watching, and a guided three-day trip to Yellowstone National Park. It is suggested that guests stay a minimum of at least two nights as to get the full experience!

The visitors from Kazakhstan were able to interact with the bison herd, and asked many, many questions. They were amazed at how Pam and Craig treat their bison with such care. The Kazakhstani visitors were inspired by the natural approach to ranching, and the connection and passion that the two owners offered.

Throughout our visit, I was constantly impressed by how knowledgeable, friendly, and passionate this duo is. It’s rare to meet business owners with such a powerful vision. Their unique business model serves a valuable purpose: educating the public about wildlife restoration through an incredible experiential approach, and helping to preserve this ancient species.

As Craig Knowles puts it: “People have to know about wilderness to love it. And if they love it, they will fight to preserve it. Our mission is to introduce them to it.”

Katherine Anderson

World Montana Intern

Carroll College Freshman

A group of delegates from Kyrgyzstan came to Montana through the Open World Program to study Local Water Management and Dry Climate Irrigation.

The delegates were welcomed to Helena by a meeting with Mayor Jim Smith where they discussed water quality issues.  During their stay they were also able to meet with Representative Mary Ann Dunwell, (D) HD84 State Representative from Helena to talk about the legislative process of introducing water bills and moving it through the process into law. The delegates visited the State Capitol, the Montana Historical Society, and Fort Harrison during their time in Helena.  The delegates then traveled to Bozeman to visit the Bozeman Water Reclamation Facility where they met with Superintendent Herb Bartle.  The group was also able to spend quality time with their host families and make connections in the Helena community through them.

At the end of their stay, the Kyrgyz delegates gave a presentation on the traditions and culture of Kyrgyzstan to an audience of about 25 people from the Helena community.  They began the presentation by showing a video that highlighted how the country of Kyrgyzstan is truly, “The Heart of Asia”.  The audience was able to see where the delegates call home from the vast mountain ranges to the clear lakes.  After giving a taste of the country’s landscape, the delegates performed a traditional Kyrgyz song and dance.  The song titled, “Kyzyl Oruk”, which translates to “Red Apricot”, is a traditional love song the delegates and audience sang along to.  The delegates also preformed a traditional dance and the audience joined in as well.  After performing, the Kyrgyz taught traditional games of Kyrgyzstan; find the golden ring and tug of war.  Both the delegates and the audience enjoyed being able to see the similarities and differences between their cultures.

One of the delegates, Aida commented on her experience in Montana, “I was impressed by the water experts who wanted us to learn something.  Also a new thing for us was to visit the National Guard.  I would really like to build the relationships we have made during our stay.  I am thankful for the interns who have helped.  We were able to see with our own eyes the realities of the U.S.  We will take what we have learned back home and tell them how Americans live.”

The Kyrgyz performing a traditional dance.

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