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2012 News Releases

Conservationist to talk at Longwood about grizzlies at Yellowstone

February 24, 2012

Conservationist Mike Leach, founder and executive director of Yellowstone Country Guardians (YCG)

Conservationist Mike Leach, founder and executive director of Yellowstone Country Guardians (YCG), will speak Thursday, March 1, at 7 p.m. in Molnar Recital Hall in Wygal on "The Wildness and Spirit of Yellowstone: Grizzlies of Yellowstone."

Leach for many years was an interpretive grizzly ranger at Yellowstone. The presentation, part of the Longwood@Yellowstone National Park (LU@YNP) project, in which he is involved, is a "celebration of place, wildness and the Yellowstone Ecosystem" that will "inspire those who already know and love Yellowstone to revisit this rugged and majestic region, while motivating others to discover the raw power of one of North America's wildest landscapes," says a YCG release. "This presentation emphasizes the importance of keystone species, such as grizzlies and wolves, while deepening participants' understanding of island biogeography, the plight of the Yellowstone bison, and Yellowstone's hope for the future."

Leach has for several years been part of the LU@YNP project, a set of courses related primarily to General Education. "He has met with students in the field and shared with them his approaches to working with diverse stakeholders, promoting place-based civic engagement and modeling citizen leadership for young people," said Dr. Carl Riden, associate professor of sociology, one of the leaders of the interdisciplinary project.

In addition to his public talk, Leach will visit Longwood classes and meet with faculty and students on March 1-2, and the weekend of March 2-4 he will facilitate a student retreat at Hull Springs Farm, managed by Longwood and located on the Northern Neck.

"He is a charismatic conservationist, an exciting speaker and a true citizen leader," Riden said.

"His work as a park ranger and, more recently, as the bear education ranger at Yellowstone National Park inspired his vision to start a Yellowstone-based nonprofit organization. Yellowstone Country Guardians works on the ground to inspire a commitment to this important landscape and to support civic engagement and leadership by the area's youth. His theme at the retreat at Hull Springs Farm will be 'Be Audacious: Inspiring Your Legacy and Living a Life that Matters.'"

Leach's appearance is made possible by support from Longwood's American Democracy Project, the Cormier Honors College and the Office of Residential and Commuter Life.

The LU@YNP project, which grew from Longwood's involvement with the Stewardship of Public Lands Initiative of the American Democracy Project, focuses on the challenges associated with the management of our public lands. The project includes a field experience at Yellowstone National Park in May. Participation has grown from eight students in 2006, when it began, to 48 students in 2011.