“Building a Sustainable Local Food System” Program at Gardiner School

Lill Erickson, Western Sustainability Exchange director, gives a program entitled, “Building a Sustainable Local Food System” on Tuesday, May 5, 7:00 PM at the Gardiner School multi-purpose room. This program is part of Cultural Perspectives of Land Use in the Gardiner Area, an ongoing series. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.

During her presentation, Erickson will define sustainability, talk about the journey of sustainable agricultural practices, and help the audience think about the origins of their food. Erickson also speaks about solutions including biomimicry, a new science that looks to nature for solutions to human problems. She will discuss the power of connectivity and community, giving examples of programs that she and Western Sustainability Exchange staff members manage.

Erickson founded Western Sustainability Exchange (WSE) in 1994 to conserve what is best about the West for future generations—open space, wildlife habitat, and farming and ranching heritage—while strengthening rural economies. WSE works at a landscape scale focused in critical habitat areas. She has been the executive director since its inception 21 years ago. Erickson’s expertise lies in the areas of sustainable agriculture and the use of market-based conservation strategies to achieve environmental protection and economic development goals. She specializes in strategies that incentivize agricultural and food service businesses to convert to sustainable practices.

Prior to forming WSE, Erickson was caretaker of a cattle ranch bordering Yellowstone National Park. She also worked as an organizer for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and the Idaho Conservation League. Erickson has authored two citizen guides on hard rock mining and the Idaho Legislature and was a contributing writer to Sustaining Greater Yellowstone: A Blueprint for the Future.

Erickson graduated cum laude from the University of Northern Colorado with a Bachelor degree in Journalism with minors in environmental studies and biology.

In 2014 WSE turned 20 and celebrated their Million Milestones: 1 million acres of agricultural lands under sustainable management and $1 million in annual sales for farmers and ranchers in our programs. WSE was also chosen to receive a SHIFT Sustainability Award, recognizing the most effective, innovative conservation and sustainability initiatives in North America. The organization was a recent recipient of the Quivira Coalition’s prestigious Clarence Burch Award for its leadership in promoting outstanding land management stewardship.

Stephanie Adams, National Parks Conservation Association, gives the next program in the series entitled, “Preserving Ancient Paths: Restoring Pronghorn Antelope Migration in the Paradise Valley” on Tuesday, May 26. A recent Humanities Montana grant partially funds the project. The school, YGM, and the Friends of the Yellowstone Gateway Museum also fund the project. The programs are free and open to the public.