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Chad Klinkenborg, Working Toward Something Bigger Than Himself

Where do you live?

I currently live in Bozeman, Montana.

Where do you work or what is your profession?

I work for the Montana Land Reliance as the Southwest Manager. My job is to protect agricultural viability, water resources, and wildlife habitat in SW Montana through voluntary conservation easements with private landowners. Easements come in all shapes and sizes but by and large, they prevent subdivision and fragmentation of open landscapes and agricultural lands.

"I always knew I wanted to do something to conserve fish and wildlife ."

I was always a really avid outdoors person and spent a lot of my childhood hunting, fishing and enjoying nature on our family farms in SW Iowa. I always knew I wanted to do something to conserve fish and wildlife and came to admire several historical figures (like Teddy Roosevelt) who dedicated their life to conserving this country’s natural resources.

Early in my career, I worked for Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in Oregon where I was mentored by their longtime Lands Program Manager, Bill Richardson. Watching him collaborate with agricultural producers while protecting important wildlife habitat was inspiring to me. This ultimately steered me towards the career path I find myself on now.

What do you do for fun?

Exploring all the corners of this beautiful state is what I really like to do in my free time.

Like many Montanans, I like to be outdoors no matter what season we’re in. I like to hike, hunt, and fish. I like to learn new mountain ranges and climb up as high as I can. And check out new basins and float down new rivers. I have an exploratory spirit.

How are you connected to the Ruby Valley or surrounding area?

I met a friend while at UM who grew up in the Ruby and she used to bring me down here in college. I was immediately drawn to this beautiful valley and its welcoming people. I continue to spend a lot of time in the valley and exploring the Tobacco Roots, Snowcrests, and Greenhorns.

"Montana Land Reliance is an agricultural land trust so we’re focused on the permanent conservation of important agricultural lands in Montana to keep agriculture viable in Montana in the future."

Why are you a member of the RVSA?

The Ruby is a special place and remains mostly unfragmented. I’d like to be part of keeping it that way by collaborating with private landowners and conservation groups through the RVSA.

I think it's a really great way to think about protecting the landscape holistically by bringing in all the voices and coming to common solutions to solve important natural resource issues.

Part of my role with Montana Land Reliance is to be engaged with local collaborative groups focused on conservation, natural resources, and land use planning. Fortunately, Montana Land Reliance understands the importance of this work.

Montana Land Reliance is an agricultural land trust so we’re focused on the permanent conservation of important agricultural lands in Montana to keep agriculture viable in Montana in the future.

It’s important to engage with local communities to build trust and understand the knowledge of the local producers. Over time we all gain important lasting conservation protection through options like conservation land easements.

We share a lot of common ground.

What is the vision and goals for the RVSA?

Working collaboratively with all the stakeholders within the valley to achieve conservation of our natural resources, and wildlife, and keep agriculture viable. Protect access to public lands. Protect water quality and fish and wildlife habitat.

"There is diversity of stakeholders, backgrounds, and opinions in the room yet we're able to be respectful of each other and have a productive conversation about the future of this place. It’s a cool thing to be a part of."

What do you look forward to while working with this group?

I look forward to working with the group to protect the Ruby Valley. Through this group, I’m part of something bigger than myself or the organization that I work for. Together we can thoughtfully work together to conserve this place that we all value.

What do you think others could learn from the RVSA?

Listen. Be open to listening and hearing other people's perspectives. Then figure out where the common ground is and work from there.

What do you want to be sure people know about the RVSA?

People from different backgrounds, levels of understanding, and perspectives can come together and collaborate and be successful.

Don't just assume that someone's right or wrong, or they know, or they don't know, until you've sat down and had those face-to-face conversations to learn who they really are and where they're really coming from.

Was there anything that surprised you in your work with the RVSA?

The willingness for people to sit down, listen, understand each other, and understand each other's unique perspective to find common ground.

What is your personal theme and/or walk song?

Kansas City Star by Roger Miller

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