Todd Graham has over twenty years’ experience managing ranches for absentee owners and providing ranch management consulting services on over four million acres of ranchlands across the West. His work focuses on improving the health of the land and improving wildlife habitat while implementing land-based enterprises that sustain themselves financially. He has helped landowners and public land management agencies design grazing strategies that improve rangeland health, has enrolled landowner’s carbon credits to be sold on the open market, and is a widely invited speaker on land management and conservation issues. He has extensive experience in public lands grazing issues, managing livestock to improve wildlife habitat, and has designed mitigation valuation strategies for large energy companies. Born and raised in Wyoming, Graham obtained a degree in rangeland science from the University of Wyoming and has been focusing on ranch management since then. He co-authored the Bullsye! monitoring protocol and contributed to a university textbook Conservation for the Next Generation.
Ann Franklin has extensive experience directly applying science to natural resources management. She has helped facilitate, design, and monitor landscape-scale wildlife habitat improvement projects and has written county-wide fire management plans where fire was integrated into natural resources management programs across private and public land boundaries at landscape scales. Growing up on a northwest Colorado cattle and sheep ranch and having lived internationally, Franklin developed an inherent curiosity regarding the human side of natural resources management. That interest propelled her to become an agricultural and natural resources extension agent for Colorado State University and a natural resource management specialist for Moffatt County, CO. For years, she has successfully taught and blended science, the human element, and stewardship in her work with multiple stakeholders. Franklin attained a bachelor's degree in Rangeland Ecology and master's degree in Agriculture from Colorado State University.
Chad Espenscheid has over 30 years’ experience managing and ranches, and he currently oversees his family’s operation, representing the 5th generation on the Wyoming ranch. His science and finance backgrounds fueled his learning of GIS technology, hydrology, and residential and commercial real estate. Espenscheid is certified in Level 4 of the Rosgen stream classification protocol and is a professional engineer licensed in Wyoming. He has extensive experience in grazing planning, drought management, cattle acquisition and marketing, futures/options trading, wildlife-friendly fence design, irrigation system design, water rights, and hydrology. He obtained an MS degree in civil engineering from the University of Wyoming.
Jeremy has over 15 years of experience working on and managing progressive cattle and bison ranches in Colorado and Montana, including some of the most diverse and critical wildlife habitat in the Northern Rockies. A B.S. in Natural Resources Recreation and Tourism, an M.S. in Ranch Management, and the study and practice of Holistic Management provide the foundation of his approach to ranch management and management consulting. Throughout his career, he has used a landscape-scale approach that recognizes the dynamics among livestock, wildlife, fisheries, riparian systems, and healthy rangelands. Jeremy currently serves as Assistant Manager of the Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico, recently managed the Banded Peak Ranch in Southwestern Colorado, and cooperates on ranch management consulting projects through Ranch Advisory Partners based in Bozeman, MT.
Kay Kitto has over seven years’ experience in the banking industry, with a focus on home mortgage lending. She has handled multiple title and escrow real estate closings involving complex transactions for the benefit of clients across the Northern Rockies. Kitto is well versed in financial and agricultural data management, enabling informed and rapid decisions to be made for land-based enterprises. She has strong connections to the farming industry, having lived in Montana’s Gallatin Valley for much of her life.
Court Smith has over fifteen years of experience working as a professional Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specialist, ranch manager, and research ecologist. As a GIS specialist, he has developed and managed proprietary GIS databases for a number of firms in the west. This has included obtaining, creating, and analyzing geospatial data for natural resource management, conservation, and agricultural operations. Court also has five years’ experience as a ranch manager overseeing all ranch operations, including agricultural production, water management, project permitting and implementation, as well as natural resource restoration and enhancement. Court managed operations for ten ranches in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and California and gained a deep appreciation for the role of livestock grazing in improving and managing land health, wildlife habitat, and the challenges of creating financially-sustainable agricultural enterprises in western landscapes. As a professional ecologist, Court spent several years studying the impacts of human development on wildlife in areas within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem with an emphasis on geospatial modeling. Court’s experience provides him with a unique insight regarding ranch management in particular: from his on-the-ground experience as a ranch manager and scientist, he has an appreciation for the role of GIS and other monitoring data in helping plan for and improve rangeland health while maintaining and optimizing agricultural productivity and profitability. He has a BS in Science Education from Miami University (Ohio) and an MA in Conservation Biology from Prescott College in Arizona. Court has extensive experience with all ESRI ArcGIS software, Google Earth Pro, and other GIS programs as well as Excel, FileMaker Pro and other database applications.
Mark Petroni recently retired from the USDA, Forest Service after a 33-year career. Nineteen years of that career he served as District Ranger on the Madison Ranger District in Ennis, MT, where he was responsible for all aspects of resource management on the 750,000-acre district, including forestry, grazing, and wildlife management. He still serves as Planning Section Chief on Wildland Fire Incident Management Teams, where he helps determines appropriate management response for a variety of complex wild fires. He serves on the Board of Directors of Yellowstone Nature Connection, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting children with nature and on the Board of Directors of the Madison River Foundation. Petroni is managing partner of Blue Heron Enterprises, a consulting and horticultural business based at his home in West Yellowstone, Montana. Petroni holds a B.S. in Forestry from the University of Montana.
Katie has over 10 years experience in landscape-scale conservation efforts and 6 years experience working closely with ranchers to identify strategies that simultaneously enhance ecological health, financial success, and human well-being. Since graduating from Columbia University with a Master's in Conservation Biology, Katie has worked with individuals and communities throughout the West as a biologist and facilitator to identify solutions to land management and conservation challenges. Fundamental to her approach is a firm belief that people and communities are an integral component of every healthy landscape. Successfully integrating human social and economic values into functional ecosystems is critical to achieving lasting conservation.
Born and raised in western Washington, Bryce Andrews has ten years worth of experience on conservation-minded cattle ranches in Montana, including natural and certified organic operations. As a ranch manager for private landowners and conservation groups such as the Clark Fork Coalition, he has implemented sustainable and profitable land stewardship through rotational grazing, low-stress handling, and ecological restoration projects. He co-founded and later sold the Oxbow Cattle Company, a grass-fed cattle operation near Missoula, Montana.
Bryce divides his time between ranching and writing. 2014 saw the publication of his first book, Badluck Way, by an imprint of Simon and Schuster. The book, a firsthand account of ranching among wolves on Yellowstone’s wild edge, has been recognized with Barnes and Noble’s Discover Great New Writers Award, as well as the Reading the West Award for nonfiction. It is currently nominated for the High Plains Book Award and Washington State Book Award as well.
Elizabeth Domenech grew up in the fourth generation of a cattle ranching family in Texas, where she was involved in her family’s wildlife conservation, habitat mitigation, and generational planning efforts. She obtained a Master of Environmental Management degree from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, where coursework in private land conservation and finance tools, public land conservation and policy, and conservation science grounded her approach to land and wildlife conservation in the Northern Rockies. At Yale F&ES, Elizabeth worked for the Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative where she designed a wildlife-friendly fence monitoring project for a preserve and working cattle operation in Wyoming. She also organized a symposium on Ranching with Carnivores with ranchers, conservationists, and representatives from state wildlife agencies from the U.S. & Canadian Rockies. Elizabeth’s upbringing and master’s coursework shaped her belief that maintaining ecologically and financially healthy working lands is a critical component of land and wildlife conservation in the west. She is based in Bozeman, Montana.
Ben C. Pierce
Ben Pierce graduated from Dartmouth College, received a Masters from the University of Washington, and completed the Executive Program at Stanford Business School. He worked for the First National Bank of Boston and Fiduciary Trust Company of New York before joining The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for a 25-year career in the Northern Rockies. Pierce was State Director for TNC in Wyoming for 11 years, a Chapter he founded and built into TNC's most successful program in fundraising and landscape-scale conservation. Under Pierce's leadership, the Wyoming Chapter completed a $100-million capital camgaign and protected over 100,000 acres of land, and he led over 100 ranch real estate transactions. Pierce was then Director of TNC's Conservation Buyer Program nationally for 5 years based out of Denver where he managed hunderds of conservation real estate transactions across the country. He then Co-Directed the Montana Chapter. Pierece distinguished himself as a creative entrepreneur in TNC who conserved hundreds of thousands of acres in real estate transactions that generated both profit and conservation results. Pierce has helped purchase, manage, and enhance numerous ranches, including extensive family investments in Montana ranchlands.