“I want my daughter to be proud that I tried to make a difference.”
Why Sadie is supporting MWA this holiday season
December is one of the biggest months of charitable giving of the year. Millions of people across the globe will donate to nonprofits in their communities – will you?
Join me in protecting Montana’s wild public lands, for now and future generations.
Wilderness has been on my mind a lot these past few years.
I was born in Montana and grew up in Shelby. Some of my favorite memories were made in Glacier National Park, the Sweet Grass Hills, and the countless coulees spread throughout central and eastern Montana’s landscapes.
But even though I grew up in Montana, I didn’t realize just how special our state is until I left.
When I moved east for graduate school, everything I took for granted quickly became apparent. I was shocked by how difficult it could be to access public lands, let alone wilderness. Roads, homes, and industry sprawled out in all directions.
My significant other and I knew we needed to get back to Montana. When we moved to Great Falls, joining MWA’s Island Range Chapter was my re-introduction to the incredible mountain ranges of central Montana. I joined MWA to learn about and join great wilderness hikes, but I stuck around because of the people. When we relocated to Missoula to be close to family, I immediately connected with my new local chapter, the Shining Mountains Chapter.
As I got more involved with MWA, I learned some tough truths. I thought Montana was teeming with vast tracts of wilderness, but in reality, protected wilderness makes up less than four percent of the state’s acreage. Protecting these places is tough work, too; it requires lifetimes of dedicated people working together to keep it wild for future generations.
It’s hard work, but it’s our responsibility – for now and for our children.
I had a baby in February. Her name is Lyra. I love taking her along with me for hikes and walks in the Lolo National Forest. We’re often exploring the Pattee Creek region, but I’ve also shown my little girl many other wild places – including the Great Burn, Rattlesnake Wilderness, and three national parks.
Not bad for someone under the age of one.
I love seeing the wonder on Lyra’s face as I walk with her through the forest. She’s mesmerized by the trees as we pass. Just the other day, we watched a beautiful sunset together. I studied her face, curious if she saw what I did.
I could tell by her expression that she did.
There is nothing more fulfilling than sharing these moments with her. Unlike me, I want Lyra to understand the value of wilderness at a young age. No one is too young to get outside and experience Montana’s public lands. No one is too old to speak up.
As a nurse practitioner, I share the health benefits of getting outside in our wild places with my patients. I encourage patients to spend time outdoors, and the data backs me up. But I know that Montanans don’t need data to tell them how valuable our public lands are.
We feel it in our hearts.
There is power in a collective voice. Montana Wilderness Association is a homegrown grassroots organization, and it has been advocating for Montana’s wild places and public lands since 1958. I hope you and yours decide to join MWA this holiday season, and continue as members year after year. With your help, we can protect Montana’s public lands and wild places for years to come.
Whether you were born in Montana, have chosen to make this your home, or love this great state from afar, I have a request: please join Lyra and me in supporting MWA and protecting our wild public lands.
As Lyra gets older, I want her to be confident and capable in the wild. I want her to know that our birthplace is special. I want her to know that wilderness matters and it is something to love, care for, and protect. I want her to be proud that I tried to make a difference and tried to protect what others protected before me.
I want her to care and to love the wild and all that comes with it.
- Sadie Rae Russell, Missoula