SHERIDAN — A new partnership between the Sheridan Community Land Trust and Sheridan County Conservation District will aid watershed health throughout the area, as Maggie DeFosse recently joined both organizations as a Watershed Health AmeriCorps through the Big Sky Watershed Corps, part of the Montana Conservation Corps.
DeFosse will spend the next 10 months helping SCLT develop a program that will work with local landowners on ways to help sustain local water for all of the people, ranches, plants and animals whose lives it nourishes. At SCCD, she will assist with water quality sampling, data management and mapping related to water quality improvement projects.
DeFosse's arrival also marks the first time a Big Sky Watershed Corps member has served with an organization outside of Montana, though, in a land where the streams and rivers run north, watershed health in Sheridan County equates to watershed in Big Sky Country, too.
DeFosse comes to Sheridan from Connecticut where she spent much of her free time hiking with her dogs and taking long walks along the beach.
“I grew up in coastal New England, always poking around to see what snails and critters I could find under this rock or that seashell,” she said.
While long walks along the beach stir passion in many, in DeFosse it stirred a passion for nature. That led her to pursue an education that offers an opportunity “to make what I hope will be a lasting, effective change, and to protect these species and their habitats that I have grown up loving.”
Though Sheridan is a long way from the ocean, DeFosse is no stranger to the Mountain West. She graduated with a degree in human dimensions of natural resources from Colorado State. While there, she spent many weekends exploring the mountains with her adventure pals — her cousin’s family’s dogs.
DeFosse is also familiar with how land trusts work with their communities. She served as the first student intern for her hometown land trust, the Avalonia Land Conservancy, which connects Nutmeg State residents to nature through a series of properties in and along the Connecticut coast.
She said one thing that quickly stood out about SCLT was that it was founded after a community assessment identified a need to conserve working lands and open space while increasing opportunities to enjoy the outdoors close to home.
Because of that, DeFosse said, she knew Sheridan shared one of her core values — a deep appreciation for the outdoors.
So far, she said she's enjoyed taking in the beauty of the Bighorns in winter, saying it was “a breath of fresh air” to see the mountains again. DeFosse looks forward to getting to know the community and exploring the region.