I can hardly believe my time as a CCA and CCALT fellow is coming to a close. The CCALT fellowship began with a whirlwind of monitoring reports, too many acronyms to count, and trying to learn what I perceived to be ‘all things conservation’ in a short time. It wasn’t until I hit my rhythm in the fellowship and regulated my day-to-day tasks that I truly began to grasp how much I was enjoying my time as I was learning about CCALT and conservation efforts across our state.
There is not one story or moment that exemplifies how much I enjoyed the fellowship, but rather it’s the compilation of monitoring trips, landowners’ stories, conversations at events, and happenings at the office that made this experience so special. Even with my limited experience in conservation and growing up outside this industry, I never once felt like an outsider. Landowners and staff alike fielded questions, shared their experiences, and allowed me a glimpse into their worlds. I knew that CCALT worked to protect working agricultural lands but I never realized the breadth and depth of these efforts. Each ranching family from all across the state has a unique history and reasoning for choosing to partner with CCALT and it has been incredible to have the opportunity to talk to these families and learn about their legacies. The heritage and pride of these families can be seen in their stewardship and conservation efforts on their working ranches and agricultural lands. These hardworking families taught me the importance of agricultural heritage throughout Colorado’s history, and most importantly, how working lands and open space are vital for the future of the state. Passion is contagious, and I will walk away from this fellowship a more passionate advocate for ensuring that agricultural lands, open space, natural resources, and the heritage of ranching will be protected for future generations.
Although I won’t necessarily miss digging through files upon files, I will absolutely miss the spontaneous laughter and camaraderie that accompanied my time in and outside the CCALT office. I couldn’t be more proud to have been a small part of this team – you all rock. The champions for conservation amongst the CCALT team, passionate landowners, and non-ranching families continue to impress me, and it was truly a pleasure to get to know each and every one of you. In the future, I may not be directly involved with CCALT like I have been for the past year and a half, but you all can count on my support from the sidelines!