Working Wild University
Working Wild U is a new podcast that immerses the listener in the action with the people and wildlife of the American West. We bring you the big stories at the heart of the struggle to sustain productive, resilient and connected rural landscapes and communities.
Each episode is centered at the intersection of cultural knowledge and science, exploring the challenges and successes of sharing and managing working landscapes that support both people and wildlife.
If you are passionate about stunning stories, open spaces, wild places and healthy communities, add Working Wild U to your podcast feed now.
Alex grew up in Texas at the edge of Houston’s suburban sprawl spending weekends in her early childhood fishing and combing beaches along Matagorda Bay with her father. She took refuge after his death in the old Live Oaks growing just beyond the backyard fence. Watching their roots ripped out and the cattle cleared for yet another subdivision marked the beginning of a long absence of nature in her life.
She began reconnecting with the natural world studying creek-side at the University of Texas while working on a bachelor’s in biology, where she discovered a passion for one of life’s great mysteries – the human brain. She followed this passion to the University of Washington in Seattle to study the molecular mechanisms mediating calcium-dependent short-term synaptic plasticity. Long days in the laboratory staring out the window at Mount Rainer called her to a different career closer to the mountain wilds.
After finishing her Ph.D., Alex traveled the mountains of the American West, Austria, Australia, Argentina, and Canada before settling at the southern edge of the Great Basin Desert in Bishop, California. She chose small town life as a replacement for family hoping to build a career doing some kind of science at the base of the “range of light” – the Sierra Nevada. She traded a microscope for binoculars when she landed a job monitoring federally endangered bighorn sheep across High Sierra summits. That job would ultimately introduce her to her future husband, a Wyoming helicopter cowboy named Grant who captured wildlife for state agencies around the West. She eventually moved north to Grant’s farm in Powell, Wyoming to start a family and work for USDA-Wildlife Services. Powell and Bishop are both Great Basin towns: population of 4,500, elevation the same. Both host a Mule Days celebration and are just east of an iconic National Park that starts with Y. But despite all the similarities, life on the farm couldn’t be more different than life in Bishop.
All these experiences have helped Alex appreciate the complexity at the intersection of wildlife conservation, political ecology and land management. At Western Landowners Alliance, she found a place to put this necessary nuance to work. She now feeds her lifelong passion for learning by listening to the people who live closest to the land. She knows that while science can point us in a direction, its application relies on those whose knowledge comes from lived experience. Alex is always on a quest to make what surrounds her whole and healthy, including herself.
Jared grew up hunting, fishing, and enjoying as much of the outdoors as humanly possible in the hills of North Carolina. He received his B.S. in Biology from Wake Forest University (WFU). Prior to starting his M.S. degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at the University of Tennessee, he worked with the National Park Service in Great Smoky Mountains National Park assisting with elk management and feral swine and nuisance bear control. After completing his M.S., he moved to Texas for his Ph.D. at Texas A&M University – College Station studying various aspects of white-tailed deer population ecology and habitat management. During his time in Texas, Jared also worked for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service as the Program Coordinator for Water and Natural Resources for Bexar County. After completing his Ph.D., he returned to NC for a post-doctoral research position at WFU where he developed and implemented a local wildlife research program. Jared is a Certified Wildlife Biologist.
Jared’s career ambition has always been a faculty position allowing the opportunity to blend person-to-person extension work with applied research and teaching, so in April of 2020 he jumped at the opportunity to serve in the role of Assistant Professor and Wildlife Extension Specialist at Montana State University. While much of Jared’s career has focused on population ecology and habitat management of large mammals, particularly game species, his program at MSU is continually looking for ways to blend wildlife research with applied management by identifying conservation opportunities which have direct relevance for private landowners and wildlife managers in an effort to advance science and provide the most relevant, accurate, and unbiased research-based information and educational material.
Jared lives in Montana with his wife and their two young boys. He and his family can think of no better place to be than Montana where they enjoy hunting, hiking, fishing, skiing and pretty much anything else that can be done outdoors.
Zach is a multimedia producer and storyteller based in the Greater Yellowstone. He is a producer for Working Wild U, and the host and producer of the On Land Podcast. Zach also supports all aspects of marketing and communications at Western Landowners Alliance, and serves as associate editor for their bi-annual magazine, On Land. He’s spent the last five years developing his skills as a storyteller and marketer, both in the private and non-profit sectors. Zach supports the communications director to ensure that the impactful relationships WLA fosters offline can continue the conversation online.
Hailing from Appalachian country in eastern Ohio, Zach holds a B.S in Geology from the University of Cincinnati. During his adventures studying Earth processes, he fell in love with the people and landscapes of the American West.
Zach lives with his wife and dog in their self-built tiny house outside of Bozeman, Montana, caretaking a small farm and feeding their community.
Matt is deeply motivated to further practices, processes, and policies that support thriving working lands and wildlife in the American West. Through experience as a ranch hand in dense carnivore-country and four seasons as a guide in Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin, Matt’s work is inspired by the challenges and opportunities of sharing working landscapes with wildlife. In his work with WLA, Matt is building on his previous time with the Center for Large Landscape Conservation and People and Carnivores, where he worked to reduce human-wildlife conflict and support connected landscapes throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Prior to joining WLA, Matt worked as a graduate researcher at Colorado State University to understand how rangeland collaboratives form and achieve success in reducing conflict between large carnivores and livestock. Through these experiences, Matt has developed an appreciation for the power of collaborative processes to build positive outcomes for landowners and wildlife alike. Matt currently lives in Boulder, Colorado, where in his free time he likes to go hiking with his dog, Maisy, and find camping spots on the path less traveled by foot, horse or ski.
Proud to be part of the Natural Resources University podcast network
Natural Resources University is a podcast network focused on delivering science-based information for natural resource management. Check out all the shows in the network here