When Passion and Work Intertwine
By Kalie Tenebaum, Bugle Intern
Some people live for conservation. Steve Kilpatrick, for one. He not only works as a habitat biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (GFD), but has been a steadfast volunteer for the Jackson Hole Chapter since its inception. His wife, son and two daughters are also committee members.
“Steve has been the catalyst for habitat enhancement projects in the Jackson Hole area since he went to work there in 1987,” says Tom Toman, RMEF director of conservation programs.
Kilpatrick was instrumental in founding the Jackson Hole Chapter 22 years ago. Kilpatrick says he first heard about RMEF when he began working for the GFD. “We called the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in its third year and said, ‘We want a chapter in Jackson Hole!’” he says. And Kilpatrick got his wish.
Jackson Hole Chapter co-chair Rod Dykehouse knows Kilpatrick’s commitment to conservation. “Steve is very passionate about elk and wildlife habitat. His passion and his work are just so intertwined. His profession and his volunteer work fit together,” Dykehouse says.
Kilpatrick has worked tirelessly to bring many great projects to Wyoming that have improved habitat across the state’s elk country, says RMEF Wyoming regional director Jill Tonn. Kilpatrick’s efforts have also fostered partnerships between many government and conservation organizations to improve wildlife habitat in the Jackson Hole area, Tonn adds.
The Elk Foundation recently honored Kilpatrick’s efforts by presenting him with the 2009 Conservation Partner Award at Elk Camp. The award is given to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to habitat enhancement or land protection.
“I was tricked into going to Elk Camp,” Kilpatrick says, explaining that his supervisor assigned him to work the GFD booth. Kilpatrick says the award was a total surprise. “It was so humbling to be awarded the MVP when a whole team of volunteers did the work. I would like everyone to be champions,” he says.
When Kilpatrick isn’t conserving wild country he’s out enjoying it. “I spend about five weeks every year sleeping in the wilderness,” he says. “I hike, ride my mules or mountain bike. Anything to get me out in the backcountry.”