Broadband Leader Boot Camp Unites ‘Cannots’: Those Who Cannot Live Without Wilderness

boot-camp-2013groupIn April, 13 new Broadband Leaders graduated from the fifth annual Broadband Leader Boot Camp wilderness advocacy training program at Ghost Ranch Education & Retreat Center in Abiquiu, New Mexico.

The leaders, hailing from Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon, found out there is a reason we call it Boot Camp! From sunup ‘til long past sundown, we worked hard learning the complexities of The Wilderness Act and what it takes to pass legislation, soaked in the many processes to involve the public in protecting public lands, delved into technical tools and organizing nuts and bolts, and connected with other dynamic wilderness managers and activists from New Mexico, and even one from as far away as South Africa who founded an organization called “Wild Peace.”

With this Boot Camp, Broads has trained 70 leaders. We have more than two dozen active Broadbands across 12 states, including six new Broadbands in Prescott and Grand Canyon, AZ; Ridgway, CO; Reno, NV, Santa Fe, NM and Bend, OR.  With an average of a dozen or more active members per Broadband, Broads’ ranks include over 300 volunteer activists working at the grassroots across the country.

Our Broads have earned some bragging rights. To start with, they bring years of experience to their Broadbands. Among this year’s Boot Camp participants: two wildlife biologists who have spent their careers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; one professional leadership training coach; one author who has logged hundreds of miles on solo hikes and leads contemplative and trail writing hikes; a librarian currently volunteering at Grand Canyon National Park’s Research Library; a developmental disability specialist who took her clients into the woods; an 80-year-old long-time wilderness activist; and professional conservationists who have led efforts to expand wilderness areas, develop new energy, and introduce children to the joys of wilderness; and the former Executive Director of Great Old Broads (yes, Ronni Egan continues her commitment as Four Corners Broadband Co-Leader). This unique group of women is united by their concern that future generations may know wild lands and wilderness (or the Milky Way) and their desire to give back to the wild places that have sustained them through their lives.

Each year, Boot Camp equips Broadband Leaders with the skills and experience they need to work for wilderness and wild places.  One guest presenter was Dave Foreman, life-long wilderness advocate, writer, and co-founder of Earth First! (1979), The Rewilding Project (1991), New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (1997), and Rewilding Institute (2003).  During his talk, Dave invoked another wilderness champion, wildlife biologist and writer, Aldo Leopold, and reminded Broads about the opening to his essays in Sand County Almanac, “There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot.” We agree with Dave that we decidedly ‘cannot’ live without wild things. That is what motivates Broads to sign up as volunteers leaders. It is also the camaraderie and diversity of the Broads and Bros who participate in local Broadbands that sustain them.

Know any other “Cannots” that should be involved as members or leaders? Please direct them to greatoldbroads.org or e-mail broads@greatoldbroads.org.
by Ellen Stein Great Old Broads for Wilderness Broadband & Membership Coordinator

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