Meredith fraser


The Landscape and Livelihood program truly played a pivotal role in my undergraduate degree and arising career path. Up until participating in the program my focus had always been on the hard sciences – what does the physical landscape look like, how are the different populations doing, what are signs of ecological degradation and what forms of restoration exist? During the short few months of L&L (savour them because they will fly by!) I was able to not only delve deeper into these topics but was also introduced to the human side of the landscape and our deep connection to it. I was exposed to the full extent of ecosystem connectivity, observed the framework for conservation initiatives on an innovative watershed-scale and saw firsthand the importance of resource management practices specific to the community and its encompassing landscape. This program not only teaches you about the natural history of this beautiful place but also about the locally-driven management and conservation of it, by way of policy and collaboration. It is inspiring, giving power to local action and illustrating the idea of reciprocity between people and the landscape that provides for them.

Cassidy Jo Williams

This experience was basically the highlight of my whole life!

Cassidy was a Wildlife in the West student in 2015.  She graduated from Virginia Tech in 2016 with a major in wildlife conservation and a heightened sense of purpose. “I was raised on a farm and I realize how important agriculture is to our society,” she says. “You can’t live without food, but conservation is just as important. Often, farmers feel like their production is hindered by conservation acts, so I want to help farmers see that conservation can help work for the good of agriculture.”

CONTINUE READING more about her story in the Virginia Tech News →

Michaelyn McDonnell

An incredible eye opening and soul rejuvenating experience. Not only did I gain knowledge from the classes I took but I also learned so much about the people living and working in the area.
— Landscape & Livelihood 2016

Brooke Stallings

I participated in Landscape & Livelihood in the fall of 2009. It was my first time in the northwest, and, after the 9 day backpacking trip in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, I was hooked. The courses and the instructors were so engaging and hands-on, and I was introduced to concepts that I hadn't encountered in my undergrad biology and ecology classes. CONTINUE READING →

Brenna Rietmann

I attended the first Wildlife in the West back in 2011, and boy was it a great experience. I made life-long connections with locals and students. I can now say I've used telemetry, can identify multiple species from their tracks, and learned a ton from the great variety of speakers and people we were exposed to.

After Wildlife in the West, I had a clearer vision of what I wanted to do. Since that time I have been focused on finding ways to connect what I see as the three main factors in practical conservation: Science, policy, and people. CONTINUE READING →

University students come from across the nation to study community-based conservation at Swan Valley Connections. Here you’ll find a list of universities from which our students have come.

Arizona State University
Auburn University
Bard College
Baylor University
Boise State University
Brown University
College of Brockport - SUNY
Colorado College
Colorado State University
Cornell University
Dalhousie University
Evergreen State College
Furman University
Hiram College
Humbolt State University
Ithaca College
Iowa State University
Lake Superior State University
Lewis and Clark College
Linfield College
Mills College
Montana State University
New College of Florida
North Carolina State University
North Dakota State University
Northern Arizona University
Northland College
Oberlin College
Prescott College
Purdue University
Saginaw Valley State University
Slippery Rock University
South Dakota State University
Temple University
Texas A&M University
University of Arizona
University of British Columbia
University of California - Berkeley
University of California - Santa Cruz
University of Central Missouri
University of Colorado
University of Delaware
University of Denver
University of Florida
University of Idaho
University of Kentucky
University of Maryland
University of Massachusetts - Amherst
University of Michigan
University of Montana
University of Texas - Austin
University of Vermont
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin - LaCrosse
University of Wisconsin - Madison
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh
University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
Vassar College
Virginia Tech
Warren Wilson College
Western Washington University
Whitman College
Willamette University

Josh Blouin

Born and raised in Vermont, my first Montana experience was in the summer of 2013, as a student of Wildlife in the West. Knowing little about the charismatic species we focused on (Grizzly Bears, Wolves, Canada lynx, and Bull Trout) and the controversies that surround them, I was completely enthralled by every aspect of the program. The instructors would approach every complex wildlife issue with knowledge, passion, and inspiring empathy. They taught me more than I could have ever imagined, thus changing my entire attitude and understanding of wildlife conservation. CONTINUE READING →