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focus on nothing. see everything.


i remember sitting outside at the glass table on my back porch in connecticut. i was maybe five or six at the time. my mother placed a red apple and some painting materials down in front of me and then sat down to her own artwork. i was fortunate to be given her natural artistic abilities, and while i did consider going to art school, I felt a different calling - one that led me to become a biologist (of wolves' behavior and ecology, to be exact).

i began by working alongside critically endangered Mexican gray wolves and red wolves, educating the public on their status, and advocating for science-based policies affecting all wolves. the fiery spirit that existed in this work is one that I will always admire, yet there was a complexity surrounding wolves and people's perceptions of this species that could only be appreciated by diving deeper into the story. FOR YEARS I WATCHED AS WOLVES WERE ANTHROPOMORPHIZED AND PEOPLE WERE DEHUMANIZED. IT DIDN'T MAKE SENSE. i wanted to have a positive impact, but to truly do that I needed to understand this conflict down to its roots.  I wasn't going to get there by simplifying the problems or rationalizing the emotions, but by empathizing with all the stakeholders, each with their own stories to tell, and challenging my own perceptions and beliefs.  being certified in the art of conflict transformation, I discovered a home in livestock-predator conflict in the northern rockies. I quickly felt how challenging and fulfilling this work was and knew that I was Going to dedicate my life to it. 

since moving to montana, my most notable work has been as a range rider in centennial valley and tom miner basin, but I'm constantly searching for ways to help agricultural communities beyond my own. ONE OF MY CURRENT PROJECTS IS facilitating the creation of a new range riding program in another corner of the greater yellowstone ecosystem in order to support ranchers who are currently experiencing wolf and grizzly depredations or anticipating such conflict as grizzly bears expand their range.

over the past year, art has slowly returned to the forefront of my life alongside carnivore conflict work. Just as my other passions have grown and shifted shape over time, I have decided to explore new mediums and am creating art inspired BY an ever-expanding perspective. I enjoy capturing moments that appear simple but also have a deeper complexity to them, often an unspoken connection.

no matter what I am doing, whether it’s as a range rider, artist, ranch hand, or dogsled musher, I love finding new ways to explore relationships with the natural world and self through the lens of compassion. 

as my journey continues, I am learning TO TRUST THE procesS knowing that much of the happiness I've found in my life today comes from the same things that brought me joy as a child.

Melissa + June | photo by the amazing  Anthony pavkovich

Melissa + June | photo by the amazing Anthony pavkovich


want a glimpse into my carnivore conflict work?